In the article, "Good Night Moon" and the Interview, I talked about the importance of reading to and with our kids. While driving out to my son's school with him and his mother we were treated to an impromptu verbal book report. The book was "Lawn Boy" and he launched into an impassioned description of the book. My first thought was that we would not have had this discussion if we had let him bring his PSP with him in the car. My second thought was, "That is an awesome book! I am going to have to read it as well."
So, that night after the kids were in bed, I plopped down on the couch with the 88 page elementary school book and dove in. 45 minutes later I not only confirmed my earlier opinion that this was a good educational book for pre-teens but also found that I had enjoyed the story myself.
The story begins with what may possibly be the best birthday present ever given to a 12 year old, a riding lawn mower. Our protagonist starts it up and begins mowing his own family's lawn only to have the next door neighbor lean over the fence and ask him how much he charges for lawns. Thus begins his lawn mowing business. I liked that his lawn mowing job arose while he was working rather than sitting on the couch. While I don't believe in karma, I do think that people working hard and taking some action are more likely to come across opportunities. A good lesson for the kids.
Throughout the book the author is continuously breaking down the finances from Lawn Boy's various enterprises. He goes into the math and ideas related to income minus expenses, taxes, commissions, bonuses, etc. Even if a little of the vocabulary sticks, it will be a benefit. Confidence in interviews or any discussion of difficult topics comes from familiarity. Learning some of the terms and concepts now about profit and loss can make it easier to understand them later. The titles of the chapters are great just by themselves (Chapter 3 - The Law of Increasing Product Demand Versus Flat Production Capacity).
In Chapter 3 our hero meets Arnold, a new lawn client who becomes his partner/stock broker/agent. Lawn Boy was doing fine on his own and making good money mowing lawns but through partnering with Arnold he was able to expand his business dramatically. Throughout many books on leadership, it is pointed out that success is very rarely achieved by oneself. Being able and willing to ask for help is a key to advancement in your kid's career.
Finally, Lawn Boy, who has been afraid to tell his parents about his success all summer comes clean and Mom and Dad surprise him with their understanding and support. A great message to kids that it is OK to talk with Mom and Dad. We can be trusted!
My son is 10 and enjoyed the book. Older kids will have a better grasp of some of the bigger words. This is also a good book to read with your kids. The questions that come up while reading will help your kids to understand and retain more of the ideas.
Not all elementary school books have to be about boogers or ponies!