Follow Your Money for Financial Literacy Month

Follow Your Money[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ovember is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This time of year is promoted as an opportunity for Canadians of all ages to enhance their financial knowledge and skills.  There have been many tips, tricks and activities dedicated to this important topic from a variety of groups and media.  As we conclude financial literacy month, my advice for parents is to teach children about money from a young age.

My friends in financial literacy – Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka – agree that engaging kids in understanding money makes cents. In their book Follow Your MoneySylvester and Hlinka encourage students to do that very thing and explore: “Who gets it, Who Spends it, Where does it go?”  They do this in a fun manner, breaking down financial concepts with creative illustrations and examples that young people can relate to.

Topics range from the true cost of going to the movies, designer versus no name brand jeans, and ordering pizza rather than making it at home.  The concepts of credit cards, saving, and investing for the future are explained in language kids and teens will actually understand.

Parents often comment that they would like their children to be more financially savvy, yet are not confident in how to best introduce the topic.  In fact, it is so critical to teach children about money from a young age that beginning anywhere is a good start.  By getting them thinking about their role in the economy, it helps to ensure they will make good choices and financial decisions as they approach adulthood.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Kevin Sylvester himself to get the lowdown on the importance of financial literacy. Here’s what he had to say:

Photos: (Left) Kevin Sylvester (Right) Michael Hlinka



How did you get started as a children’s writer and illustrator?

I have always loved stories. I love hearing them and telling them. I had been submitting proposals for years, and decided to start keeping track of all the weird sports stories that I knew from my years as a sportscaster. My first book Sports Hall of Weird came out of that.

Why do you feel teaching children about financial literacy is important?

Because they spend money! Sometimes it’s their own money and sometimes it’s their parents’ money. When I was a kid I often had to save up actual money before I could buy a comic book or baseball cards. Kids today don’t really see money the same way. It’s an abstract concept. Michael and I wanted to write a book that helped kids understand where their money goes when they buy stuff.

What age group is the book targeted to?

We see it as a book for anyone who spends money and is curious about the way the economy works. The main target audience is probably middle grades and higher but we made sure the formulae wasn’t overly complicated. There are also bright pictures to help tell the story.

Can you share any examples of a positive impact you had on a child or family with financial literacy?

When I do school visits I always ask the kids how much money they think I make on each book sale. The answer is about a buck. The point is that the kids are always shocked to hear that everyone needs to work hard to make it in our world.

5) What is next for Kevin Sylvester?

I’m working on a baseball and numbers book for Annick Press and continuing the Neil Flambé mystery series with Simon and Schuster.  And I’m always looking for new ideas.

Although Follow Your Money is officially recommended to students between the ages of 9 and 12, to me, this resource is ageless.  Adults might even pick up a few financial tidbits when they read along with their kids.   I only wish this book had been around when I was in school.

**CONTEST**                 **CONTEST**             **CONTEST**

Want your very own copy?  Annick Press has generously donated two copies of Follow Your Money to a couple of lucky readers.  To qualify, simply share an example of a student setting a savings goal on Facebook.  Stay tuned for the top responses!


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Joanne Sallay

Joanne Sallay is a Director at Teachers on Call – a personalized home tutoring service with more than 25 years of experience.  Teachers on Call’s Ontario Certified Teachers specialize in providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades including French Immersion tutoring.

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