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How to Behave and Why Hardcover – May 17, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's hard to be good. Especially if you don't really know what "being good" means. Munro Leaf, beloved author of The Story of Ferdinand, decided to try his hand at defining good behavior in his 1946 classic How to Behave and Why. The two biggest questions to ask ourselves in life, he says, are "Are most of the people I know glad that I am here?" and "Am I glad that I am here, myself?" If you want to make good friends and keep them, he says, "You have to be HONEST. You have to be FAIR. You have to be STRONG and You have to be WISE." This strangely charming life primer, illustrated with endearing stick figures, goes on to explain why you have to be honest--how handy it is to be trusted, for instance, when you need to borrow money. And if you lie too much, "We can't believe ourselves or anyone else, because we don't really know what the truth is any more than a penguin and that is a stupid way to live." Specific reasons for not being a "lazy lump" or a liar or a cheat are outlined matter-of-factly, as are basic lessons in how to be well and strong. Originally published for the very young (it has an early-reader format with big type and pictures), Leaf's how-to-be-good guidebook will probably be shared among adults as a back-to-basics inspirational book with the same crossover appeal as Sandol Stoddard Warburg's I Like You. A satisfying reflection of a time when what was right and wrong seemed more black and white. (All ages) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

How to Behave and Why (1946) by Ferdinand author Munro Leaf offers etiquette lessons from a simpler time that still apply today. He offers examples of the main points (You have to be honest You have to be fair You have to be strong and you have to be wise) throughout. The b&w (and red) illustrations have a nostalgic quality but do not feel dated.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Universe; Reprint. edition (May 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789306840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789306845
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is exactly what the title says, How to Behave and Why.
Good advice on character, which, after all, is more important than anything else. The section on Honesty is so true and so concise, no one can argue with it. Mr. Leaf lays out exactly what happens to those who are not honest, fair, strong or wise. No matter what your age, this book gives clarity on the most important aspects of life. I love it. I wish Mr. Leaf's other gem, Manners Can Be Fun, would come back into print asap.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The impact that HOW TO BEHAVE AND WHY had on me is on-going. From my earliest reading memory, My copy--lost along the way-- is a possession I have missed over and over again since it was first published in 1946. Many many regular book searches through the years repeatedly met with no success. So many times I literally pined for this little red book for my children-- especially, even their teen, college, and career years. It's universality is timeless. It's simple truths and stick figures bring impeccablke clarity to the paramount keys to living well in our civilized world. I am so elated to have "searched" this week and FOUND IT RE-PRINTED AT LAST!! Thank you, thank you, for bringing this title back to life. For starters, I just bought 5 copies. Now it's your turn. You will not be disappointed.
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By A Customer on January 9, 2002
Format: Library Binding
I was raised with this book as a young child's guide to good manners in any and all situations. It Works! 55 years later I wish I could give this book to my college students. Amazingly, considering its age, this book is still appropriate to the diverse, multicultural 21st Century.
If you have children, are a teacher, or just want to polish your own manners, take a look at a book that got it right in the 1950s. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent resource for teaching children how to treat others and reasonings why. The word usage of "stupid" and "dope" may bother some people, but the political correctness was not a consideration for this book written in the 1940's. I think it may be too complex for babies, but my kindergartener is very receptive to it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is simple and to the point. The artwork is stick figures so the kids seem to actually listen more than getting distracted by the pictures. I read it to my 7 & 8 yr. olds, and they enjoyed it, and it prompted some good discussions. We just read a chapter of a few pages each night and then talked about it. It's been a month or so since I've read it to them, so I think we'll read it again soon.
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Format: Hardcover
Retro look at behavior. Tells readers, "It doesn't matter [who you are]...You still have to get along well with other people and have most of them like you, if you want to be happy." (9) Gives advice on making friends. "[T]here are four main things that you have to do if you want to make good friends and keep them. You have to be HONEST [, FAIR, STRONG, and WISE] (12, 13). For honesty, telling the truth, not stealing, and not cheating are given as examples. Reminds me a little of the school movies on behavior from the 50's ("Real strength comes from having a clean, healthy mind and a clean, healthy body." (40), but still gives some good advice (saying please and excuse me or I beg your pardon (54)). Karen Woodworth Roman , editor [...]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be even more special than "Manners Can Be Fun". The author lays out four character traits (honesty, fairness, strength, and wisdom) with such simple passion, I get a lump in my throat every time I read it to my 4 year-old son. Not a book that deals with blowing one's nose or passing gas, this is still a terrific book that helps build a great human being.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall I like the sentiments offered in this book. But a) it was written a long time ago and you can tell. It just sounds old-fashioned and dated. b) The reading level is for younger kids, but it seems geared towards slightly older kids, and it's not quite right for my 8 or 5 year old. c) I didn't like the "always obey your parents and do what they say because they know better than you do" language/tone in the last section. Nor the times when he says things like "and doing that would just be stupid". We have enough of kids taunting each other with such language without a book on how to behave using it too.

On the positive side, the messages about honesty and fairness were good ones, and probably received better from a book than from a parent.
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