Connor Boyack has created The Tuttle Twins books, an outstanding series of eight books that teaches important concepts about economics, government, and personal responsibility through child-friendly stories. Boyack has taken important ideas from well-known books and authors and translated them into a very appealing format.
Boyack says the target audience is ages five through ten, athough he acknowledges that teenagers have found the books interesting as well. While these books are great for read aloud for the family, children as young as nine or ten should be able to read them and grasp the concepts on their own.
Books feature stories about two children, Ethan and Emily Tuttle, along with their friends and family. Each book is only 60 pages in length, with half or more taken up with full-color illustrations. On top of that, the text is in a large font, all of which means these books can be read quickly and easily.
Boyack’s goal is to advance belief in limited government, personal responsibility, and individual freedom–ideas supported by conservatives and libertarians. No religious views are presented. While the books work best if read in order since some principles relate to one another, this isn’t absolutely essential. I list them in order here.
The Tuttle Twins Learn about The Law advocates the idea that governments should be held to the same standards of morality as everyone else. Based on Frédéric Bastiat’s famous book, The Law, this book argues that government should not take from some people by forcible taxation to give to others since it is, in effect, stealing. It is just as wrong from governments to steal (through taxation, fees, etc.) as it would be for an individual to do so. This sounds like lofty stuff, but it’s presented through the story as their neighbor Fred uses the example of his own home-grown tomatoes. What if his neighbor Mrs. Lopez takes some without asking? Is that right or wrong? If it’s wrong, does it become right if Mrs. Lopez gets her police officer uncle to help her take them? Essentially asking if something becomes right when it’s done by a government official. Boyack doesn’t go too deep on this example, but he later discusses the idea that government can be the “bad guy” by plundering and bullying citizens, and this is wrong. Children might well bring that up.
The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil is the amazing process that it takes to create something as simple as pencils, and how it demonstrates the need for free markets and cooperation. This book is based on Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil.”
The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island exposes the negative consequences of the Federal Reserve System and its creation of fiat money. The inspiration for this book is The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin.
The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco demonstrates how companies sometimes get governments to pass laws that restrict their competitors and benefit themselves. Ideas in this book draw from Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson.
The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom exposes the dangers of central planning. This story draws on just one key idea from F. A. Hayek’s, The Road to Serfdom, a book that shows how expansion of government control reduces individual freedom.
The Tuttle Twins and the Golden Rule is about treating others the way we want them to treat us. Boyack attributes the Golden Rule to many cultures rather than just the Bible. He references Ron Paul’s A Foreign Policy of Freedom as a source for this and similar principles.
The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas shows how socialism reduces personal responsibility and ambition through a story about Atlas, a circus performer who decides to leave the circus when those who produced positive results for the business started being rewarded at the same level as those who did not. The inspiration for this story is Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged.
The Tuttle Twins and Their Spectacular Show Business moves into the personal realm of entrepreneurship and competition as the twins decide to start their own community theater, and then have to deal with a competitor. Dr. Israle Kirzner’s Competition and Entrepreneurship is referenced as a scholarly source for more on this topic.
A glossary and four to six discussion questions are at the back of each book. Parents will need to decide which questions are most appropriate for their children, since some get into deeper ideas than younger children might be ready to consider. Topics covered in these books fit readily under the heading of government and economics, but you could also use these as part of your social studies.
For each story there is a companion workbook, only available in PDF format. Workbooks have a variety of puzzles, coloring pages, worksheets, group activities, discussion questions, writing assignments, and games. Some are suitable for non-writers while others cover various levels up into high school. For instance, a kindergartner can color a picture while a fifth grader fills in blanks to create a Mad Lib, and a teen writes a 300-word paper. Don’t miss the fun-food recipe at the back of each workbook!
Advertising for this series says, “Our unique book series introduces important ideas that schools no longer teach” (website footer). Sadly, this is too true as most children are learning that socialism and reliance on government is the norm rather than personal responsibility and communities caring for one another. The Tuttle Twins series is a great resource for the entire family to learn and discuss these important topics.