Political theory for kids
November 8, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Political philosophy for young readers - can you recommend books?

We tried to explain Marxism to our young son the other night (was related to discussing OWS and the like), and while we did an okay job, he wants to know more. He loves to read, so books are probably the right place. To give an idea of what kind of books he 'learns from': Horrible Histories series, How to Make a Universe from 92 Elements and The Magic of Reality: How we know what's really true. Looking for book/series of books that explain various theories of political organisation, not necessarily just Marxism
posted by Megami to Education (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You'd be surprised how good and thorough the __ for Beginners series is: Here's Marx for Beginners.
posted by General Malaise at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is he old enough for Sophie's World? Because that's a good introduction to many philosophers, including the political ones.

I did watch Animal Farm at a relatively young age, and still remember my early Soviet history based on it. It's certainly a good place to start the conversation - the complaints of the animals are not dissimilar from those of wage labourers.
posted by jb at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Action Philosophers #4: The World Domination Handbook!
posted by strixus at 12:36 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

How old is he?
posted by John Cohen at 12:38 PM on November 8, 2011

Off the top of my head, and depending on age of course:
The Prince
1984/Animal Farm
The Trial (really anything by Kafka)

I have a list at home of political philosophy books, let me see if I can dig it up.
posted by handbanana at 1:14 PM on November 8, 2011

John Cohen he is seven BUT his reading ranges from Harry Potter to technical manuals. He will quite happily have a discussion about philosophy and religion (he was comparing Buddhism and Stoicism the other day) which I am not sure is 'normal' seven year old behaviour, hence the examples of other books.

Jb - I hadn't thought about Sophie's World. I think he would love that!
General Malaise, I was thinking about the Beginners series, and there are bonus points in this house for being kind of bande dessinée style, so that's also a plus in our household.
posted by Megami at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2011

The Once and Future King - T.H. White

Particularly the first section, The Sword in the Stone. The part where Arthur becomes an ant is a commentary on Marxism and Communism. The book(s) in its entirety is a fine story and touches upon (and critiques) several political philosophies. The chapters following may not be suitable for a seven year old.
posted by elendil71 at 1:41 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first titles that popped into my mind were ones from the "Uncle Eric" series on economics and government. I read them as an adult and learned a lot, but they are written targetting "children anywhere from about sixth grade level through high school."

posted by markhu at 1:52 PM on November 8, 2011

I read The Once & Future King at age seven or eight, and I'd say it might be a better fit than Sophie's World (which I read & enjoyed at 13, but the end chapter has some sexual themes that might be confusing, if nothing else).
posted by deludingmyself at 2:49 PM on November 8, 2011

Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" might be a good one. "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" would be better, but is a little more mature. I have no idea what you're comfortable handing to a seven-year-old. Also, nthing Sophie's World.

Also, please don't let him read Ayn Rand. It took me a long time to learn the difference between good libertarian fiction and bad libertarian fiction.
posted by Lifeson at 3:01 PM on November 8, 2011

Some of the books in the Very Short Introduction series might be good for this, although you'd have to see how they for his reading level. They're relatively low-priced (Amazon has most of them for under $10) and usually 100-150pp. Here's Marxism and there are links to many of the others from that page.

And on the fiction side of things, Momo by Michael Ende, if you can find it in English translation (or if your son reads German). One of my friends describes it as the book that made her an anti-capitalist, although she didn't know that that's what it was called when she read it.
posted by naturalog at 5:22 PM on November 8, 2011

Thanks everyone for the great recommendations. Last night I starting reading 'Sophie's World' for the first time in about 20 years (I thought I best check it again) and it is the sort of thing my son loves and is already covering some questions he has asked - though thanks deludingmyself for the heads-up on the end chapter, I hadn't remembered that, will make sure to check it before putting a copy on my son's kindle!

Lifeson, I haven't read Ayn Rand yet so pretty sure the seven year old won't be!

Naturalog, I have found an English translation of Momo, so will be getting that (my son loved 'Neverending Story' which is another Ende book). Also, I can get the short introduction books on Kindle, which is a help. Interesting to see Singer wrote the Marx one. I might not give them to my son to read but might help me get a better understanding of things at a level to explain to him.
posted by Megami at 12:20 AM on November 9, 2011

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