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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a one-time read!
It's not an easy task to raise compassionate, non-materialistic, and socially conscious children in today's prevailing culture. Above All, Be Kind is a guidebook for parents trying to do just that.
Author Zoe Weil is the co-founder of the International Institute for Humane Education, an organization that teaches young people about more humane ways of living and about...
Published on March 25, 2004 by Melanie

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obvious and contrived
I loved the title of this book and I was greatly looking forward to reading it based on the reviews. I am an elementary school teacher and I have three children. I constantly read books on parenting and teaching. My family is vegetarian, we do not watch TV, we don't say we "hate" people, we don't allow toy weapons....I don't think in 2011 my family is so unusual. I...
Published on July 24, 2011 by E. Axelina


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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a one-time read!, March 25, 2004
By 
Melanie "mongoliamel" (Cass Lake, MN, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
It's not an easy task to raise compassionate, non-materialistic, and socially conscious children in today's prevailing culture. Above All, Be Kind is a guidebook for parents trying to do just that.
Author Zoe Weil is the co-founder of the International Institute for Humane Education, an organization that teaches young people about more humane ways of living and about how our daily choices impact the world for ill or good. She says living in humane ways is all about living up to the highest human qualities.
Weil gives examples of situations parents will likely encounter with their children ("What do you do when your son asks for a toy gun?" "What do you do when you find pornography in your teen's room?") and how parents can handle those situations with wisdom.
In segments called "Did you know?" she reveals disturbing facts about hot button social issues such as factory farming, sweatshop clothing, and child-targeted advertising. Besides documenting the facts about those issues, Weil takes the process a step further with pages called "Let Kindness Grow," which offer suggestions about what we can do to make more humane choices in relation to each issue.
The most important message in the book is to parents themselves. It is the mantra "My life is my message," which Weil says she has used many times to check her own behavior. The Ghandian quote reminds parents that we cannot expect our children to walk any path that we ourselves are not willing or able to walk.
To that end, Weil lays out a four-step plan she calls the "Four Elements" that can help readers come to a right action for themselves or help their children make about any choice. Essentially, the Four Elements are: Gathering information, using critical thinking skills, turning that knowledge into respect for all, and making a responsible choice.
One of the last parts of the book is dedicated to personal introspection. Weil created a "My life is my message" questionnaire that readers are to work through to critically look at where we can improve our own life messages. The 13-page exercise is a humbling and valuable experience.
Weil provides an appendix bursting with solid statistics, valuable reference books, and tons of resources to help parents locate more information, better products (such as a list of companies that do not use animals to test products) and websites that can help us make more humane choices for ourselves, our children, and the world. As a result, this book is not a one-time read but rather a resource to be picked up time and again. --Dana Anderson-Villamagna
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Provoking Call to Act Humanely, July 9, 2006
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This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
This is actually my second time reading this book. The first time through, I was primarily looking for ideas to make my household a bit more peaceful, and while I found the book interesting, it didn't address my specific concerns about sibling rivalry and bickering.

Fast forward a couple of years, and this book is EXACTLY what I need. The idea of trying to live humanely and kindly, each and every day, and to extend the concept beyond one's nuclear family to the world at large (and to all living things for that matter), really resonates right now. Zoe Weil talks about the importance of our actions. Having a sense of compassion combined with a sense that our actions DON'T matter can lead to dispair. Having a sense of materialism combined with a sense that our actions don't matter can lead to exploitation of people and resources.

Anyway, the book does discuss how to empower children to consciously choose humane, compassionate choices. Zoe's approach is highly facilitative rather than dictatorial. She says it is important to:

1. provide information

2. teach critical thinking

3. instill reverence, respect, and responsibility

4. offer positive choices

And there are many examples of how to put this in practice, particularly for children in the middle and teen years.

One of my favorite chapters is chapter 3, "Your Life is Your Message". Zoe says, "I'm very aware of the fact that each of us will be faced with emotions and circumstances that compete with our desire to make the most humane choices." She talks about how difficult it is to be a good role model for our children ALL the time. We will fail - we're human! But she writes, "the task before each of us is to choose compassion in the face of apathy that deadens our spirit, restraint in the face of desires that can harm, and courage in the face of fears that hold us back - and to do so in practical, concrete ways that translate our ethics into action. We will not always make the kindest choice, but by staying aware and remaining committed to making our life the kind of message we want it to be, we'll be able to make kinder choices more and more often."

