Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Little Nino’s Pizzeria


Little Nino’s Pizzeria, written by Karen Barbour is a story about a little boy named Tony, and his father, Nino, who own and operate a pizzeria.  Little Nino’s Pizzeria is a small, but popular restaurant, run by Tony’s father, who is the chef.  It is a family run restaurant, where Tony is able to assist with many of the tasks, such as stirring pizza sauce and collecting dirty dishes.  Tony and his father also give extra pizzas to homeless people so that they aren’t hungry.

“People come from all over town to eat at Little Nino’s.  They wait in long lines because our restaurant is so small. One night a man came to see my dad after the last pizza.  What did he want?  That night my dad told my mom we would be making lots more money now.  The next day, my dad locked up Little Nino’s.  Soon he opened a big, fancy, expensive restaurant.  He called it Big Nino.”

At the new big restaurant, Tony gets in the way and is not allowed to help his father run the restaurant.  After trying to help in many ways, Tony gives up and goes home.  One night, his father came home tired from work.  He said…

” ‘I miss cutting tomatoes, and chopping onions, and kneading dough’…’I’m tired of so much paperwork and money talk’ he shouted.  ‘I want…I WANT TO MAKE PIZZA!’ “

The next day Nino told the man with the money that he needed to find a new person to run Big Nino, and Nino and Tony reopen Little Nino’s.  At the end of the story, Nino renames the restaurant “Little Tony’s Pizzeria” in honor of his best helper, his son Tony.

Curriculum Connections:

Tony’s father has to make some difficult decisions about his restaurant.  The decision to reopen his small restaurant goes along with VA Economics SOL 1.8, which teaches children that they can’t have everything that they want.  This story also can be used to help teach VA Economics SOL 1.7, which describes goods, services, sellers, and buyers.

Additional Resources:

The Powell Center for Economic Literacy provides a short lesson plan that gets parents involved while reviewing the terms goods, producer, and consumer.

Kid’s Econ Posters provides a set of good questions to ask children after reading the book to expand the lesson.

Extend this story into snack time for a quick and easy treat for your students, an English Muffin Pizza!

General Information:
Book:  Little Nino’s Pizzeria
Author:  Karen Barbour
Publisher:  Voyager Books
Publication Date:  March 15, 1990
Pages:  32 pages
Grade Range: 1-2 grade
ISBN-13: 978-0152463212

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