For years, people have approached the Mises Institute about publishing a book on economics for kids. But why reinvent the wheel?
Richard Maybury's wonderful little book, Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, is a fast, fascinating, and easy-to-understand introduction to economic topics like inflation, prices, trade, and business. It comes with a helpful study guide that is just right for a classroom setting.
The author put this book together under the influence of Murray Rothbard and Henry Hazlitt. He sought to make their insights understandable to junior high kids. The book is now in its fifth edition, and the author has responded well to many comments from teachers and parents along the way.
If you have read Rothbard's What Has Government Done to Our Money? or any of the larger treatises in the Austrian library, this book is not for you. However, if you know a young person who needs a kick start to economic thinking, or if you want to set someone straight who carries around crazy illusions about fundamentals, this book can do a world of good.
It's true that economic theory is a subject for adults — you don't want to assign Human Action to an 11-year old — but kids can be taught plenty too. They don't need details about epistemology or exchange rates. But by enticing them into the subject matter of money and how it gains and loses value, you plant important seeds for future study.
That is precisely what Maybury's book does. He has a knack for clean expression and simple word choices. He helps people think through what causes prices to rise, the trials that businesses face, the motive force behind entrepreneurship, where wealth comes from, what prosperity and poverty mean, and what kinds of intervention harm business.
He also covers some of the most exciting if financially devastating periods of economic history from the the German hyperinflation of the 1920s to the Great Depression to the 1970s inflation in the United States.
The study guide, by Jane Williams, is also an essential tool for students. We made it part of the package since this book is best used in a home school or private school setting.
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