Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Cups

Teaching children about money by dividing up whatever they earn or are given is a popular technique. To help introduce this concept to children, Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain's Three Cups may prove helpful.

The book begins: "On my fifth birthday, my parents gave me a wonderful present. They promised it would take me on many adventures." Still, the young boy pictured looks pretty disappointed when he opens his gift: Three coffee cups. More happily, there's a little money, too. His parents explain it's time their son earned an allowance. Each time he's paid, he'll divide up the money into the three cups: "One cup is for savings, one cup is for spending, and one cup is for giving," they explain.

When the boy's cups seem full, his mother takes him to the bank to help him open a savings account. Here, he learns that keeping some money in the bank will earn him interest. Next, his mother helps him count the money in his Spending Cup. He really wants a new baseball glove. He doesn't have quite enough money for that yet, but his mother assures him he soon will.

Finally, they look at the boy's Giving Cup. There is enough there to pick up some groceries and give them to the boy's teacher, who is collecting food for the needy. Later, the boy helps deliver the groceries.

The boy grows up, but he still uses the principles of three cups.
"By the time I was in high school, I had bought many things with money from my Spending Cup. With the money from my Giving Cup, I gave to my church and other organizations, and I helped many people. And when I graduated from high school, I used money from my savings account at the bank to help pay for the college I went to."
Then he reveals he has his own five year old boy. "Are you ready for an adventure?" he asks his child, as the boy opens a box containing three cups.

The last two pages of the book offer hints to parents about using the three cup method.

What I Like: The illustrations by April Willy are lovely - full of expression and interesting light plays. I also appreciate the basic concept of this book; if we want our children to be good stewards of the money that comes into their lives, we must teach them to earn their money and to handle it wisely.

What I Dislike: The price of the book seems high for the slim content it offers. True, the book's pages are thick and glossy, and the cover is hardback, but why not produce a more affordable book about spending money wisely? And while the idea behind this book seems mostly to get kids interested in the three cup method, I found the story not that interesting - as did my children, aged 6 and 3. The illustrations alone kept them sitting during the reading. In addition, while I suppose the publishers are hoping to reach a mainstream audience, I was disappointed there were no Bible references about money - and only one vague mention about tithing.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 4 to 8.Link
Publishing Info: Thomas Nelson; 2011; ISBN: 978-1400317493; hardback, 32 pgs., $9.99.

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Special Info: Read our other reviews for books about money.


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