February 25, 2011
Free Books to Teachers Program—We the Living—An Update
We would like to share with you the following message to donors from Yaron Brook.
Last November I reported to you that this school year we began efforts to offer free copies of We the Living to educators. It is the only one of Ayn Rand’s novels we’ve not offered before, and we knew that there would be educator interest in teaching the novel. The theme, we believed, would resonate with young readers and their teachers.
I am writing to update you on this new ARI program—and to ask for your help.
Demand for We the Living has been tremendous. As of this writing, in fact, we have requests for more than 15,000 copies of We the Living that we are currently unable to fulfill. The cost of fulfilling these requests is $90,000. In the words of a high school teacher in Newport, Pennsylvania: “I've been allowing them to share my own tattered copy of We the Living and can’t wait until I have a classroom set. The backorder wait will be well worth it.”
Your contribution to the Ayn Rand Institute will allow us to meet this extraordinary demand for We the Living and get the novels into classrooms without any further delay. It will also help spur participation in the institute’s new We the Living essay contest which is already underway.
As Michael S. Berliner writes in the new “Penguin Teacher’s Guide to We the Living” (a resource that is included with all classroom sets of the novel that we place in classrooms):
The theme of We the Living is the individual against the state, and more specifically, the evil of statism. . . . In showing the evil of collectivism, Ayn Rand refutes a claim often heard about communism and socialism: that it’s a noble idea that lacks practicality. . . . But, as Kira tells Andrei, and as Andrei comes to realize, it’s those “noble ideas” that led to the slaughter and enslavement of millions. It is that same “noble” ideal of self-sacrifice that justifies and leads to all forms of collectivism, including Soviet Communism or German Nazism.
The evil of statism and the evil of collectivism—these are ideas that young people today need desperately to understand. Indeed, one of the three topics available for students in the essay contest reflects this:
Although the USSR has collapsed, many people still argue what was argued throughout much of the 20th century: communism is a noble theory that men unfortunately fail to live up to in practice. By reference to the story and specific events of We the Living, explain why you think the novel’s author would accept or reject this argument.
With your support, students will be prepared to understand and address issues such as these—now and in the future.
Many thanks in advance for your support!
President and Executive Director
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