We all want to impart as much financial intelligence to our children as possible, but sharing your own life lessons and experiences can only take the educational ball so far down the court of practical knowledge. The human learning process is complex and multifaceted. Sometimes it takes a new perspective or medium to nudge an adult child to the breakthrough “Aha!” moment—and the engaging, interactive nature of reading can make for a particularly effective approach.
With that in mind, this summer, consider pointing your son or daughter towards these five great reads…each of which also just happen to be imbued with timeless wisdom and thought-provoking concepts related to money matters.
The Richest Man in Babylon, by George Clason
Based on the famous “Babylonian parables,” The Richest Man in Babylon has become a modern-day classic. In simple language, the book provides inspiration and advice on the topics of thrift, financial planning and personal wealth, through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon.
The Babylonians were the first to discover the universal laws of wealth, and their stories have helped millions of readers to keep more of what they earn, choose wise investments, protect a lasting fortune and increase their earning power.
King Lear, by William Shakespeare
In Shakespeare’s classic play, an aging King Lear divvies up his kingdom and riches between his three daughters based on their professed love for him. While two of the king’s daughters express extreme responses to his “love test,” the third explains that, while she loves her father very much, her future husband will have to come first. King Lear famously falls for the flattery of the first two daughters and, seeing her honesty as rejection, banishes the third, Cordelia, from the kingdom. That choice turns tragic when the first two daughters’ intentions to strip their father of the wealth and power he’s amassed become apparent.
The story of King Lear teaches many lessons that can be applied to managing a legacy—building and maintaining a relationship with your family that focuses on the joy, satisfaction, and truth that exists outside of finances and inheritance can ultimately be worth more than lording over the greatest kingdom the world has ever seen.
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
First published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich remains a popular classic today. Hill spent two decades interviewing more than 500 of the most successful Americans to learn the secrets behind their success, then wrote this book to share those common philosophies with others. Some of the people interviewed for the book include Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, William Wrigley, Jr., George Eastman, Thomas Edison, Frank Winfield Woolworth, Harvey Firestone, and three U.S. presidents.
As the title implies, Hill found that the ability to build wealth started with a thought process. This fundamental finance book still inspires its readers to get their heads in the right place to start or continue building and maintaining a financial legacy.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Wealth and legacy are intrinsically related to our work and our impact on the world around us. Every parent hopes that his or her child will not just enjoy his or her life and inheritance, but that he or she will also find the personal satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference in the world. Perhaps no book does a better job than To Kill a Mockingbird of illustrating the challenge and the value of doing work that matters.
In the landmark novel published in 1960, Atticus Finch is a white lawyer in a small Alabama town who is defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. Told from the viewpoint of Scout, Finch’s young daughter, the story reveals how one man’s willingness to use his knowledge, skills and abilities for a just cause can have a lasting impact on friends, enemies, neighbors, his own children, and an entire community.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki based Rich Dad, Poor Dad on the intertwining money lessons he learned from observing his own father and the father of his best friend. In it, he challenges traditional notions about building wealth, arguing that the “old” advice of getting a good job and investing for the long-term is flawed and obsolete.
Instead, Kiyosaki believes people must become financially independent, through modern investing strategies, purchasing real estate and starting and owning businesses. He also believes that increasing your financial intelligence will improve your financial results. First published in 1997, Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been widely acclaimed and has sold more than 26 million copies.
Each of these books contains pieces of wisdom that are relevant in and outside of the financial world. Consider the financial lessons that would most benefit your own adult children and use this “Summer Reading List” as a tool to help you convey that wisdom.