Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: The Great Tulip Trade


The book The Great Tulip Trade by Beth Wagner Brust, is part of a series called Step Into Reading. It is a level 3 book for grades 1-3. The story begins in Holland on Anna’s eighth birthday and she visits her dad out in the field tending to their tulips. She begs her dad for tulips for her birthday and even though tulips are very valuable in Holland during this time period, he lets her pick eight. Anna plants the tulips in the window of her house but throughout the day merchants stop by her house and want to trade their goods for her tulips. Anna has to make decisions about whether she will trade her precious tulips. By the end of the day, Anna is left with her favorite tulip, the Semper Augustus which she did not trade, even for a gold necklace, gold coins, a diamond bracelet, and a big house.  However, Anna has traded the other seven for pots and pans, a table, a painting, a puppy, a bed, a rug, a cabinet, a cow, two lambs and six chairs. In this story Anna learns the importance of bartering her tulips for items that her family can use and need, but also to keep what is so special to her.

Curriculum Connections:

The Great Tulip Trade can be used as an introduction to a history unit covering regions where bartering is used to collect the items you need. It can also be used in a unit covering money or trading and the importance of saving for what you want and need.  This can be used to cover VA SOL 1.8 and 2.8.

Additional Resources:

  • Brainpopjr has a great page devoted to helping children learn about needs and wants. It has activities you can do in the classroom and at home to help children learn about the value of money and how to be a smart consumer.
  • Hands on banking is a great website for children and adults of all ages to learn about money, budgeting, and how to save for what you want. For kids, with the help is Zing the alien they are able to learn about basic concepts of saving.
  • LearnNC has a good lesson plan activity to help children see the importance of bartering to get what you need/want.

Title: The Great Tulip Trade
  Beth Wagner Brust
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date
: 2005
Pages: 48
Grade Range: K-2nd

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