Teaching Economics Through Children’s Literature: Pennies for Elephants

pennies for elephants


Pennies for Elephants written and illustrated by Lita Judge is a wonderful tale based on a true story of how the children of Boston came together to save three very special circus elephants.  A brother and sister duo unite to raise $6000 to save the elephants, which in 1914 is no small task.  They ask all the children in Boston to donate their pennies, but they only have two months to save them.  Soon children from all along the east coast are donating their pennies to keep these three circus elephants at the Boston zoo.

This heartwarming story teaches children the importance and satisfaction of saving money.  The illustration and newspaper clippings make the book unique while bring the audience into the time period of the book.  This book introduces children to the important ideas of economics and emphases saving, using a topic that all children love, the circus.

Curriculum Connections

This heartwarming story is more that just a book about keeping beloved elephants in Boston.  It introduces kids to saving, opportunity cost, and interdependence.  The children of Boston are left with tough choices about how to use the little money they have (1.8, 1.9, 3.9).  Saving their pennies is the only way that the elephants can stay (2.8).

Additional Resources

  • Kids’ Turn Central this site provides information for kids about the importance of saving and investing money.  It also tells of the possible benefits and losses that can occur and explains complicated economics concepts in terms that older children can understand.
  • Economy for Kids provides information about the current state of the economy for both children and teachers.  Provides a dictionary for economic terms for kids. lesson plans , and links to what the government is doing in this economic rough spot.
  • Econopolis provides games and activities for students just starting to learn about economics.  It covers areas such as supply and demand,  producers and consumers, and goods and services.

 General Information

  • Book: Pennies for Elephants
  • Written by/ Illustrated by: Lita Judge
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • Publication Date:2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
  • ISBN:142311390X
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