By Peter Schwartz
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At first glance, the title might suggest that parents would want to keep this book as far away from kids as possible.  After all, would you want your kids learning about gambling at a young age?

However, the new book — “The Rookie Bookie” by Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz — is a fascinating introduction into economic concepts through sports for young readers ages 8 through 13.

The childhood friends also co-authored the New York Times bestseller “Scorecasting,” and they use elements of that book in an educational and fun first novel for kids.

These days, thanks to technology, kids have an easier time understanding the concepts that are in the book.

“With kids and fantasy leagues and understanding advanced stats, I think sometimes we set the bar too low,” said Wertheim, an executive editor for Sports Illustrated. “This book introduces some behavioral economics and some probability concepts. It’s wrapped around a sports story, so hopefully it’s enjoyable.”

The story centers around a seventh-grade boy named Mitch Sloan.  He is the new kid in school and is looking for a way to fit in with the other students.  He’s all about being an entrepreneur and making money, but also desires to make new friends.

Toby Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim (Credit: L. Jon Wertheim)

Toby Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim (Credit: L. Jon Wertheim)

Sloan is able to attain popularity in the sports-obsessed town by starting a betting ring. Along the way, he meets a girls but their friendship goes awry.

“They’re both into sports,” said Wertheim.  “The boy loves sports but isn’t particularly athletic. We’re not kids’ book writers, but we learned that there should be something subversive.  In this case, there’s a betting pool and there should be some tension.”

That tension arises when Mitch gets caught and has to win back the girl’s friendship by using his smarts to help the school’s football team.

While the book has a sports element to it, it’s also very much about introducing kids to basic economics.  Given today’s sports landscape, especially when it comes to fantasy leagues, the concepts are easier for these kids to grasp than you might think.

"The Rookie Bookie" cover (Credit: L. Jon Wertheim)

“The Rookie Bookie” cover (Credit: L. Jon Wertheim)

“Part of this is sort of helped by technology, and part of this is helped by what sports is becoming,” said Wertheim. “If you’re in a fantasy league, you see how numbers can deceive you. There’s no reason why a 12-year-old kid can’t understand compound interest, comparative pricing or supply and demand.”

All in all, this terrific book for young readers is a fun journey that combines sports, statistics and financial literacy.

“The Rookie Bookie” is published by Little Brown Books.  For more information, visit this page.

The book is also available on amazon.com.

You can follow me on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan.  You can also follow Jon Wertheim @jon_wertheim and the publisher @littlebrown.

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