Great kids' books about financial ruin.

Snapshots of life at home.
Oct. 9 2008 7:06 AM

Mom, What's a Credit Default Swap?

Books to read your children during a financial crisis.

Click here to launch a slide show on great kids' books about financial ruin.

The first time I heard the word recession, I was 10 years old. It was 1978, and my parents, like everyone we knew, were cranky and stressed out about gas shortages and rising food prices. One of the ways I coped was by burying my nose in books and discovering kids who had it worse than I did. Like Ramona Quimby, whose dad got fired and took up residence on the couch. And Laura Ingalls, whose dad kept hitching up the wagon to drag his bonneted brood to the middle of nowhere. Many of the books I discovered during the late '70s featured themes of economic hardship that made my circumstances seem manageable by comparison—a happy coincidence, I thought at the time. Looking back, I'm not so sure this was an accident. A review of popular American children's books of the past century reveals a recurring theme in the children's publishing industry: When times are tough, cue the stories about times that were even tougher.

Click herefor a slide show on great children's books for tough economic times.

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Erica S. Perl is the author of Ninety-Three in My Familyand Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early. She has also written two novels for young people that are forthcoming, and she contributes to Pajamazon, the children's book column at Offsprung.com.