“ How long will it take me to pay off my credit card?” “How do I create a budget?” “What is a trade deficit?” Students can find the answers to these and many other financial questions using Rosen’s most recent entry into the digital realm. Financial Literacy is a well-designed database providing more than 400 articles and covering a wide range of topics, including information about “macro-, micro-, and global economics as well as personal and household finance.”
Grade Level 7 Up
Cost Tiered pricing begins at $595 for an annual subscription for schools and public libraries, and is based on student enrollment or cardholder numbers.
Overview Don’t let the simple homepage layout fool you—there is a ton of information in this database. Rosen has revised and updated material from more than 500 new and backlist titles, readying it for online use—and that effort shows.
Topics are timely, relevant, and made accessible to the intended audience. The homepage displays a list of seven broad financial topics that users can select; these range from “Entrepreneurship and Career Skills” to “Role of Government” to “The Market Economy.” The homepage also offers two featured articles: “Making Sense of It” discusses a current event, while “Take a Closer Look” typically contains a story with video; the one displayed at the time of the review, for example, stars teenage girls discussing how to start and market a small business. Users can also try one of six different financial calculators or get involved by answering the daily quiz or poll. Resources for teachers and librarians include Common Core and state-specific standards correlations, promotional materials, and Web buttons.
Content and Usability To get an idea of the content available here, users will want to browse by simply drilling down into a topic of interest. For example, clicking on the homepage topic “Personal Finance” brings up a list of related issues, which include “Credit and Debt,” “The Economy and the Individual,” and “Income and Careers,” to name a few. Under “Credit and Debt” are four relevant articles including “First Credit Card and Credit Smarts,” which is presented in very manageable sections. “Entrepreneurship and Careers Skills” offers helpful advice on job seeking, including how to write résumés and cover letters and prepare for interviews. Articles are divided into 8 to 12 prominently labeled subdivisions. “Previous” and “Next” navigation buttons allow readers to easily turn to the next screen.
A search box is provided for more specific queries. In addition, topics may be browsed alphabetically or by subject, and doing either reveals the depth of material provided.
Layout This database is not cutesy but rather reflects a more serious approach, a smart choice for the topic and intended age group. The interface is pleasantly consistent and predictable. Every article is presented in the same way, with a menu of sections on the left and the text on the right. At any time the user may click on the large “Financial Literacy” link on the top left to go to the homepage.
Some of the pages could use additional back navigation buttons. For example, after clicking on a calculator there are no buttons within the database that will bring the user back to the calculators’ menu page. Also, the “Browse A-Z” and “Browse Subject” buttons do not work when using Internet Explorer 8, but were fine on the iPad (Rosen recommends the use of Internet Explorer 9), while, using the iPad, moving the mouse over a highlighted word provides a definition that is then hard to remove.
Rosen offers a user-friendly option to print or email either a section or the full article. Six financial calculators help with, for example, auto loan payments, college costs, and budgeting. Each article includes “investigate” topics that encourage related reading on the subject.
Articles can be translated into 50 different languages using a built-in Google Translate option. There are text-to-speech capabilities, although the voice is robotic and thus the pacing and pronunciation are off at times. However, for students who need the audio, it is a valuable feature. Article citations are provided in APA and MLA formats. The material is written in plain language, although unfortunately the authors are sometimes condescending or preachy (“teenagers should turn off the television and learn…non-exportable jobs…”).
The Common Core and state-specific standards correlations can be viewed on screen or exported to an Excel spreadsheet. Social bookmarking allows for sharing of articles, and the material is iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and netbook compatible.
Verdict This accessible database hosts a wealth of information for students and provides teachers with a solid resource to support financial-literacy lessons. Rosen has taken into account the needs of students and teachers in creating this comprehensive tool for the classroom, and the end product is a valuable, dynamic resource.
Stephanie Farnlacher is a librarian at Trace Crossings School, Hoover, AL