Friday, August 10, 2007

Economics for Young Kids

A reader asks for a recommendation:

Dear Prof. Mankiw,

I'm a big fan of your intro book and your blog. I've used your book at Centre College, a small, selective liberal arts college near Lexington, Kentucky, since the first edition.

A family friend with two young daughters, ages 8 and 10, has asked my wife to ask me, "Maya was asking why the same things today cost so much more than years ago; Isabel wanted to know if the people who made those things years ago have so much more money now, since prices have risen. Does Bruce have any suggestions on books for kids to understand inflation, etc.?"

I don't know of anything and was wondering if you have any recommendations? If not, no need to reply--you must be swamped with e-mail.

Thanks so much,
Bruce Johnson

I don't have a lot a great ideas for you. I sometimes talk with my kids about economics, but I don't push it on them, and I have never given them any assigned reading!

One resource for educational material is the National Council on Economic Education. Much of their material is for high school students and teachers, but some is aimed at younger ages. Readers are encouraged to post their suggestions in the comments section.

As long as we are on the topic of children's books, I cannot help but mention Ellsworth, which sadly seems out of print. This picture book (aimed at ages three and up) does not teach any economics, but here is the plot summary:
Because Ellsworth, a dog, behaves too much like a dog when he is off duty, he is asked to leave his job as economics professor at Wallywell [University], causing him quite natural concern for the future.
Don't worry: It ends happily ever after.