Thursday, June 12, 2008

Books for Economics in the Upper Elementary and Middle School

I don't usually listen to recorded books, but my wife recently convinced me to try listening to one she found at our local library's "clearance sale." I'm glad I listened - both to my wife and the book.

A is for Aarrgh!, while written for middle-school students, was a funny and entertaining passage back to the time of our cave-dwelling ancestors. It focuses on one particular tribe and one specific young member of the tribe. He's not a very good hunter or gatherer. But he is good at making "mouth noises." And it is this peculiar gift that moves the story.

The young man in question, whose name will become Mog once he gets around to naming people, will be the inventor of language. Prior to his efforts, it seems communication is restricted to assorted grunts emphasized with clubs and rocks when appropriate. But it is not the invention of language that makes this a good and useful book. It's the economic lessons within...but you probably suspected that.

Among the economics concepts scattered throughout this story are "specialization," "exchange," "money,' "choice" (always), and even a little "role of government" and "income distribution."

Whether you and your students pick up the book or listen to an audio-tape, it will be an enjoyable way to develop some teachable moments in economics.

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