Roselle resident, Jamaica native, releases book that teaches financial literacy to youths

ROSELLE, NJ — Author Renaee Smith recently released the fifth book in her “Freddie” series. In “Freddie Learns the Value of Money,” Freddie tackles chores to save up for a new bike. He learns that budgeting and saving are essential in his financial journey.

The story is for children ages 6 to 12. The series helps children develop an understanding of hard work, family values, giving back to the community and helping the environment.

“I model Freddie after my three sons, who, while all grown up, will always be little boys in my heart,” said Smith. “I wanted to make sure that I feature a black boy as the main character, so that they can see themselves in my books. I also made sure to include multicultural characters. Representation is so important, and I hope that, by incorporating a variety of backgrounds in my stories, I am doing my part to leave a positive legacy for my children and grandchildren.”

According to an Ohio State University study, financial literacy has declined nationwide. New Jersey has worked to address this issue by incorporating financial literacy lessons, starting in middle school. “Freddie Learns the Value of Money” shows children how to handle funds and exposes how easy it can be to be tempted to spend while trying to reach your goals.

“I am incredibly proud of the series, and I feel that everyone — young and old — can take something away from each story,” said Smith. “When I write, I am often inspired by my environment. I am active in my local community. Previously, I acted as a sitting member for the Roselle Board of Education, and am the proud founder of a nonprofit for authors, Independent Authors Book Experience. I also work at a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Union County — the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. So Freddie tends to be very engaged with his community and helping others.”

Each book in the series contains full-color illustrations accompanying educational messages. The first four books are:

• “Freddie Goes to the Beach,” about the value of family.

• “The Great Compost Heap,” about “recycling” kitchen and garden waste, and making a difference in a community.

• “Freddie’s First Race,” which teaches about perseverance, hard work, staying focused, and never giving up.

• “Freddie’s Good Deed,” which explains that one should do good things for others because it is the right thing to do.

Smith has also published a book with her mother, Nella Perrier, called “Dorianne the Baker,” about someone who bakes cookies to sell at a school bake sale. The book includes easy-to-make recipes. Her story “Who Turned the Lights Out?” broaches the difficult conversation of homelessness and poverty in an approachable fashion. Proceeds from this book benefit the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Finally, Smith published two cookbooks featuring recipes reflecting her Jamaican roots.

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Photo Courtesy of Renaee Smith