Tomorrow’s Economists Today

From a reader we’ll call E.K.:

I thought you might get a kick out of this photo of my kids, who are big fans of your work. The little one is 6, the older one (who already read Freakonomics) is 10. They had gotten up early Sunday morning and were hanging out reading while we (the parents) slept in.

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When pressed for more details, E.K. replied:

My husband is K.C. and the kids are Jacob (10) and Jared (6). We live in Connecticut, and K.C. commutes into New York City to work as a portfolio manager. I am a stay-at-home mom with a medical degree.

A few months ago, I thought Jacob would like reading Freakonomics, which he thoroughly enjoyed. After he finished that, I thought he might also like Malcolm Gladwell, so he is now in the midst of Blink.

Our copy of Freakonomics was lying around the house, so Jared started to get interested as well. To be honest, he hasn’t read all of it yet; I think right now he is most interested in the section of the book that lists the popularity of names and accompanying average education level of the mother.

Like many suburban kids, they are overscheduled. True to the stereotype of Korean-American mothers, I have my kids taking a number of instruments: Jacob plays cello and electric guitar, and Jared plays piano, guitar, and drums. They also enjoy dancing (breakdancing for Jacob and hip-hop for Jared). In addition, Jacob plays tennis and does tae kwon do. At home, they enjoy reading, playing on the computer, and chess. Jared is also a huge reality TV fan; he loves Top Chef, Project Runway, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance. Jacob particularly enjoys game shows. They both like to play cards; we recently taught them how to play poker and 21. Their betting strategies are wildly divergent but can be equally effective.

I have to share a funny story with you. When I told/asked Jacob about being included in your blog, at first he seemed pleased, but then a slight cloud passed over his face, and he said, “Well, I don’t want to be recognized …” Whereupon my husband reassured him that he would not be followed by paparazzi.

A while back, our publisher was interested in putting out a Freakonomics-for-kids version. Our main argument against it was that it was already easy enough for kids to read. This may be the best proof we’ve ever had of our argument — although, from E.K.’s note, I have a feeling her family may be a tad above-average.

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  1. sunshine says:

    Weird, a child asked not to have his photo put up on a highly-read Web page and both the parent and the editor refused to honor his request. Nonconsensual blogging. This concern may seem like a trivial joke, but look for this issue to increase in coming years.

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  2. MMN says:

    Right on Sunshine!

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  3. rw says:

    I’ve wondered why there hasn’t been a “Freakonomics for Kids” before, most kids aren’t like Jacob and Jared (in my experience at least, I’m 26 with no kids though).

    Part of the appeal of Freakonomics is the way it talked about slightly taboo things with a mainstream approach. It’ll be hard to have the same effect while ‘toning it down’* for a younger audience…

    *not to say I’d prefer a more censored approach, just that many parents wouldn’t be stoked on similar content for their kids, depending on age of course.

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  4. nancy says:

    just be careful,

    you know what could happen and has happened to other childhood stars, olympic heros when they get too good too early in their respective fields.

    proceed with caution: don’t push luck or talent too early or too often

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  5. Anne says:

    Please do publish a Freakonomics for kids. Financial literacy can’t be learned too soon, and it isn’t taught in school. It’s an essential tool for survival and you’re uniquely suited to meet the need.

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  6. Speedmaster says:

    I’d love to see them also reading some Hazlitt & Sowell. ;-)

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  7. kellycms says:

    I thought this to be very interesting. For when I was six or even ten I would not have imagined myself reading a book on economics. A parent’s job and interests really does influence how a child grows up.
    I am curious to see how they will grow up. For all we know, they could be the future economists that fix the current problems. Yet, they could take a completly different road. But I am sure economics will always remain a part of their interests.

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  8. GMT says:

    I’m interested in other books they might have read. Gladwell’s other book, “The Tipping Point,” is equally fascinating to me, but might not catch their interest. I would also suggest “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” by Thomas L. Friedman for Jacob.

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