Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Saturday Sancocho


Saturday Sancocho, written and illustrated by Leyla Torres, introduces students to the art of bartering. The author/illustrator has included eye-catching, realistic illustrations that will help children envision a bustling South American marketplace.

Every Saturday Maria Lili looks forward to making a sancocho dinner with her grandparents. However, on this day Mama Ana has nothing in her kitchen but eggs, and there is no money for any of the ingredients.  Maria Lili is disappointed, but Mama Ana has a plan, “we will use eggs to make sancocho.”  “Egg sancocho! Everyone knows sancocho is not prepared with eggs,” says Maria Lili. “Come, my dear, we are going to the market.”  As they make their way through the market Mama Ana trades her eggs for the ingredients she needs. After a few stops she begins to trade some of her newly acquired goods for more ingredients. “The next stop was the stall of Dona Carmen. She was not interested in the eggs, but Mama Ana managed to trade nine plantains for four pounds of thick cassava.”  For their last important ingredient, the chicken, Mama Ana has another idea. Knowing they have plenty of vegetables and must make a big trade for the chicken she says, “Let’s divide the vegetables equally between the two baskets.” After some haggling she successful trades one of the baskets for a chicken and they head home to make their Saturday Sancocho.

Curriculum Connections
This book would work well in an Economics unit as an introduction to trade and barter. It would work best in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom. The concepts included in the book integrate well with lessons where students are asked to distinguish between the use of barter and the use of money in the exchange for goods and services. (SOL 2.8)

Additional Resources

Author: Leyla Torres
Leyla Torres
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date:
Grade Range:

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