Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: One Hen



One Hen, written by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, provides a unique and interesting story serving as an example of how loans are used and how one can start his/her own business. The story is kid friendly and clearly illustrates the steps that are necessary to start a business, defining important economic terms such as “loans,” “trade,” “bargain,” “savings,” and “profit.” The story as well as the graphics and illustrations provide a great example for children to easily relate to in understanding economic concepts. The progression of the story and the way it is written help to explain how a small business can grow and expand. The bold sentences offered on each page with illustrations provide a great way to easily summarize ideas of each passage. The detailed information offered as well also gives students a further in-depth look at starting a new business.


This book tells the story of a young boy named Kojo who gets a loan from his mother to buy a Hen. He uses the Hen to provide eggs as food for him and his mother as well as to sell at a market and start a business. The eggs that Kojo sells from the hen he bought give him enough money to buy more hens and sell more eggs. From the money Kojo saves, he is able to pay back the loan to his mother, pay the fees to attend school, and eventually go to college. With the help from a bank, providing him with a loan to buy his own land and start his own farm, Kojo is able to head a thriving business, which in turn employs others and has tremendous effects on the country with other growing businesses,

“And it all started with one small loan to buy own brown hen” (pg. 27).

The end of the story provides a real life example of a success story similar to Kojo’s story, a man named:

“Kwabena Darko, a real boy from Ghana’s Ashanti region who really did lose his father and have to help his mother support his family” (pg. 28)

The end of the book offers examples of real people who have been helped by small loans from micro-credit organizations and also provides lists of such organizations and different ways which we can help. The glossary on the last pages define different African terms as well as economic terms, for children to further understand topics in the story and other economic concepts.

Curriculum Connections:

This book can be used in a second or third grade classroom to explain, from one specific example of a young boy from Ghana, how loans work and how to start one’s own business. The story helps students learn about bartering and the use of money in exchange for goods and services (SOL economics 2.8). From this specific story, students will recognize how people specialize in what they do best and how they trade to account for everything else (SOL economics 3.8).

Additional Resources:

1. This website provides a lemonade stand program to help kids learn about business. It has developed a business plan to use a lemonade sale, including the steps needed to start a lemonade stand program.

2. This website provides a lists of jobs for kids, such as babysitting and lemonade stands, and other ways for kids to make money. This site encourages saving and budgeting skills for kids as well.

3. This site is a wonderful resource because it provides different presentations, in powerpoint format, about economics for kids. Some topics that are included are goods and services, bartering, business plans, marketing, and basic definitions of economic terms and concepts.

General Information

Book: One Hen

Author: Katie Smith Milway

Illustrator: Eugenie Fernandes

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Publication Date: February 1, 2008

Pages: 32

Grade Range: 2nd-3rd

ISBN: 978-1554530281

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