La Jolla resident’s book teaches kids the ins and outs of running a business
Paul Filenko’s ‘Kyle & Mira Sell Lemonade’ is a ‘more lively and creative’ version of a book originally released four years ago.
Lemonade stands have been used as a starter business for children for decades and have been used locally to raise money for everything from victims of the war in Ukraine to relief for the recent wildfire in Maui. But a recently published book puts a new spin on how the lemonade stand can teach children about commerce.
“Kyle & Mira Sell Lemonade” by La Jolla resident Paul Filenko is a heavily illustrated book intended for children ages 5-11 that discusses creating and running a business. The story is centered on the two title characters and their lemonade stand to raise money to buy bicycles. Along the way, they learn about loans, supplies and what happens when they don’t have enough money to reach their goal.
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“The main takeaway is to introduce schoolchildren to basic concepts of how to start and run a business,” Filenko said. “It is done in as playful a manner as possible. It’s essentially a comic book, so it is very lighthearted, yet the idea is to introduce real-world terminology and the process that takes place when starting a business.”
The inspiration for the book came from Filenko’s sons, Marko, 11, and Luka, 9, one of whom was constantly asking questions about how grocery stores choose their prices or how an ice cream shop gets its ingredients. While books were available that answered the questions, they were either too simple or too advanced.
Filenko, an engineer by training, decided to take the concepts covered in an MBA course and condense them so a child could understand them but without losing the substance.
“This is a great first step for [children] to get an overview of how the world works and how basic business is run. It might inspire them to start a business of their own one day.”
— Paul Filenko
“I noticed when you use standard adult words with children, they get used to it,” he said. “So each page covers one subject of a standard MBA curriculum. One page is pricing strategy, another is on investor relations. So it’s fairly advanced but also simplified so children can understand.”
The first version of the book was released four years ago, written and illustrated by Filenko. “People started buying it, and one of them was [illustrator] Max McCourt. We decided to collaborate to release a new version that was more lively and creative,” Filenko said.
As the story was being developed, it was given to friends and colleagues in business and education, as well as children, parents and teachers at Torrey Pines Elementary School in La Jolla.
Among the changes in the second version were more drama for Kyle and Mira, a professor who narrates the story with more explanation of the concepts, and a glossary in the back.
“I think it’s critical for children that are naturally interested in these concepts to … get some level of exposure to it,” Filenko said. “This is a great first step for them to get an overview of how the world works and how basic business is run. It might inspire them to start a business of their own one day.”
The goal is to reach school libraries and youth groups that might be interested in offering the book, he said.
Filenko said he is “extremely proud” of the finished product and intends to use it as a springboard for future projects. Among the ideas stirring for Kyle and Mira are to plan a camping trip to teach children about safety and responsibility and to plan a party to learn about budgeting and organization.
“Kyle & Mira Sell Lemonade” is available via Amazon. ◆