My Rows and Piles of Coins
written by Tololwa M. Mollel; illustrated by E.B. Lewis
1999 (Clarion Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library
Young Saruni helps his mother Yeyo sell her goods at a Tanzanian market. In return, she gives him five ten-cent coins and urges him to buy something. He is tempted by roasted peanuts, chapati (fried flat bread), rice cakes, and sambusa (pouch of dough stuffed with meat and vegetables), but what really tempts him is a row of bicycles. Saruni has been acquiring bumps and bruises while trying to learn how to ride his father Murete's bicycle and he longs to buy his own. Deciding to save his money, Saruni withholds spending his money in the hope of buying a bike one day. He continues to help his mother at the market and he makes rows and piles of his coins to count them. Soon, Saruni learns to ride his father's bike and how to carry a load on the bike. He goes back to the market with bundles holding his coins so he can buy a new bike. Unfortunately, the man selling bikes laughs at Saruni because he does not have enough money. Discouraged, he tells Yeyo what happened. What Saruni doesn't know is a big surprise is awaiting him.
We're teaching an economics unit in our second grade classroom and this book fits it perfectly. Saruni is a model of saving money to reach a goal. It's also great for teaching arrays as E.B. Lewis's illustrations show the stacks of coins. My students were counting the money when they saw the pictures. Other economic terms, such as goods and services, also come into play with this book. My Rows and Piles of Coins would be a nice addition to a multiplication unit and/or a unit on economics.
Here's a lesson plan based on the book from Social Studies Research and Practice: