I was given a complete set of Tuttle Twins books in exchange for my honest review. My husband and I read all twelve books in the original series.
The first thing that people will tell you or that interested parents will ask is if these books feature Libertarian principles. So let me get right to it: the answer is a resounding YES. However, as someone who is not a Libertarian, let me say that these books are not only for Libertarians. There are many great lessons in these books that appeal to conservatives, because each title is based on a classic work of politics or economics. The underlying messages in this series include the free market and personal responsibility, which are both conservative ideas.
For example, The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law is the first book in the series, and it is centered around The Law by Frédéric Bastiat. The principles in it are important to know and understand, and the Tuttle Twins book explains it well. Terms covered include conscience, law, plunder, right, and wisdom. Hidden cleverly within the story is an illustration of socialism, or how governments take from citizens and give to other citizens in the name of “charity.” The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law is a fun way to teach kids about property rights and personal freedom.
So let me share the book series with you. I’ll hopefully provide enough details for you to decide if these are a good fit for your family.
My Tuttle Twins Review
The Tuttle Twins series of books is a clever idea: reducing some complicated economic and political concepts to something that young readers understand and enjoy, using illustrated stories about kids. Honestly, I wish more important concepts were treated this way.
Each book features Ethan and Emily Tuttle, 9-year-old twins who learn important ideas with the help of classic works on politics and economics. The books are short, with roughly 50-60 pages each. At the end of each story is a one-or-two page feature on the author or concept presented in the book, a glossary of terms, and a few discussion questions. There is also a suggested link where parents may download an activity workbook PDF related to the books (for an additional fee).
The books are advertised for children ages 5-11, and this seems about right to me, though they could appeal to teenagers, as well. (There is also a series geared to ages 12+, which I have not read.)
The series by author Connor Boyack includes:
- The Tuttle Twins Learn about the Law (based on The Law by Frédéric Bastiat)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil (based on I, Pencil by Leonard Read)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island (with a nod to The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation (based on The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market (based on Human Action by Ludwig von Mises)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom (based on The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco (based on Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Leviathan Crisis (based on Crisis and Leviathan by Robert Higgs)
- The Tuttle twins and the Golden Rule (based on Ron Paul’s speeches and ideas of non-aggression)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future (based on Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard)
- The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas (based on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand)
- The Tuttle Twins and their Spectacular Show Business (based on Competition and Entrepreneurship by Dr. Israel M. Kirzner)
One of my favorites in this series was Education Vacation, based on John Taylor Gatto’s book The Underground History of American Education. The Tuttle family has the opportunity to visit Europe for a few weeks, so on the advice of Mr. Gatto, they begin homeschooling so that the entire family will be able to travel together and learn from real experiences. I’ve read the original by Gatto, and this simple explanation of it was fun.
A really cool aspect of each story is that the twins are given a copy of the origial classic work (like The Law, for example) and are encouraged to read it. They do, even though there are parts that might be hard to understand. At the end of the Tuttle Twins story, readers are encouraged to look more into the original work. We need more of this! Children are often treated as unable to understand concepts not on their “grade level,” when there are many ideas they are perfectly capable of learning. These books, I hope, will encourage kids to learn from classic writers and complicated ideas.
My thoughts on the Tuttle Twins Series
All of these books are quick reads and super simple to understand. And I as I said at the beginning, there is a need for more books that do what these do: make difficult concepts simple for kids to understand. They not only teach important concepts that adults encounter in daily life, but they model desirable family values with the Tuttles. The twins are friendly and respectful to each other and to their parents. I love it when I find the rare children’s book that accomplishes this. The Tuttle twins are good role models for the young reader.
I have read that the author of these books belongs to the Mormon church, and as a Protestant Christian, I was concerned about the content if this was true. Having read each title, I can still confidently recommend these books to Christian families, simply because they don’t really approach subjects of the Christian faith or doctrine. (If they did, I would not support a product that taught my children to believe things outside the Christian church. I am not here to start a new discussion on this, but I wanted to make that clear.) I’m pretty picky with our resources, and I am happy to give these books to my own children to read. As is my custom, though, I would discuss the story and the topics with them, as their mother and their teacher.
The Tuttle Twins books get to the heart of some fundamental principles of economics that are sorely missing in our educated populace today. Basic concepts of individual liberty, work ethic, civil liberties, and inflation seem to be non-existent in basic education, and it’s showing up in society.
Libertarianism vs. Conservatism
Like I mentioned earlier, some Libertarian ideas are evident in these books. And in some cases, I agree with them. The stories are based on classic works that every American can learn from, and the basic ideas are actually very conservative (for the most part). I consider myself a Constitutional Conservative, and value the work and writings of the American founders.
One of the main aspects of Libertarianism that are opposed to American conservatism is social issues: abortion, LGBTQ, marriage, and the death penalty. According to the Libertarian Party platform, government has no say in these matters. I disagree both biblically and constitutionally. Abortion is murder, and should be against the law. Marriage should never have been defined as anything besides between a man and a woman. Should the Supreme Court have taken that up? Probably not, but because they did, it’s easy to see the slippery slope from legal gay marriage to the plethora of accepted sexual perversions in our society today. These perversions have been laser-focused on the children of America in schools, entertainment, sports, toys, and even cereal boxes. It does harm people.
John Adams famously said that, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” He was not alone in this sentiment. Many of our founders repeatedly stated that it was necessary for our populace to live moral and religious lives, and that everything they did was based on that assumption. We have obviously fallen far from what they were, and what they envisioned for us. America has reached the point that the Constitution isn’t working well for the society we have, so more and more laws are required. It’s a necessary evil. And it’s not Libertarian.
This is just a very, very short explanation of my views. I only saw a few mild references to strict Libertarian ideas in the Tuttle Twins books, and when I share these with my children, I’ll point them out and tell them what I believe.
I hope this review has been beneficial to you. Be sure and check out my master Book Lists here.