If you haven’t heard of Mark Victor Hansen of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series mega-fame, you probably haven’t heard of Christmas, either. But if there’s a tween, teen or young adult on your holiday shopping list, it’s time you heard of him now.

His latest book, "The Richest Kids in America: How They Earn It, How They Spend It, How You Can Too" (Hansen House, 2009), provides a fresh, kid-centered slant on the basics of entrepreneurship, innovation and philanthropy — necessities for kids who want to get a head start on starting or just understanding today’s complex financial and business environment.

Don’t be put off by the materialistic-sounding title — this book is actually a primer for and about kids that emphasizes dollars and cents much less than it does passion, vision, creativity and giving.

Book Review
Title: "The Richest Kids in America: How they Earn it, How they Spend it, How you Can, Too"
Author: Mark Victor Hansen
Publisher: Hansen House, 2009; 168 pages; $10.19 on amazon.com

If you haven’t heard of Mark Victor Hansen of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series mega-fame, you probably haven’t heard of Christmas, either. But if there’s a tween, teen or young adult on your holiday shopping list, it’s time you heard of him now.

His latest book, "The Richest Kids in America: How They Earn It, How They Spend It, How You Can Too" (Hansen House, 2009), provides a fresh, kid-centered slant on the basics of entrepreneurship, innovation and philanthropy — necessities for kids who want to get a head start on starting or just understanding today’s complex financial and business environment.

Don’t be put off by the materialistic-sounding title — this book is actually a primer for and about kids that emphasizes dollars and cents much less than it does passion, vision, creativity and giving.

Formatted to maximize attention-grabbing and minimize eye-glazing, and written in language that breaks down the complex into very simple but powerful concepts, "The Richest Kids In America" is set off by Hansen’s two big conceptual bookends: introductory and conclusory exhortations to "Dream Big" (introduction) and "Live Big" (conclusion), which are full of youth-oriented versions of the potential-pushing motivational material for which Hansen is so well known.

After cheerleading them to dream big, Hansen takes young readers through three sections on entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Section 1, "Creating Money with Your …," briefs readers on how they can convert curiosity into cash, how to harness their passions with purpose, and how to adopt a cycle of "learning, earning and returning," before it provides the inspirational case study of Internet mogul Cameron Johnson, who started his business at 12.

Then, in Section 2, "Making it Work," Hansen takes readers from inspiration to execution, teaching them the basics of how to convert problems in the marketplace (and in their lives!) into an actionable business model; the power of niche marketing; and how to harness a strong support network of family, advisers and peers to power their business efforts.

Throughout, each chapter is filled with the real-life stories of young people who are operating their own profitable businesses.

The book’s final section, "Building a Brand to Command," briefs readers on why and how they should understand and own every area of their business, time management concerns, and the importance of "Giving to Make a Living," again featuring story after story of the challenges, lessons learned and stunning successes of many other young entrepreneurs — both at business and at giving back.

While it might seem to some that young people should be protected from worries about money as long as possible, that approach has proven flawed, as the last generation or so has been bombarded with credit-card offers, student loans and other potential financial pitfalls even before they start college.

To expose them only to the hazards without providing them with the tools for financial, business and career empowerment and self-sufficiency seems misguided and lopsided, at best. My 16-year-old will be getting a copy of "The Richest Kids in America" for Christmas — and yours should, too.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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