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Humanism, What's That?: A Book for Curious Kids Paperback – June 1, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. "But the Bible says that God created man in His own image!" "Humanists believe just the opposite: that man created God in his image." In a lively fictionalized discussion, a humanist teacher and a group of students talk about secular humanism. They confront the big issues, including evolution ("the best hope . . . is science," says the teacher), abortion, capital punishment, anti-Semitism, bullying, and much more--even the causes of 9/11. The kids' voices are insistent and informal, and the teacher calls for tolerance, for asking questions, for doing good right here on earth. The book, which is bound to cause controversy, is set up for adult-led discussion in school or at home, with activities, suggested discussion topics, and a brief bibliography for older teens and adults. But the readable dialogue will also reach individual children who have doubts and questions. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Covers a lot of ground in a manner and style that should help children understand humanism…Humanist and atheist parents would certainly benefit from having it because it presents basic humanist principles at a level younger children can comprehend - and it may even help them explain themselves to their friends."
- About.com
"This small volume holds out the hope and openness of Humanism in a form that can help young people confront Fundamentalist approaches to religion with confidence. And confront them they do, just as described in Mrs. Green's classroom and in schoolyards across this nation. Humanism, What's That? embodies the values which are central to my faith and is a wonderful addition to our ministry of liberal religious education."
Rev. William G. Sinkford
President, Unitarian Universalist Association
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 77 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591023874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591023876
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By G. R. S. Godwin on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this to my 11 year old. He loved it and uses it's concepts and ideas in his dealings with friends and teachers at school.

If you want to teach your kids HOW to think instead of WHAT to think, this book is a must.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By C. G. Carney on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fine book for teachers and or anyone who is not a theist trying to answer questions about "non-belief." The world has always had non believers. Unfortunately fear from any and all religious sects kept the secular/humanistic point of view hidden beneath the thundering voice of authoritarian religion. We need more people to speak out.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kaeli Vandertulip on May 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Religion in classrooms is a touchy subject. Many have accused "secular humanists" of taking over education and public policy. But what is humanism (secular or otherwise) and what does it mean for a person's soul and beliefs? This book examines this question. The format is a Q&A between a teacher and 6 of her students-they ask her questions about Humanism, God, the Bible, Heaven, and sin, and she tries to answer them without casting aspersion on their own beliefs.

This is an excellent resource for teachers with atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, or other Humanist children in their classrooms. It would make an excellent conversation starter in discussions about atheism and agnosticism or for RE classes in the UU church. It's also a useful guide for students from about 4th grade up. Topics include abortion, September 11, evolution, and capital punishment, so the student's ability to understand or ask about these topics should be considered as they read this book.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Dr. William R. Harwood on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Helen Bennett's book is written in the form of a dialogue between a teacher and her pupils on the subject of Humanism and its role in human relations. It has all the appearance of nonfiction, in the sense that it takes the form of questions asked by pupils and the teacher's answers. It is, however, too carefully designed to be an unedited transcript of a single discussion that occurred at a specific time and place, and is in all likelihood a synopsis of several discussions with different groups of pupils. The teacher's answers to the pupils' questions are at all times intended to teach tolerance as well as other Humanistic principles espoused by the more enlightened religions. But perhaps the most significant paragraph in the whole book is the description of what happened when the fictional teacher asked her pupils to have their parents sign a permission slip for them to attend a discussion group to talk about Humanism.

"The class took permission slips home and six children (out of thirty-two) were allowed to take Mrs. Green's after-school class on Humanism. When the discussion group met, here is my best recollection of what happened" (p. 13) The rest of the book is the dialogue from their discussions.

When twenty-six out of thirty-two pupils are refused permission by their parents to attend a discussion of what Humanism is all about, it is self-evident that trying to overcome religious bigotry by reasonable discussion has little chance of making a difference. Bennett presumably wrote her book in the hope of doing just that. She should not hold her breath.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terrific primer for this magnificent outlook on the world. If you hope the best for your child ... and if by 'best' you mean to make them a thinking contributing human INDIVIDUAL (not an automoton who simply mimics a design of your own making) I could not more highly recommend this fine book.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Benson VINE VOICE on November 26, 2008
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I was hoping to get a book to send to my nieces helping to explain why we do not celebrate their holidays, why we don't believe in faith.

Sadly, while the tone of this book is kid-friendly, the message seems to me to be more pro-humanism than to just an explanation of this ideology.

So, while I don't think I can give this book to my nieces without their parents thinking I'm trying to convert them to the "smart" and "thinking" way of being, it's a wonderful book for my kids.

Actually, if your child has been raised as a 'Humanist' this is kind of a nice lesson on what the "god-people" think. My kids only knew the basic principles of those with diety delusions, but this sure covers a lot of the finer belief tenets.

I gave this a 5 star rating for what it actually is, not for what I hoped it to be. It is well written, and easy to understand.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly S. Hall on November 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not hostile to other beliefs and a very good example of what humanism is. My children enjoyed reading this.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Betsy on June 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
An important question, and in general the answers are age appropriate and just thorough enough. Must take a very large issue though for the answer about "the Jews" having Jesus killed. The teacher answers that we must not hold present people responsible for the actions of their ancestors, reflecting the unfortunate posture of the gospels of Matthew and John (written at a time and by people who were strongly anti-Jewish) that "the Jews" turned Jesus over to the Roman authorities because they found him threatening. Historical scholarship leads us to believe that it was the Romans who pursued Jesus because they found him a political threat. Humanists should know better than to take the Bible literally!
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