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The Book of Virtues Paperback – September 5, 1996

165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Believing with Plato that "tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thought," former Secretary of Education Bennett ( The De-Valuing of America , LJ 4/1/92) has produced a McGuffey's Reader for the Nineties. The author draws upon a variety of literature ranging from biblical stories to political legends and speeches to illustrate the catalog of virtues--self-discipline, compassion, work, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, faith--that he believes are foundational to strong moral character. Most selections are introduced by a short thematic note, e.g., "an honest heart will always find friends." Bennett's elevation of these virtues to moral absolutes renders the book's view of morality rather simplistic. In addition, the collection's lack of attention to women's and non-Western voices encourages the view that the experience of virtue belongs primarily to Western males. Still, this anthology will prove popular with some readers. Recommended for public libraries.
- Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The principled former secretary of education has culled a selection of poems and stories to be read aloud in hopes of passing on specific virtues to the younger generation. The selected works appear under chapter titles such as "Compassion"; "Responsibility"; "Friendship"; "Courage"; "Perseverance"; and "Faith." As artificial or perhaps self-righteous as this project may seem, it is effective. The old stories from the Bible, from great authors, and from folklore do exert a charm and send a message that will stir families to discuss or contemplate the issues set forth. It truly is a treasury, with some tales so brief they can be read at the dinner table. Perfect bedtime, anytime family reading. Denise Perry Donavin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (September 5, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684835770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684835778
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

William J. Bennett served as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H. W. Bush and as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Williams College, a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard. He is the author of such bestselling books as The Educated Child, The Death of Outrage, The Book of Virtues, and the two-volume series America: The Last Best Hope. Dr. Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show Bill Bennett's Morning in America. He is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute and a regular contributor to CNN. He, his wife, Elayne, and their two sons, John and Joseph, live in Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 163 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I bought the hardcover edition of Bennett's "Book of Virtues" after sorting through the many editions available. If it helps you choose, here's the deal. This 1993 reprint of the original edition is the full book, 800+ pages. It is intended for an adult audience, but in reality can be read with your children. There is a paperback version, but this book is pretty thick, and I imagine it would be difficult to read from that edition.

The Children's Book of Virtues is only 112 pages and intended for children ages 4-8. The stories are chosen for their appropriateness for this audience (many reviewers mention their dislike of some of the stories in the adult version) and include many familiar childhood stories, like George Washington and the Cherry Tree and The Tortoise and the Hare.

The Book of Virtues for Young People: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories is intended for an older audience of children 9-12 and is 384 pages long. It contains familiar childhood stories such as The Fox and The Crow, but also selections by beloved writers such as Walt Whitman, Tolstoy and Emily Dickinson. The Book of Virtues for Boys and Girls: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories is also intended for children ages 9-12, but it is an abbreviated version of only 208 pages.

I thought I was going to buy the one for Boys and Girls, because the cover shows children playing baseball and the introduction is by Doug Flutie and would appeal to my sports-mad son.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After a long week of bike riding practice without the training wheels which culminated in a solo trip down the street, my 6 year old daughter made a proud, smiling request on the way up to bed. "Can we read 'Try try again' in the big green book?" She asked. The big green book is of course the Book of Virtues, and "Try try again" is one of the many poems and short stories that we read from it before bed each night. This book is full of life stories that kids can remember and apply as they grow. On several other occasions those stories have come into conversation as a reference point with my kids when facing life's experiences. Highly recommended.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful By M. Murphy on July 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
10 years ago, when I was 18, my father gave me this book as a gift the day my parents took me to college. Although I thought it was "uncool", I also understood the meaning behind the gift. He felt that this book could act as a moral guide when my parents could no longer be with me on a daily basis to be that moral compass. And through the years, it has served as a source of inspiration, strength and comfort. As an adult, I am more partial to the poetry and historical writings rather than the stories. But as an expectant first time mother, I am looking forward to sharing the children's stories with my son when he's born, and throughout his life. I think this book should be incorporated into children's lives from an early age, along with other children's stories. This is a book children can grow with and enjoy even as adults...the writings take on new meaning as we age. I highly recommend this book, despite Bill Bennett's personal mistakes. There is too much value in this compilation of writings to deny our children the benefit to spite Mr. Bennett.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Sleepy in Seattle on October 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a special education teacher, I work with students who have issues with social skills (getting along with each other, etc.) as well as below-grade-level reading skills. I plan on purchasing copies of the book and using selected stories as part of my reading program.

I had to make a decision: I could have my kids read stories such as "The Lost and Found" where three kids fall inside the Lost and Found Box and explore a hidden world, learning nothing that can be applied to their personal lives. Or, I could have them read stories dealing with issues of character.

I chose the latter. To test my theory, I found a version of "Stone Soup" on the Web and created a weeklong unit around the story with vocabulary, writing, and comprehension lessons. They loved it!

This tells me that they will enjoy this book. Are some of the stories simplistic? Perhaps. Are they edited? Other people seem to think so. All I know is that my special-needs kids need the "Basics" and "black-and-white" moral issues are exactly what is required.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth McGuire on December 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've had this book for over 5 years and wanted to let people know that it's still the one and only book that I turn to when I need a source of pure inspiration. I have read stories to many of my guests and both parents and children have found this book enjoyable.

The book contains hundreds of short stories that send moral messages associated with the virtues of Self-discipline, Compassion, Responsibility, Friendship, Work, Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, Loyalty, and Faith. You'll find a mix of fairy tales, Aesop's fables, Biblical stories, Aristotle, Plato. One of my very favorites is "Yudisthira at Heaven's Gate" - a story from the Mahabharata.

I was hospitalized 4 times this year due to a recurring health issue (I'm 39 yrs old) and this book didn't fail me as each time I went in, I had the pleasure of reading stories each night that filled my heart and mind with good moral reminders. I purchased it today for my cousin who is a 6th grade teacher and became attached to the book when he visited us one weekend. I plan to continue purchasing this book when I need to get a "family" gift as it truly is something that the whole family will enjoy. I have also ordered the "Children's Book of Virtues" and the "Book of Virtues for Young People" so that I can read with my teenager and toddler. Although I haven't read either book, I am delighted with anticipation.
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