A kids' book wants to teach your children to love Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"

Oh boy.

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 29, 2017 12:04PM (EST)

 Ayn Rand (AP)
Ayn Rand (AP)

A new book promises to teach your children about the ideology best summed up by philosopher Ayn Rand in her classic tome, "The Virtue of Selfishness."

To be fair, this book, called "The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas," actually borrows themes from her infamous novel-slash-doorstop known "Atlas Shrugged." And the book, perfect for growing libertarians everywhere, the Tuttle Twins teach us that it's okay to be selfish, so long as you can depict everyone less fortunate than yourself as lazy and entitled.

The plot of this kids' book differs slightly from the adult version. Instead of promoting the joys of libertarianism through a capitalist nightmare centered around trains, it's promoting the joys of libertarianism through a capitalist nightmare centered around a circus.

Also, in this book, Atlas is no longer an allegory to a mythological figure; he's a talented circus performer who quits because he's angry that other circus performers want the same perks and benefits as he gets. Atlas feels they don't work hard enough to deserve them.

At one point in the book, Atlas skewers other performers, saying, "Those guys need to stop pretending to be victims — people who have been hurt by someone else. They are only hurt because of their own choices to be lazy and jealous of others."

On another occasion, Atlas gets mad because circus clowns  are enjoying massages and good food that he wanted all to himself. But the book doesn't get into the lives of the people giving out the massages and feeding everyone: They're obviously in demand enough that Atlas wants their services, so are they being paid as well as he is?

Perhaps the book will answer that question. Probably not, though.

"Ayn Rand's famous story features powerful ideas that younger children can also understand. Our edition focuses on the importance of hard work, the dangers of socialism, and economic ideas such as supply and demand, production and consumption, incentives, and more," Boyack, author of the Tuttle Twins book series, explained in a press release.

Although it has become a cult classic since its publication in 1957, the book was panned by many critics at the time, including the conservative writer Whittaker Chambers of "National Review."

"In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly," Chambers wrote. "This kind of simplifying pattern, of course, gives charm to most primitive story known as: 'The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.' In modern dress, it is a class war. Both sides to it are caricatures."

We can only hope that the book can also teach kids how to justify and celebrate the death of a train-full of working people.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand The Tuttle Twins