A Children’s Story By A Bank: Should You Read It To Your Child?
The days when children’s bedtime stories used to have fairy tales about princesses in distress who were rescued, one way or another, by their prince and eloped with him to a land far, far away and lived happily ever after, seem to be fading away. At least that is what can be assumed from the fact that the bank HSBC has published a children’s book.
Of course, it is not every day that a bank publishes a book, let alone one with a story that is written for children. It is certainly strange, however HSBC’s justification for taking such a step is profound to a great extent. According to the bank, it was revealed in a recent survey that understanding of the financial system varies with gender as early as 10 years of age.
Fewer Girls Than Boys Understand Money
Sadly, it does not come as quite a shock that girls have been left in the dark about the financial sector compared to boys their age. Due to existent, prevalent, and systematic patriarchal systems, even now boys are more involved in discussions pertaining to financial matter compared to girls.
According to the survey conducted by HSBC, 34% of the parents with daughters revealed that they refrained from discussing financial matters in front of kids, while only 24% of those with sons refrained from doing so.
This, in turn, has led to disparity between the genders when it comes to having knowledge of the financial sector. According to the bank’s survey, around 67% of girls said they did not understand the conceptual framework behind money, while only 50% of boys said the same.
When asked about how good they were with handling their pocket money, 43% of the girls said they were good while 51% of the boys answered the same. In general, boys were revealed to be more comfortable and confident when it came to finances.
Writing a Story
Recognizing that such inequality in financial knowledge exists even at such a young age between boys and girls, HSBC, in an effort to equalize the playing field, decided to publish a storybook in collaboration with Emma Dodd, a famous children’s author, called Fairer Tales. The book was made available online as well to allow parents easy access to the reading material, and to ensure that it reaches as many young children as possible. The book is also planned to be distributed among primary schools around the country.
The book does not create new characters, instead leverages on old yet popular ones such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, among others. However their individual storylines have been drastically altered to take out their dependence on a prince to liberate them. For example, Cinderella is said to start a business of her own, while Sleeping Beauty is shown to be taking advantage of a growing savings account as she sleeps for years.
Is The Message Getting Across?
While the bank’s intentions are remarkable, we are unsure whether the book will be able to achieve its intended purpose. For example, although the fact that the princesses are shown to be independently capable of handling themselves is good to subvert the mainstream notion that encourages dependence of women on men, these ideas may be too complex for children to grasp on a conscious level.
However, the idea that a princess thinks about saving up and starting her own business is a very powerful one in itself, and if anything it can offer a strong and independent role model for young girls to follow.
How Parents Can Help
While reading a story designed for children by a bank may not be a very inviting thought for parents, it is still a good enough start to encourage financial know-how in children. After all, according to a research conducted at Cambridge University, financial behaviors exhibited in adulthood are formed during the childhood of a person.
Discussing money with children is a necessary practice if you want your children to have the ability to handle money when they are older, and as research has shown, it is very important that you do so with both boys and girls so that all children are able to grow up into financially responsible adults.
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