Ailani: Our parents helped us a lot. We only know so much about money because of them. And they really support us a lot with the book. They put a lot of money into the whole thing because I know they believe in us. I am also really grateful for all of our teachers too who have helped us become better writers and storytellers over the years. And our grandparents support us a lot and tell everyone about our book.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing ‘Ailani and Aralynn Riley
‘Ailani is the 10-year-old author and financial literacy advocate behind the new children’s book If Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, Where DOES it Grow?
Aralynn Riley is a 7-year-old author who co-wrote the book If Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, Where DOES it Grow? with her older sister ‘Ailani.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
‘Ailani: My Mom was a young Mom. She had me when she was a teenager, and we didn’t always have a lot of money in the beginning. But she decided to learn more about money so that she can get good with it and give us a better life. And basically, she shares this knowledge with my sister and me because she doesn’t want us to struggle with money when we grow up. She wants us to be good with money before we even get out in the world.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
‘Ailani: I really like the Babysitter’s Club series because it teaches me a lot about working together with friends. I think that is one thing that made me want to write a book to help other kids get good with money. I really wanted my friends to know more about it so we can maybe try building something together.
Aralynn: I like the book Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris because I am very ambitious and my Mom is ambitious and my sister is ambitious. And I learned that it is good to be ambitious no matter what people say.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
‘Ailani: Making a difference means being a leader and using that to create a change.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
‘Ailani: My sister and I wrote a book that teaches kids about earning, saving, and investing money. We are trying to help kids today become millionaires, billionaires, and trillionaires in the future.
Aralynn: When we all grow up, we want to be really good with money so we have to learn how to do that.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
‘Ailani: Actually the book idea happened when my Mom told me and my sister that she wanted us to work on a project together. It was supposed to be a project that teaches us to work together better and not argue as much. And since we both like to write, we decided to write a book. We both wanted to write a book about money because money was something we noticed our friends didn’t know a lot about. So instead of always trying to explain stuff that we learned to them, we wanted to just put it in a fun little story.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. We don’t always get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
‘Ailani: My Mom wanted us to work on a project together and that’s really what made us decide to do the book. But we didn’t think it would blow up into this big thing. At first, it was just a project to teach us a lesson about teamwork. But people read the first draft of the book and loved it so I said ‘Hey, let’s publish it.’
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
Aralynn: We had lots of meetings.
‘Ailani: Yeah, we had lots of meetings with each other and my Mom to come up with ideas. We had meetings where we would write. Then we had meetings where we would edit. We had meetings to talk about the publishing and business stuff. We had meetings about everything. There are actually a lot of steps to making a book I learned. We had lots of editing and finding illustrators and marketing stuff.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
‘Ailani: We have had sooooo much support from family and friends and our community and other authors. We are seeing lots of positive reviews about our book and people are really loving it. It is so cool because we weren’t even going to publish the book at first.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Aralynn: We argued a lot.
‘Ailani: We definitely argued a lot. My Mom had to help control the meetings because we weren’t really getting anywhere because we would just spend the whole time arguing. It is funny because that is exactly why my Mom wanted us to create something together. She wanted us to learn to work together, but we still argued a lot.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
‘Ailani: Our parents helped us a lot. We only know so much about money because of them. And they really support us a lot with the book. They put a lot of money into the whole thing because I know they believe in us. I am also really grateful for all of our teachers too who have helped us become better writers and storytellers over the years. And our grandparents support us a lot and tell everyone about our book.
Aralynn: Yeah, our parents helped a lot, and they taught us a lot about money and helping other people.
Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
‘Ailani: Lots of parents have been telling us how their kids learned so much from the book. A lot of them haven’t had time to teach their kids about money so they are really happy that their kids were able to learn so much just from our book. And a lot of parents are happy that their kids now want to earn and spend their own money.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
‘Ailani: Financial literacy is obviously so important and I would love to see schools teach us more about money. It would also be great to have more programs that teach kids about building businesses or investing money. Families who don’t have a lot of money or time to learn these things should have a way to get this knowledge too. We don’t want any kids to be left behind.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
‘Ailani: (1) Publishing a book is a lot of work. (2) Making a difference can be easy but it can also be a lot of work. (3) We all need help from others. (4) Sometimes small projects can make a huge difference. (5) You will make mistakes but mistakes teach you a lot.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
‘Ailani: I would tell them that if no one ever does the work then the work won’t ever get done just like my Mom says.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
‘Ailani: I would really love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Mr. Beast from YouTube because he does something that I really want to do and hopefully can do very soon — giving large donations of money to those in need. It makes me so happy to do such great things for people and he really inspires me.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow us on Instagram at ai_and_airee and on YouTube at Certified Riley.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Young Change Makers: Why and How Ailani and Aralynn Riley are Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.