We all know that teaching students about wants and needs is super important. But guess what? Picture books make it way more fun and memorable! In this blog post, we’re diving into wants vs needs picture books that can help us explain the difference between what we want and what we actually need.
These books aren’t just entertaining – they’re like secret weapons for helping our students make smart choices and understand important stuff like money. So, let’s explore together and discover some amazing picture books that will stick with our little learners and make these lessons a breeze!
I’m sharing all of these books on video as well! Check out the Picture Books to Teach Wants vs. Needs on my Youtube channel.
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Wants vs. Needs Picture Books
Wants vs. Needs vs. Robots by Michael Rex
In his witty companion to the popular Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots, New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Michael Rex shows us why what we want isn’t always the same as what we need.
Do you know the difference between a want and a need? It can be a hard thing to understand, especially when you want something so much that you feel like you have to have it. But some things aren’t essential—like jellybean tacos and groovy boots. Other things are essential—like fuel and feet to put the boots on. The robots in this book are here to show you the difference as they make trades to get some things they really want (hooray!) but give away some things they need (oops!).
This timely companion to the popular Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots makes tricky, but vital, concepts accessible. Kids will have fun following the action and discovering this is the kind of book they really, really want to read again and again.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
Lily Learns about Wants and Needs by Lisa Bullard
How should we handle our money? Lily wants a new bike. And a new raincoat. And ice cream. But how many of these things does she need? As Lily and her dad drive around town, Lily soon discovers that wants and needs are different things. She picks out which things people have to have.
Learn how to be wise about money! These simple, engaging stories present basic financial literacy concepts, such as saving, spending, borrowing, and comparison shopping to build a foundation for a lifetime of money smarts.
Do I Want It or Do I Need It? by Jennifer Larson
Do you plan how much money you’ll use to buy candy? Or how much you’ll save for a new video game? Then you’re budgeting! A budget is a plan for spending and saving. Budgets help people decide how to use their money wisely. What do you need to buy? What do you want? And how can you make a budget? Read this book to find out.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
This award-winning modern classic—a must-have for every child’s home library—is an inclusive ode to kindness, empathy, gratitude, and finding joy in unexpected places, and celebrates the special bond between a curious young boy and his loving grandmother.
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
The Can Man by Laura E. Williams
Tim’s birthday is just a week away, and more than anything he wants a skateboard. But money is tight, and Tim knows his family cannot afford to buy him a board.
As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man’s cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his goal–until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything.
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
He really, really, REALLY wants one. He’ll take really good care of it! What’s the matter–don’t you want him to be happy? This is a great book for understanding that things we “want” in the moment, might not be what we truly want. This one will start a conversation with students about thinking through what we want and help them understand the difference between wants and needs.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
Last Sunday, Alexander’s grandparents gave him a dollar—and he was rich. There were so many things that he could do with all of that money!
He could buy as much gum as he wanted, or even a walkie-talkie, if he saved enough. But somehow the money began to disappear…
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Save this List of Wants vs. Needs Picture Books
Be sure to save this pin to your favorite read alouds board on Pinterest! You’ll be able to come back to these wants vs needs picture books when you are ready to read them aloud with your students.