Dear Dr. Tightwad -- I have a grandchild (age 10) who is interested in getting into the stock market, and I was wondering if you could suggest some companies that will sell one or two shares directly to the individual. These would be companies that the child could relate to and find interesting.Dear Dr. Tightwad -- I am looking for a way my daughter can invest in the stock market by buying a few shares and not being assessed astronomical charges and fees. Is there anything you can recommend?

Answer -- This week's column kicks off a series in which I'll answer the two questions above -- and, I hope, plenty more besides. Those questions are representative of the flood of queries I get looking for suggestions on how to introduce kids to the stock market.

As the Kiplinger's expert on kids and money, I also get an occasional poke in the ribs and conspiratorial wink from friends who assume that my own three children must be off and running on Wall Street. "So, what do your kids invest in?" they ask (poke, wink).

But my kids aren't investment gurus by a long shot. While as a writer I try to practice what I preach, as a parent I have had mixed success.

A couple of years ago when Charles Schwab ran a special deal allowing holders of custodial accounts to make one commission-free trade, each of my kids invested $150 in a stock of his or her choosing: PepsiCo, Walt Disney and Hershey Foods. Since then Schwab has not repeated its no-commission promotion, and the kids haven't bought more stock. But the seeds have been planted, and as the children grow I hope their interest will, too, along with their portfolios.

For some kids, the investment spark is effortlessly fired. Playing a stock-market simulation game in school was all it took for 14-year-old Will Andersen. Says the Conyers, Ga., teen: "We were trying to make quick money, so we'd buy eBay or America Online, which might go up 15 points one day and down 10 the next."

The next logical step was to put his own money -- from a savings account, summer earnings and gifts -- to work. That's when he began to lean more conservatively toward big growth companies such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

"They had pretty good long-term growth," Will says. "I'm willing to take a little risk so my money will grow, but not a huge risk so that it will change dramatically."

Next: Using a low-cost broker.

Have a question about kids and finances for Dr. Tightwad? Write to Dr. T at 1729 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20006. Or send the good doctor an e-mail message (and any other questions for this column) to jbodnar@kiplinger.com.