Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Fleas

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Fleas, written by Jeanne Steig & illustrated by Britt Spencer, is a comical look at bartering.

With it’s quirky characters and colorful pictures, Fleas is all about bartering. The main character Quantz starts off by rubbing a dog in his garden and catching his fleas. He trades the fleas for a talkative old uncle and the uncle for some cheese. The bartering continues on until Quantz at the end of bartering has a bone. Fleas has touches of rhyming, “A wig! What a glorious thingamajig!” It also incorporates snippets of alliteration “The tiny creatures dance graceful gavottes, fancy fandangos, and riotous rhumbas.”At the end of the story, Quantz sees the dog, and they step inside a tent where all of the characters, along with all of their trades, have made a circus.

Curriculum Connections

Fleas is a great resource when you are studying bartering. It talks about how you can trade an item with someone else, if that person wants the item you are wanting to trade. It is connected to VA SOL Social Studies Economics 2.8 The student will distinguish between the use of barter and the use of money in the exchange for goods and services.

Additional Resources

General Information

Book: Fleas
Author:Jeanne Steig
Illustrator: Britt Spencer
Publisher:Philomel Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: 2-6
ISBN: 9780399247569