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Milton Friedman for kids? Absolutely! An economic adventure book series for kids (6-12) that enlightens, entertains, informs & inspires


One sunny September morning, many (many) years ago, I walked cautiously into a classroom and slid into an empty seat. I was a junior in high school and I had just signed up for an Econ 101 class. When I left the classroom that day, I was a completely different person. It took a few more classes for me to realize what had happened. And it was really quite simple. The blindfold had been removed and a whole new world opened up.

Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Walter Williams…I read anything and everything I could get my hands on from these and many other writers. And I found myself questioning, for the first time, what I had been spoon-fed during my years in school. I went back to my economics base often during my college years, as a counterweight to what was being advanced (no longer spoon-fed, now shoveled) within the college environment. It was my bulwark.

I started thinking about “crazy” ideas and values like personal responsibility, free enterprise, self-sufficiency, self-determination, individual rights, entrepreneurship, freedom and liberty…well, you get the idea.

As the mother of two young kids, I originally planned to recommend these (and other) great economists to my kids during their teenage years. And yes, that idea was probably doomed to failure. Not only because most teenage kids pretty much run away from anything parents would recommend. No, the reality is that by playing defense until their teenage years, we’re essentially relinquishing the field. We’re abdicating our responsibility to help shape our kids’ values by always staying two steps behind, as these values (and basic common sense) are drilled out of our kids.

It’s time to stop playing defense.

So where to begin?

A book. And more specifically: a book series. An economic adventure series that fosters the values we care so deeply about. Created specifically for our kids, at an age where they soak up everything around them. Incorporating mystery and adventure to engage our young readers, and using examples from our kids’ day-to-day lives – in school, with friends, and in familiar situations – so that they can be armed with logic and a healthy dose of critical thinking skills.

We’re planning for the first six books in the book series to include: 

  • Under the Staircase: Meeting Milton (Milton Friedman) 
  • Under the Staircase: Hello Hayek! (Friedrich Hayek)  
  • Under the Staircase: Talking to Thomas (Thomas Sowell) 
  • Under the Staircase: Waiting for Walter (Walter Williams) 
  • Under the Staircase: Asking Adam (Adam Smith) 
  • Under the Staircase: Adventures with Ayn (Ayn Rand) 
The first book in the series - Meeting Milton – will be sent in time for some fun summer reading (delivery in June 2013). At least two new books will be published each year. 

Your Kickstarter support will cover the costs involved in launching the book series and bringing these books to life. More detailed descriptions of each support level can be found on the right-hand side of this page. 

Who should we include in future books? Ludwig von Mises, Jude Wanniski, Henry Hazlitt, Frédéric Bastiat, the great folks at the George Mason University Econ Department?  Is there someone else on your wish list?  Please send us your recommendations!

For all the parents (and grandparents) out there who are searching for the right words, or the right time, or the best delivery (because we know our kids will run away if they think a speech is heading their way)…I hope you’ll consider supporting the upcoming Under the Staircase economic adventure book series. 

Thank you! 

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Any risks? Well, we'll be tracking three main things - people, time, and money. In other words, we'll be choosing the right folks to take on the artwork, website, public relations, legal mumbo jumbo, production, and launch activities. We'll manage the schedule (i.e. crack the whip as needed) to make sure the books are delivered on time. And we'll manage the budget (yes, we are quite thrifty) to wring the best value for every last dollar, because we do indeed practice what we preach.

Any questions? Please feel free to contact us anytime - info@thestaircasebooks.com.

FAQ

  • Absolutely! Just combine the dollar amount for all the tiers of rewards you are interested in, pledge at least that amount, pick the highest reward level you are interested in, and then send us a message letting us know which rewards you would like.

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  • No problem! After the project has been funded, we will send out a Kickstarter backer survey to gather mailing preferences and any special requests.

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  • Yes! You will be able to buy the books on Amazon. To hear about upcoming books and events, check out http://www.thestaircasebooks.com (the website is still very much “under construction”) and sign-up for the Under the Staircase newsletter. The newsletter will also include bonus materials for kids and opportunities to get involved with future books.

    NOTE: If, however, you're interested in great rewards like the "I'm an Under the Staircase School & Library Sponsor" mug or the surprise gift (to THANK YOU for being, frankly, absolutely dreamy) in the "Mega Package", this is the time to pledge!

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  • In the first book of the Under the Staircase series, readers meet twelve-year-old Maya, a 7th grader at Liberty Middle School.

    They join Maya and her friends as they battle the dreaded Karla, who is by far the bossiest person in their whole school. Maybe even the whole town.

    How bossy?

    Well, it begins with Karla’s campaign for “fair” grades. She says it isn’t fair that some students earn higher grades while others earn lower grades. She comes up with a plan for grade redistribution, so that points from “A” students are transferred to “D” students.

    When we point out that kids with high grades had worked really hard – studying, doing extra credit, tutoring other kids – and the kids with low grades were goofing off in class and never seemed to remember to actually do their homework, Karla told us we were being selfish and greedy.

    So the grading system is changed. And things quickly begin to fall apart.

    The kids with the low grades decide it would be really silly to actually do any work since they will be getting points anyway. The kids with the high grades realize it doesn’t make sense to work so hard if their points are going to be given away. They still want to learn, but they decide that they can learn best outside of class. Within a week, kids no longer listen in class, do homework, or even try to work hard. Even Karla doesn’t do any school work – she says she’s too busy working on her next campaign.

