Teaching Economics with Children’s Literature: Monkey For Sale


How far does a five-franc coin go?  The book Monkey For Sale, beautifully written and illustrated by Sanna Stanley, shadows a journey in the marketplace with a young girl named Luzolo who learns to make the best of a day at the marketplace with five-francs, a friend, and a little determination.

“Don’t buy the first thing you see,” said her father.  “Look around, choose what you really want, and then bargain for a fair price.””And remember, Luzolo,” added her mother, “no one gets something for nothing on market day.”

Luzolo and her friend Kiese pool their resources and bartering skills to find what they really want to buy, a mischievous monkey that Mama Lusufu is selling.  Luzolo and Kiese rescue this monkey and set him free into the woods through a long string of bargaining in the marketplace.

Kiese’s mother was completing a sale.  She smiled when Kiese said that Mama Lusufu wanted a water pot.  “What a lucky day,” said Kiese’s mother.  “If Mama Lusufu buys a water pot from me, I can buy an embroidery from Luzolo’s mother.  Your mother does the best embroidery in the village,” she said to Luzolo.

Curriculum Connections
Monkey for Sale
takes students on a fantastic economics ride where they learn about money, bargaining, trade, the free-market, and the economy of another culture.  The book may be read aloud to young students but is also enjoyable enough for older elementary students to enjoy, especially if they can learn a little more about the setting.  In Virginia, this story teaches social studies SOLs K.7, 1.8, 2.8, and 3.8, which state that students will

  • recognize and explain that people make choices because they cannot have everything they want,
  • distinguish between the use of barter and money in the exchange for goods and services,
  • recognize that people specialize in and sell products that they make the best and trade in order to obtain other things.

Additional Resources

  • This website “Show me Economics” provides activities involving economic reasoning for students K-5.
  • The geography lesson combined with the economics elements of this story allow students to learn about a different culture.  Here is a lesson plan that revolves around central Africa and the Congo River, which flows through The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the assumed setting of this story.
  • Here is a lesson plan that teaches about community resources, consumers, producers, goods, and services.

Book: Monkey For Sale
Sanna Stanley
Publisher: Dragonfly Books
Publication Date: 
30 pages

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