In doing our best to raise free children, it can be difficult to find entertainment that supports - or at least doesn’t undercut - that value. Sure, there are plenty of blog posts about being free to “follow your heart” and free to read “banned” books, but many of these lists celebrate indulging humanity’s worst impulses or argue for pornography in elementary school libraries.
For families whose idea of freedom is different, where do you look? If your idea of freedom includes freedom from grooming for sexual abuse, freedom to opt out of the state-sponsored religion, or freedom to create and enjoy your own wealth, or freedom to protect yourself, then what?
Chloe protecting her family - from The Shrunken Goblin
I couldn’t find a good list, so I asked around and put together this quasi-crowdsourced list. I’ve added - of course - a few Copper Jungle titles, specifically those I think are closest to the theme of freedom. This is a short list, so I am sure we are still missing lots of great work. What you add? Please drop me a line or leave a comment below!
YOUNGER KIDS (Toddlers/Preschoolers)
- Tuttle Toddlers - ABC and 123-style board books that will introduce your little ones to American history, economics, and libertarian vocabulary. Just know ahead of time how you’ll respond when they invoke “bodily autonomy” at bedtime!
- Robert Smalls - A Not-Too-Tall Tale - A simple, age-appropriate retelling of the story of Robert Smalls, who risked everything to escape slavery and went on to be a war hero and politician.
- Johnny the Walrus - A rollicking, rhyming board book that introduces children to the idea that some grown-ups may take their play too seriously, but ultimately ends on a note that encourages play and imagination.
- Otto’s Tales - A fun, illustrated series of history, culture, and classics for young readers from PragerU. In addition to books for sale, the site also has fun read-aloud videos that make a great alternative to YouTube.
- Wingfeather Saga - A fantasy series with a wide cast of lovable characters and creatures. Currently in production as an animated series too!
- Crazy Crocodile - Plover Problems - A jungle story about the dangers and types of propaganda that can easily be mapped to discussions with your kids about the messages they are receiving in school and other media.
- The Shrunken Goblin - A fairy tale allegorization of the quip that “a government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take it all away.” It is memorable, but may be scary for young elementary readers.
- Tuttle Twins - The older siblings/avatars of the Tuttle Toddlers mentioned above - these books use narrative to frame and explain key concepts from economics and politics.
OLDER KIDS (Middle/High School)
- Johnny Tremain - A classic coming-of-age novel set during the Revolutionary War.
- Coming Out of the Ice - The tale of a young man who moves with his family to the Soviet Union. He suffers under Communism before eventually making his way back to American and freedom.
- Red Scarf Girl - An emotional, autobiographical drama of a schoolgirl drafted into Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
- The Giver - A all-too-relevant novel about the risks of ceding personal autonomy to achieve perfect peace.
- 1984 and Brave New World - The two books were separate authors but form, in my mind, nearly perfect complements. Both imagine societies under total domination, but in 1984 the domination is coercion, in Brave New World, it is pleasure.
Note bene - I haven’t read all of the books on this list, but all of the recommendations come from a trusted source (more than one in most cases). Drop a comment below if you would suggest changing an age group, watching out for certain content, or making an addition.