Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Estela’s Swap


Introduction and Summary
Estela’s Swap written by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez,is about a young girl from Santa Ana named Estela. She is selling her music box at the Swap Meet for ten dollars so that she could pay for folk-dancing lessons that Estela has beein saving for all year. Estela learns how to bargain as she walks the meet with her father:

“As the seller, you name a price that’s a little more than what you are willing to take. That way you have room to bargain.

Estela encounters a old woman across the street who enjoys listening to the music box while sewing a skirt. As Estela begins bargaining with customers, a strong wind blows through the Swap Meet. Estela runs to help the old woman across the street who is selling paper flowers as they all blow away. As Estela grabs the tent, her music box falls to the ground. Estela  ignores her music box as she attempts to collect the flowers for the old woman. The woman gives Estela back her music box which is relatively unharmed from the wind. Estela decides to give the woman her box so that she can listen to music while she makes more flowers for the next Swap Meet. At the end of the Swap Meet, the old woman gives Estela the skirt she had been working on. Estela is very excited about her first swap and looks forward to next time to learn how to sell.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce concepts of economics to young elementary students.  Key vocabulary could include goods, buyer, seller, money, savings, and barter . The book explores concepts of bargaining as well as selling to gain money in order to buy something else (SOL K.7b, 1.7, 2.8). Estela decides to sell her music box because she wants lessons, so she gives up something in exchange for something else (SOL 1.8). Students will enjoy learning about saving money for a specific item (SOL 1.9). A civics lesson is also incorporated into the story as Estela helps the old woman with her flowers even though she puts her own sale of the music box at risk (SOL 1.10a, K.8e)

Additional Resources

Book: Estela’s Swap
Alexis O’Neill
Illustrator: Enrique O. Sanchez
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Publication Date: 2002
Pages:  29
Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd grade
ISBN: 1584300442

This entry was posted in book review, economics, social studies. Bookmark the permalink.