The Tuttle Twins have made quite a wave since the first book in the series was released in 2014. The author Connor Boyack is the founder of the Libertas Institute, a free market think tank based in Utah, and a homeschool father who aims to introduce children to “the principles of a free society.” The series designed for 5-10 year olds covers topics such as free markets, competition, individual rights, the non-aggression principle, personal responsibility, protectionism, and a variety of other issues. These economic and government principles are not generally part of elementary education, and Boyack’s series thus fills a void in the children’s literature market.
Over 4 million copies have been sold, and the books in the series receive excellent 4.5- 5 star ratings on Amazon. Sounds like a fairly successful and innocent venture so far. So why is the media in such an uproar? When something is this controversial, it is worth taking a closer look…
Left-Wing Conniptions over “Right-Wing Propaganda”
On April 7th, 2022, CNN ran a story warning the public against the rise of “the right-wing children’s entertainment complex” (see full article here). They cited the Tuttle Twins as an example of right-wing propaganda, ridiculing its content, and mockingly rejecting any ideas of growing ‘woke-sim’ in the educational system. The article back-fired as it led to an additional 40’000 copies being sold; the Tuttle Twins indeed offered a special 50% discount coupon with the code CNN.
A couple years earlier, Current Affairs published a scathing review: The Tuttle Twins and the case of the really bad libertarian propaganda. After reading this, I expected to find offensive, white supremacist, abominable content in these books. After all. the author completed his loathing tirade with the following words, “I will conclude this review by saying the Tuttle Twins series is among the most wretchedly contrived, grotesquely unethically indoctrinating, cliché-ridden heaps of steaming garbage I’ve ever had the misfortune to read.” Not surprisingly, this article again worked its wonders in promoting the series to record sales.
So what makes the Tuttle Twins so controversial?
The media is clearly not a fan of libertarian ideas and in particular the strong voice of Connor Boyack, founder of Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. I find that taking a look at what someone is reading always gives you a pretty good idea of who they are; so here is Boyack’s reading list from his blog. I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions:
He has published a 12 book series for 5-10 year olds that are seen by homeschoolers as an ‘outstanding series that teaches important concepts about economics, government and personal responsibility through child friendly stories’ (Cathy Duffy reviews). They promote small government, homeschooling, individual freedom.
What makes the series unique is that each of the books is based on a classic essay or book which is challenging to understand for younger students, but whose key concepts are broken down into understandable terms and simple, engaging stories. For example, this morning my son read The Miraculous Pencil, which is based on the classic essay “I…Pencil” by Leonard Read. It expresses in a clear way, the importance of free market economics. Last night, my older son read The Leviathan Crisis which is based on economist Robert Higgs book Crisis and Leviathan which, “analyzes U.S. history to demonstrate how government has repeatedly grown during times of crisis.” But rather than having to read the dense original, the story distills the key concepts and integrates them into the adventure game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Cathy Duffy, an excellent homeschool curriculum reviewer, summarizes some of the other titles as follows:
The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil is the amazing story of the 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 the expansion of government control reduces individual freedom.
Do the Tuttle Twins hold any educational value?
The simple answer is yes, they do. They teach economic and government principles clearly and cover some very important concepts relating to freedom and coercion. These fundamentals have come to the forefront of our lives over the last two years and the Tuttle Twins certainly offer an excellent starting point for discussion of economics, government, and freedom.
If you bring with you a conservative or libertarian viewpoint, you will most likely love these books.
If you have a liberal background, the ideas might cause cringes and conniptions.
Personally, I would take a look at the original classic essay or book that a given Tuttle Twins book is based on, and decide whether it contains ideas and concepts I would like my child to learn about.
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