    We were all very nervous about what she would come up with next.

    A few days later, Karla came to PE with a huge binder filled with paper.

    It was the size of all of the Little House on the Prairie books combined!

    Karla announces that obviously the soccer rules aren’t working. We need more rules so that players won’t break the old rules. She convinces our gym teacher, Ms. Franklin, that the new rules are the only way to keep us safe. Ms. Franklin lets Karla referee the games.

    It’s an absolute disaster.

    Players don’t have time to read the rules before each game, and each day Karla brings even more huge binders filled with even more new rules. Kids keep getting pulled from the game for breaking crazy rules, and Karla (as referee) decides that obviously she’s the only person who can actually play.

    What happens when the referee becomes a player? What happens when out of control rules (and regulations) paralyze players and create chaos in the game? Readers find out.

    Readers also discover that Maya loves the library. A lot. And it’s a good thing, since Ms. Rose (her favorite teacher) assigns yet another book report. This time the class is reading “Free to Choose” by Milton and Rose Friedman. Ms. Rose announces a special surprise – each student will be paired up to debate the book. Ms. Rose posts the debate partner names on the board at the end of class. Maya can’t believe it – she’s chosen to debate Karla!

    After school, Maya meets up with her eight-year-old brother Nate and they bike over to the library, where Maya is determined to find something – anything – for her debate with Karla.

    But she can’t seem to find the book. And what’s going on over there, under the staircase?

    The first book introduces a variety of Friedman’s concepts (the Power of the Market, the Tyranny of Controls, What’s Wrong with Our Schools? and other topics) using examples from our kids’ day-to-day lives – in school, with friends, and in familiar situations. Free trade and lemonade stands…price controls and the cafeteria…school choice and supermarket choice…and much more. Plus, it’s filled with mystery and intrigue to engage our young readers (ages 6-12).

    The second book will star eight-year-old Nate and will feature “The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich Hayek. Using examples our kids see each and every day, Hayek’s teachings are brought to life. Mystery and adventure are woven throughout the series, making economics fun and accessible to youngsters.

    Additional books include the teachings of Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Ayn Rand, and Adam Smith – again, using examples that kids are very familiar with. Each book fosters personal responsibility, free enterprise, self-sufficiency, individual rights, entrepreneurship, freedom and liberty…well, you get the idea.

    For all the parents (and grandparents) out there who are searching for the right words, or the right time, or the best delivery (because we know our kids will run away if they think a speech is heading their way)…I hope you’ll consider supporting the upcoming Under the Staircase economic adventure book series.

    Thank you!

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Don’t miss the Kickstarter campaign – amazing rewards (including becoming a school or library sponsor) end March 1st! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/855544254/under-the-staircase-an-economic-adventure-series-f

    Sign up for the Under the Staircase Newsletter to get news about upcoming books and events, plus bonus materials for kids and opportunities to get involved with future books: http://www.thestaircasebooks.com/

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    THE E-BOOK: An e-book copy of the first book - "Under the Staircase: Meeting Milton" (Milton Friedman) - in MOBI (Kindle) and ePUB (Apple, Adobe Digital Editions, Nook, Google Editions, Diesel, Kobo, etc.) formats. Read it anytime, anywhere!

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    THE PAPERBACK + THE E-BOOK: Both the paperback and the e-book version of the first book - "Under the Staircase: Meeting Milton" (Milton Friedman) - just in time for some fun (and enlightening) summer reading. Plus, it'll help the kids get ready for the next school year!

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    THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE SERIES: All of the above, plus an advance copy of the second book in the series - "Under the Staircase: Hello Hayek!" (Friedrich Hayek) - scheduled for some fun holiday reading in November 2013. This option includes two e-books and two paperback books - something for everyone!

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    THE FIRST SIX BOOKS IN THE SERIES: An amazing deal! Receive the first six books in the series before they're available to the rest of the public. The first six Under the Staircase books include: 1) "Meeting Milton" (Milton Friedman); 2) "Hello Hayek!" (Friedrich Hayek); 3) "Talking to Thomas" (Thomas Sowell); 4) "Waiting for Walter" (Walter Williams); 5) "Asking Adam" (Adam Smith); and 6) "Adventures with Ayn" (Ayn Rand). Estimated delivery: June 2013 for the first book, November 2013 for the second book, and at least two books published each year thereafter (summer and holiday release). You will receive both an e-book and paperback version of each book with this option (a total of 12 books)!

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    SCHOOL OR LIBRARY SPONSOR: The school or library of your choice will receive a six-volume paperback set of the first six Under the Staircase books, as soon as they become available. Plus, we'll send you a special "I'm an Under the Staircase School & Library Sponsor" mug as a THANK YOU for helping kids who may not otherwise have access to these types of books.

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    SIX BOOKS + CHOOSING THE NEXT GREAT ECONOMIST: Everything from the $100 pledge level, plus you get to decide which next great economist will be featured in the Under the Staircase book series! As a bonus - you and your family will be listed on the dedication page as a special thank you for bringing that economist to our attention. Have a favorite? Please let us know!

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    THE SIX + SIX + ECONOMIST MEGA PACKAGE: Otherwise known as the "whole enchilada" or the "holy cow, thank you so much!" level. That's right - you get the first six books in the series, you become a school or library sponsor, and you get to choose the next great economist to be featured in the Under the Staircase book series. PLUS, you'll receive a surprise gift to THANK YOU for being, frankly, absolutely dreamy. We can't thank you enough!

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