Does Charlie not sufficiently appreciate the economic contributions of the Chocolate Factory?
Is Harry Potter not entrepreneurial enough?
Is there too much sharing in The Giving Tree?
If you feel fiction for middle schoolers is altogether lacking in its celebration of free-market principles, there’s a solution: a kid’s version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s monumental novel of Objectivist philosophy.
In The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas, a frustrated strong man leaves a circus beset by socialism, and the plucky Tuttle twins learn important lessons about production and consumption. The antagonist is a lazy clown named Kroogie, named for liberal economist Paul Krugman.
If it sounds a bit heavy handed, its publisher, the Utah-based Libertas Institute think tank, makes no apologies about its intent to produce ideologically suitable content for kids. “Each year, hundreds of millions of children are spoon-fed false history, bad economics, and logical fallacies. Your child is not immune,” according to the book’s website.
The Search for Atlas was written by Connor Boyack, Libertas’s founder, and a home-schooling father of two, who says on the site he was frustrated by his inability to find material “that teaches young children about the principles of freedom. There was nothing!” (Boyack is fan of italics). Boyack has written six other similarly themed Tuttle Twin books, including The Road to Surfdom, a surfing-inspired riff on The Road to Serfdom, by Austrian economist F.A. Hayek.
Atlas Shrugged, which describes a dystopian future where freedom is stifled by government regulation, was widely panned when it was first published in 1957 but has since become a foundational text for US conservatives. Through a charity, former BB&T Bank banking CEO John Allison donated millions of dollars to universities for the study of Rand and her works. House speaker Paul Ryan says Atlas Shrugged is what led him to study economics and pursue a career in public service. “I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well … I try to make my interns read it,” Ryan told the Weekly Standard in 2003.
At over 1,000 pages—longer than War and Peace—it’s not surprising that interns struggle to slog through Atlas Shrugged. This Christmas, Ryan may want to consider giving out a shorter version. Quartz knows just the thing.