Economics for Kids

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Children’s books are teaching all kinds of lessons and not just the morals-heavy, value-driven ones that are meant to stave off latent delinquency.

Read between the lines of children’s lit and you can brush up on some conceptual economics. One can begin to understand  economic efficiency by reading Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, or learn the perils of overindulgent consumersim (remember what happened to Veruca in Charlie and the Chocoloate Factory?). Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, is all about environmental degradation, though the story reveals faulty economic logic because it doesn’t account for the increase in value of scarce resources in a modern capitalist economy. Though, it’s still a great story, right?

“For the most part, the economic concepts conveyed in the books reflect values like generosity and equity rather than competition. Raymond Fisman, an economist at Columbia University, said his 3-year-old daughter’s favorite books teach the importance of sharing and gift-giving, values that might not lead to the greatest wealth in the real world. But, he added, ‘I doubt that 3 is the age where you start teaching people the brutal economic truths of grown-up commerce.’”


Sam Riley is an adult who works at McSweeney's. More from this author →