I was thrilled to have a chance to catch up with Brittany and Brianna Winner, now 15, to hear about their Strand book series, their school appearances, and their dream of making their story into a movie. One of the highlights of Comic-Con for them was meeting Christopher Paolini, author of the best-selling Eragon series.
The greatest investor in history is Warren Buffett, the only man ever to become a billionaire only through investing. He is giving the vast majority of his fortune to charity through the Gates Foundation.
Mr. Buffett’s investment advice has produced best-sellers (written by other people). His aphorisms are reverently repeated — and, if they had been followed, would have prevented the financial meltdown that still has our economy reeling.
Now Mr. Buffett has decided that the next generation needs to do better than the current one in understanding finance and economics. And so, he has created a terrific website for kids that explains the basic concepts of business and investing and lets them join his Secret Millionaire’s Club. Participants get $2000 in “Buffett Bucks” to invest. The investments are pretend, but the companies are real, including many companies kids know and will enjoy learning about like Google and Build-a-Bear. Kids can evaluate investment strategies and see how they do. And there are stories, games, and videos to explain business principles like location and advertising and even a chance to send Mr. Buffett a question of your own. The animated Buffett, like the real one, reminds kids to tell the truth and work hard and that “the more you learn, the more you’ll earn.”
I highly recommend this to all kids — and if their parents want to sign up for a few lessons, I can promise it will be well worth it.
NOTE: I also recommend the sensational audio magazine Boomerang, which has the best explanations of economic principles I have ever heard along with features about books, history, travel, jokes, and best of all the childhood memories of founder Dave Schmave.
Disney’s online role-playing game Pixie Hollow is based on its DVD series about Tinker Bell and her friends. It gives children a chance to select a (female) fairy avatar and interact with other fairies. Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams reports that Pixie Hollow has its first boy avatar, called a “sparrow man.”
But children are pretty resourceful little gender warriors. The open secret around the Hollow has long been that if you make your fairy tall, with short hair, and give her an ambiguous name like Jamie, she can pretty quickly establish a reputation as a he.
It may be that little boys want to play. Or, it may be that little girls want to have boy characters to dress up and interact with. It may be that today’s children are comfortable exploring the meaning of gender boundaries.
The fact that when young visitors create characters now they’re presented with both a female and a male avatar and prompted to “please pick one” is a big deal for a generation that’s going to grow up spending a portion of its life online. It says that there are choices.