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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6667/economics-for-kids/

Economics for Kids

May 22, 2007 by


Summer is a great time for kids
to pursue a different kind of learning. Economics, for example. For
the most part, they don’t teach this stuff in school, and when they
do, it’s usually about the glories of government management.


Economics is not to be neglected in education! The student
either will either receive guidance or fall victim to fallacy.


Now, it’s not the case that the sooner you read Human
Action
the better. Certainly levels of abstract reasoning
require a certain age and maturity, and for books such as this, or
Rothbard’s Man,
Economy, and State
, college age is the right
time.
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But there is a way
to teach economics in order to prepare kids for intellectual battle.
They do need this education, for kids these days encounter
soft-socialist reasoning in many aspects of life. They encounter
massive environmentalist propaganda from an early age. Teachers and
the media will tell them that their parents are evil for taking long
showers, or shopping at Wal-Mart, or for failing to drive an
electric car.


A great place to
start is with an understanding of price movements. Kids (to say
nothing of adults!) often notice gas prices rises and falling, for
example. Why does this happen? Is it the greed of the gas-station
owners at work?



For starters, we recommend
Whatever
Happened to Penny Candy $32
, an easy but informative read by Richard
Maybury. It comes with a helpful study guide. It explains supply,
demand, and goes into some detail (always entertaining) about
monetary inflation. This is the start of a good economics education
that links up the cause and the effects of certain ubiquitous
phenomena. It helps the child think through several stages of
reasoning, and puts them way ahead of others in this respect.
Everyone knows that kids love coins: this helps them understand how
coins are depreciated by government and where paper money comes
from.



For slightly older kids, the
novel form serves as an excellent path to economic enlightenment. We
can heartily recommend Henry Hazlitt’s brilliant novel, href="http://mises.org/store/Time-Will-Run-Back-P355C0.aspx">Time
Will Run Back $25 . The plot begins in a fully socialist society in
which the new leader, who finds himself in that position only by
accident, begins to rethink the economic basis of the system. He
begins to wonder whether the economy is doing well at all, and how
they might discover this. This sets the leadership on a path to
thinking about prices and calculation, and the very meaning of
productivity. Trading is introduced when the leadership can’t see
anything wrong with the idea of trading rationing tickets, and
shortly markets appear, and everyone seems to be better off as a
result. The whole socialist system unravels piece by piece, to the
benefit of the whole society.


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This novel is an excellent
introduction to the problems of economic systems, and can be a great
benefit to young people who are curious about the meaning of
economic analysis. It is, in fact, suitable for all ages. And a good
follow up to this book is a non-fiction work by Hazlitt, href="http://mises.org/store/Conquest-of-Poverty-The-P353C0.aspx">The
Conquest of Poverty $20 , which deals directly with the whole
question of how societies come to be poor or rich. The details about
life before the age of capitalism are riveting, and show what a
mistake it is to take wealth for granted (as people are wont to do).

href="http://mises.org/store/Conquest-of-Poverty-The-P353C0.aspx">


Another good series here, meant
particularly for junior and early high school, is by Bettina
Greaves: href="http://mises.org/store/Free-Market-Economics-A-Syllabus-P392C0.aspx">Free
Market Economics: A Syllabus $21 and href="http://mises.org/store/Free-Market-Economics-A-Reader-P393C0.aspx">
Free Market Economics: A Reader $22. Both were commissioned back in
the 1970s by Leonard Reed. He pushed hard to get these finished so
that a solid economics education could be available in an accessible
format for young people. They worked remarkably well, even to the
point of educating a whole generation. We’ve brought them back for
modern readers in a large format. They will provide a full year of
study for a young person, and introduce nearly all fields within the
discipline. They also expose the reader to a wide range of
top-quality literature.



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Finally, for the student preparing
for college, we draw your attention to An
Introduction to Economic Reasoning $15
, by David Gordon. It teaches
the intelligent young reader how to think about economic problems in
a manner consistent with the Austrian School tradition. Its chapters
on action, preference, demand and supply, value theory, money, and
price controls emphasize deductive logic, the market process, and
the failures of government intervention.

As the only text of
its kind, this book is engaging, funny, filled with examples, and
never talks down to the student. It is perfect for homeschoolers,
but every student, young or old, will benefit from it. Indeed, a
student familiar with its contents will be fully prepared to see
through the fallacies of the introductory economics texts used at
the college level.



This summer is a great time to begin a solid economic education!
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{ 5 comments }

Jim Fedako May 22, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy was the book that introduced me – at age 38 – to Austrian Economics. I read the book after my wife bought it as an economics text for my oldest son. Penny Candy shook my neoclassical background to the core, in an evening nonetheless.

The book is a great introduction to the free market for middleschoolers, highschoolers, and adults who haven’t yet shed the statist influences of public education.

A truly excellent book!

Daniel M Ryan May 22, 2007 at 9:37 pm

This isn’t directly related to the post, but it’s too good not to pass along. It’s a snippet from the intro of today’s Daily Reckoning: “Cheap money is making a lot of things a lot dearer than they used to be”.

If you’ve seen through the sloppy popular use of the term “cheap money,” then you’ll appreciate the charm in that snippet. The double meaning may have been deliberate. (I hope it was.)

joe May 23, 2007 at 4:26 am

Don’t forget about Jonathan Gullible:
http://www.jonathangullible.com/

But by far the best way to teach a kid economics is to have them play “Settlers of Catan”: trade, savings, capitalisation, comparative adventage..

Speedmaster May 23, 2007 at 7:25 am

Great info and leads, thanks!!

I got my kids the Penny Candy books last year.

E. Harding November 23, 2008 at 9:40 am

Some other great books for kids are “Not a Zero Sum Game”, “Economics in One Lesson”and Robert Murphy’s “The Importance of Capital Theory”. For older ones, I would suggest Say’s Catechism of Political Economy, and, of course, Murray Rothbard’s classic “What Has Government Done to Our Money”.

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