Take a quick scroll through almost any Facebook comments section and one thing quickly becomes clear: the general population lacks a solid understanding of social and political structures, not to mention economics and personal finances. It’s a knowledge gap that creates significant social issues: aside from driving hostile discourses on Facebook, it also presents a barrier to solving serious systemic problems.
More Than Money: How Economic Inequality Affects Everything is notable precisely because it aims to educate young readers about economic issues just as they’re poised to become fully active citizens. Addressing these topics could have been an overwhelming task, but authors Hadley Dyer and Mitchell Bernard accomplish it remarkably well using a three-part structure that starts simple and builds up.
Part One: The Basics covers questions like “What is income inequality?” and helps readers figure out where they stand on the economic ladder. Part Two: Haves and Have-Nots explains how levels of inequality vary from country to country, where gender and intergenerational wealth factor in, and other dynamics that cause financial inequality to grow or shrink. Part Three encourages readers to apply their newfound knowledge and take civic action toward increased economic fairness. All of this is written in clear language, making it relatively easy to understand these complex topics.
Dyer and Bernard take obvious care to present the material in a way that will resonate with most teen readers. In less adept hands, the contents of this book could have been too dry to absorb. But by applying facts and figures to real-life experiences, like the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the authors make it easier for readers to relate and understand how economic inequality directly affects them and the people around them. The sidebars scattered throughout offer additional insights, highlighting actual teens who are working toward income equality, summarizing important points, and providing links for additional research.
Paul Gill’s illustrations add a dash of colour and context to the book. These illustrations are sometimes aesthetic, serving simply to break up the text on a page, but at other points, they’re integral to the arguments being made, as when Gill uses a cartoon to demonstrate the impacts of wage stagnation.
Overall, More Than Money is an important tool that will help young adults understand and discuss their own financial positions, develop compassion for others, and become engaged citizens with the economic knowledge they will need in order to effectively address long-ignored systemic inequities.