THIS is something that I can do. The fact I will fail sometimes doesn't absolve me of my responsibility to do what I can.

Chapter 3 is also where Zoe exhorts us to expand humane values to include everyone, and these are some choices she says have an impact on ourselves as well as others outside of our family - what we wear, what we eat, what entertainment we choose, what we drive, as well as choices about our homes, furniture, toys, personal care and cleaning products, among others. I'd been guilty of thinking, "Such and Such Superstore will still exist whether I shop there or not, so I might as well get xyz there because they have the best price." After reading this book, that is not a thought I am going to have again.

Zoe also includes a questionnaire to help people get started on their journey to live more consciously and humanely, as well as several interesting resource lists.

I highly recommend this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that tells you that parenting is about YOU, June 18, 2004
By 
Kindle Customer (Pitt Meadows, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
Many school teachers will tell you that parents will complain to them that their children don't read at home. The teacher then always asks, 'well, how much do you read?' And the answer usually comes back, 'I don't. What does that have to do with it?' Our children do follow our models, whether we think they do or not. And to really provide a good role model requires hard, hard work, and thinking about it, every day, every second. Instead, we all have a tendency to mouth platitudes and give lectures.
A great read, worth it for any parent, and really, anyone else. This goes way beyond education and raising kids.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes a difference, January 4, 2004
By 
Carolin B. (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
"Above All Be Kind" is a wonderful book for anybody who cares deeply about the future of our children. Being a teacher myself I would like to recommend this book as a must read for teachers and parents alike. The book reminds us what is really important in life. It invites us to raise our children to become compassionate and caring people who understand and welcome their responsibility for our Earth and all living beings.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broader View of Parenting, November 5, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
Above All Be Kind caught me off guard with its parenting advice. I have read lots of parenting books and was expecting the usual info about being kind, as in, be nice to your kids. Instead, this book inspired me to see myself and my kids as citizens of the planet; making decisions based on what the world needs not just what we personally need -- a whole new way of thinking about what we as a family eat, buy, wear. I've never written a review before, but I was blown away by the message of this book: we can help shape a peaceful world by mindfully tending to the decisions we make in our daily job as parents. Bravo!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Gift to the Future, December 22, 2003
By 
cgins (Arlington, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
Above All, Be Kind helps parents raise and enjoy more thoughtful, caring, grounded children who can go beyond the latest fad to value what's really important in life. This book is a great gift - for yourself, for your children, for friends and family, and for the future of all species and the Earth.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put the book down!, December 23, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
This book was incredibly thought-provoking and practical. Weil has an extremely positive energy that eminates through the pages of this book.
Whether you possess little to great concern about the upbringing of your children, this book has something for everyone!
I wanted the book to be longer because I enjoyed it so much. When is the sequel coming out?!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obvious and contrived, July 24, 2011
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This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
I loved the title of this book and I was greatly looking forward to reading it based on the reviews. I am an elementary school teacher and I have three children. I constantly read books on parenting and teaching. My family is vegetarian, we do not watch TV, we don't say we "hate" people, we don't allow toy weapons....I don't think in 2011 my family is so unusual. I completely agree with the ideas behind this book. Unfortunately, the tone of the book felt self-congratulatory and every example in the book ended with a rosie, unrealistic finale. I also felt like the book was describing very obvious solutions. I think that modern day, educated parents are not raising children in the way the book describes. Of course we are kind, of course we don't allow small children to watch violent things on TV, of course we respect the earth....I just found the tone patronizing and i guess not very helpful.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have!, November 30, 2003
By 
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
"Dad, can I have a toy gun." "Mom, what is pornography?" These are questions that every parent and educator dreads. Weil's fantastic new book, Above All, Be Kind, transforms these into teachable moments. This is a must-have for any parent, educator, or even babysitter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every parent should read this book, March 15, 2009
This review is from: Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (Paperback)
This is a good book that offers a lot of solid information about raising an ethical and humane child. I highly recommend it to all parents who want to raise such children and really make a difference.
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Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times
Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil (Paperback - October 1, 2003)
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