ROGERS PARK — Author RoHiKa Hardas is helping Rogers Park students learn the basics of financial literacy, one colorful children’s book at a time.
In a series of school visits in Rogers Park last week, the New York-based children’s author read from and handed out 400 copies of “Lily Goes to the Bank,” the first book in her Lily the Wealth Builder series. The book series seeks to teach kids the basics of how money works and, eventually, how to become financially secure.
With Americans owing $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and the average household credit card debt hitting nearly $7,000 in 2019, not enough people are being educated on proper financial literacy, Hardas said. She is trying to change that with the next generation.
“We’re just not educating children about money,” Hardas said. “We feel like an early financially literacy program is where habits can be formed.”
Hardas works primarily in the Bronx, which is socio-economically similar to Rogers Park, she said. The author works to correct the discrepancy between how wealthy families and poorer families discuss the basics of money with their children. Hardas has held family engagement workshops to help parents discuss the topic with their kids.
“We want Rogers Park and Bronx families to feel empowered to talk to their children about money,” Hardas said. “And we want children to be curious about money, to ask the right questions.”
It was the author’s second trip to Rogers Park, after she was previously invited by Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) to a local back-to-school event, where she handed out 500 books and met principals and teachers.
Hardas visited a number of Rogers Park schools last week, reading from her book and asking students about the basics of money. She spoke about the difference between a piggy bank and an actual bank, about the different denominations of money and why it’s good to save money.
Students, mostly first graders, at the readings also left with a copy of “Lily Goes to the Bank.”
“We don’t want them to get caught up in the cost of the book,” Hardas said. “We want them to get interested in the topic.”