Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Monkey for Sale


Monkey for Sale by Sanna Stanley is a great book for kids about a girl in an African village and her adventures on market day. Luzolo begins with five francs to spend and walks around the market deciding where to spend her money, she thinks about her options and barters for a fair price. After making her purchase, Luzolo meets up with her friend Kiese and they find a monkey for sale at a stand. The girls want buy the monkey and rescue him, but the they don’t have any money left. They then work to trade what they have through a complex series of barters and deals involving many people in the market before they have what they need to buy the monkey.

The story is engaging and kids will love the detailed and bright pictures. The words are big enough too so learning readers can try to read it. Luzolo’s long chain of bartering teaches kids about the economic cycle, how everyone needs something and has something to sell. The book can also be used as a tool to start discussions about Africa and the cultures of Africa or the jungle even. Specifically the story is based on the athur’s childhood in the Republic of Congo. A teacher could use that to start a lesson on the geography of Africa and the Congo area.

Curriculum Connections
Monkey for Sale satisfies the Virginia SOL requirements for first grade 1.8 – the student will explain that people make choices because they cannot have everything they want, and second grade 2.8 – the student will distinguish the use of barter and money in exchange for goods and services. The books introduces cultural themes with it’s African setting and can be used to integrate cultural studies into the lesson. Also, a teacher could plan word problems around Luzolo’s initial allowance of five francs and let kids figure out how to split the money to buy want they want with the right amount of money.

Additional Resources

  • Here’s an interesting lesson plan directly planned around the book involving Luzolo’s trading expericence.
  • ProTeacher! offers a huge list of lesson plans and class activities centered around Africa and the African culture.

Book: Monkey for Sale
Sanna Stanley
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: 1-3

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