REPORTS in this newspaper last week that children making their First Holy Communion are getting close to €500 in gifts from relations and friends has thrown the issue of money and children into sharp focus.
Communions are a "nice little earner" for children and the first real taste of cash that most of them get.
This month is communion month and right on cue comes a new book on the importance of teaching children good financial habits from an early stage.
Written by 'Sunday Business Post' personal finance journalist Emma Kennedy, 'Megan And The Money Tree', is about a little girl whose family grows apples to sell at the local market. When a big storm destroys the apple tree, Megan has to figure out a way to fix things and make everyone happy again.
The second part of the book is a resource for parents and teachers which helps them to explain the financial messages in Megan's story to younger readers.
It includes questions about Megan's story and also suggests interactive activities to help children develop a deeper understanding of the financial concepts introduced in the story. So what does a child make of the book?
Gillian Weston, my daughter, is 10. She made her communion two years ago and ended up getting €500 in money gifts.
Here is what Gillian had to say after reading the book:
"The book was very good. It thought me a lot I didn't know about money.
"I know now not to keep pestering my parents for something I want but they can't afford. Sometimes you have to stick with what you have if your parents cannot afford something new.
"I know now you have to take no as an answer.
"In this book Megan helps her family get back into business after a storm. She was very patient and never lost her temper. Sometimes I wish everybody could be like her. In this book, Megan's Mum and Dad have an apple tree in their garden.
"After a violent storm it gets knocked down. But Megan is very patient and she completely understands."
So there you have Gillian's view on the book -- she liked it, enjoyed reading it and got some valuable lessons about money from it.
As Ireland strives to enter a time of economic recovery and households face tight budgets, 'Megan and the Money Tree' could be a really good way to begin to teach children about money management and to plant the seeds of financial knowledge and responsibility for later life.