Plan ahead. Isn’t that what we’ve always been told? In Fletcher, students have begun to do just that, and they are working to secure their financial futures in the process.
The Reading is an Investment Program is an initiative of the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office. It encourages students to learn about financial literacy through children’s books. This year’s theme, “Creative Ideas Pay Off,” encourages librarians to share the stories of entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas and projects that have led them to financial success. Creativity and planning skills are emphasized as students share stories that provide inspiration and a framework for their future financial plans.
The program provides a book list that focuses on money management, as well as a reading log for students and suggested activities that teach students about personal finance. In Fletcher, all students shared financially-themed books as part of library classes with Librarian Emily DiGiulio.
“Our students gain an understanding of financial concepts as they make connections to the stories and characters in the books,” DiGiulio said. “The books include young characters making a difference in their families and communities and help students understand financial issues. Through reading, book discussions, and reviewing ideas with partners in the activities, students begin learning about the role money plays in our lives while building their skills for financial well-being.”
Three books are included in the program this year. The Bridge of the Golden Wood, By Carl Beckstrand, tells the stories of successful businesspeople and how they have turned creative ideas into practical solutions. It also teaches the relationship between goods and services and the relationship between expenses and sales. A second story, Barbara deRebertis’s, Count on Pablo, tells the tale of a young boy and his grandmother who develop a successful plan to market their wares. The final book, Soda Bottle School, by Laura Kutner and Suzanne Slade, discusses how a young girl evaluates the wants and needs of her customers.
“Supporting students in thinking about money management, financial success, and ingenuity at an early age is a critical step in setting the stage for creating adults who behave in a financially responsible manner,” Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Teacher Leader Denette Locke said. “It’s great to see this theme extend beyond the classrooms and into library classes.”
DiGiulio registered each student at Fletcher for the program, presented the lessons, facilitated discussion and awarded each student a certificate signed by State Treasurer Beth Pearce.
According to DiGiulio, the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office provides the incentive for a 529 College Savings Account and students are selected by having their name drawn to win. “Having access to this account gives our students the opportunity to have funds for their future educational goals,” she said. “This program provides our students with an equal opportunity to have this college fund that will grow over the years as it adds to their repertoire of positive financial choices.”
Three Fletcher students also received recognition for their participation in the program’s “Be Money Wise” poster contest.
“It’s great to see students connecting a variety of disciplines and making meaning of their interconnectedness,” Literacy Teacher Leader Julie Steves said. “Reading and math go hand-in-hand so to use great books to teach financial concepts makes total sense.”