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Money Working for You and Four Short Stories to Teach Children Financial Concepts Review by Patty Rebne

Robert Bacarella
Monetta Educational Products
1776-A South Naperville Road, Suite 100
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
Telephone: 1800 MONETTA

Monetta is a mutual fund company that produces a small line of educational products to teach students about money, investments, and economic concepts. The company produces two lines: first, a set of four short stories geared at teaching upper-elementary or junior high students some basic economic concepts. The second set teaches interested junior high most likely senior high students about how to make money work for you (instead of the other way around).

The four short stories come in a kit ($19.95). Each story is vividly illustrated, and comes with a coloring book, stickers, word search and crossword activities. These are nicely designed, inviting, and of high production quality?no copy machines involved here. The stories focus on four economic and business concepts: bartering and the value of money, business and job creation (and the effects of regulation), where money comes from, and inflation.

On first glance at the presentation alone, the materials seem suited to a younger elementary student. However, the content is suited to an upper elementary or junior high student, who might be put off by the "youthful" appearance of the material. One sixth grade girl I showed it to pooh-poohed it on appearance alone, but a fifth grade boy picked them up voluntarily and read them instead of his Marvel comic book and got a lot, although not all there was, out of them. He even did the crossword, and that is not a normal response from this boy. The information in these books is accessible to these kids, and so if I were the mother, I would say, "Get over the pictures and coloring book. Read it." The crosswords and word searches were spot on for this age group. Little brothers and sisters can color the books while the story is read aloud.

The material is presented clearly, invoking some thinking skills (classical educators: think "logic stage" here), and using humor and whimsy to enliven a subject which could be dry as dust.

You yourself will be happy to have the help these books offer if you have ever had to answer any of these questions "Why don't we all just print our own money?" or "Why don't the farmers just buy their food like we do?" or "Why do you think it was a bad deal for me to trade 400 marbles to Joey to get that cool chess set that's only missing 2 pieces?"

The second set is for the high school student (or eager junior high student) or interested adult who wants to understand savings and investments'stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate. This book contains no instruction about how to spend money, how to write a check or apply for credit cards. The author is an investment manager, and wrote this book to help people understand how to get money working for the investor, instead of the spender working for money. Many "fresh adults" head into the world without any concept of saving and investment and the principles behind them, and instead make ignorant and disastrous financial decisions in attempts to get rich quick or own it all as young as possible: this book focuses on sound financial thinking and planning. The information in this book is straightforward, not made more complicated than it need be, but not dumbed-down, either. It is accessible, but some of it will have to be studied, not because it is presented badly, but because some things have to be studied to be understood.

It strikes me that two kinds of high school students would benefit a great deal by studying this book. Students getting ready to go to college would benefit a great deal by studying this book over the summer. It would give them a boost in understanding financial concepts before they hit their first economics or business class, and that would give them time to take in more advanced concepts. This would also hold true for "career changers" going back to get an MBA or similar degree.

The set comes with two books ($24.95 for both). The first is the "learner" book, complete with readings, worksheets and other materials in 24 chapters; the second book is the teacher's book. It has the answers, and some additional material to use to guide discussions. The books are high quality production paperbacks. There is room in the margin for notes. At the end of the book is a postscript, a good index and a bibliography of websites for further exploration. is a website worth exploring in its own right. When you visit, click around and see what is there?and if you want further information on these books, click "Fun Web Sites" on the main page, then go to the tabs on the left side of the screen to navigate further. If you click into the "short Stories", you can order a free copy of one of the books.

-- Product Review by: Patty Rebne, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine