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The Soul of the Child: Nurturing the Divine Identity of Our Children Hardcover – October 29, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743417046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743417044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,442,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Therapist and best-selling author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls Gurian focuses here on the spiritual nature of children, warning parents not to treat their children as "economic interns, whose primary goal as adults is to make money," but to spend time tending to their souls. Mingling scientific analysis with religious philosophy, he argues that the soul and the body are one entity-that the soul is part of our neurological makeup. Understanding this can help parents raise their child to become what he calls a "new human," a healthy, secure person empowered to follow his or her own divine destiny. Gurian argues that most children are robbed of their right (and indeed, their innate inclination) to live a life of meaning and spiritual purpose; he blames the overstimulation of mass culture and the breakdown of the family (including the extended family) for the many problems and psychological disorders of today's children. Gurian dances quickly over the neuroscience of the soul, however, and for some, his connection between electrical impulses that run us and the light in our eyes that he says is our souls shining through will be hard to swallow. But his vision for a healthy world and nurturing family life for children is a crucial one, and will no doubt be welcomed by his many fans.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Many books deal with the physical, intellectual, and psychological development of children, but few address the development of a child's soul in the manner that Gurian's does. Gurian, whose books include The Wonder of Girls, The Wonder of Boys, and Boys and Girls Learn Differently!, is a child development specialist and founder of the Michael Gurian Institute at the University of Missouri. His new work joins science-especially the "new sciences" (neurobiology, neurochemistry, neurophysics, etc.)-with various world religious traditions. Gurian presents his theory of humankind's development from Homo sapiens into Homo infiniens as well as his theory of the soul as light-which means that it is measurable and its existence thus provable. This controversial theory should not distract from the useful if general advice the author provides. Most people with at least some religious or spiritual background will recognize the importance of nurturing a soul's development and will appreciate this guidance. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
John Moryl, Yeshiva Univ. Lib., New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cole, Jr on November 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Gurian has broken new ground again!
Michael Gurian blends a perfect mixture of science, religion and child development theory/practice in his cutting edge book, The Soul of the Child. Too many books on parenting/children focus on one area, such as child development, but neglect faith and spirit. Or they blend child development with religion, but omit any discussion of our biological nature.
What is brilliant...and arguably ahead of his time, is Gurian's discussion of a child's soul. Here Gurain accesses knowledge/ wisdom from the world's religions and then combines those ancient traditions with the most recent discoveries in brain science and genetics to actually "locate" and identify the soul...to prove the soul's existence. What most of us know intuitively, Michael proves with science...and religion...that the soul is light, and the child's soul is light. It is our job as adults to tame, nurture and expand this light...or we can darken it.
But that is just the beginning! Gurian then takes us through a child's development and shows how events...both good and bad...imprint on the soul. In essence, he wants us to realize that in our interactions with children...whether they are ours, in the neighborhood, or at our school, or wherever, that we do have an impact on our children, and this impact can be measured through technologies such as PET scans. Again, he is reinforcing things that most know intuitively...and this strengthens our knowledge and can help us with children.
And there is much, much more. Nowhere have I found such a broad, deep, compassionate synthesis of science and spirituality in one book. By the time you have finished this, not only will you have a better understanding of your child, but you will understand yourself...and the human being as well. And you just might agree with Michael, that "God IS the child."
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By lindyjulie on May 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"By the end of this book--I hope, by the end of this chapter--you will say to yourself, I thought I was a free thinker, but now I now better what freedom is." pg.xxv
Wow, that's a bold way to start off one's introduction! Alas, Michael Gurian fails to provide convincing evidence, whether theological, philosophical, or scientific, that would be likely to convince his readers of many of the bold claims that he sets forth in this book. These include the creation of a new species of man, "homo infiniens", the rejection of any distinction between the mind and body, and the ideas that the soul is light and that God is a child.
What Gurian does instead is skim lightly on the surface of the major religious traditions, the science of neuropsychology, and his own 'epiphanies'. I kept expecting to find more substance to these claims, but it was never realized. For example, in trying to defend his claim that the soul and body are one, Gurian states the following:
"In the Far East, the foundational religious text, the Bhagavad Gita, tells us: "When the body is freed of all passions, the soul is purified." This language, too, makes us think at first glance that soul and body are separate. Hinduism genearlly is interpreted as saying that the soul is real, the body an illusion. Yet if we understand the sentence as an early form of human language, we can see that unity is inherent in it; soul and body are completely interdependent." pg. 138-139
And thus ends the section! We are given no further explanation of what Gurian means by understanding the sentence as 'an early form of human language". These kinds of unsatisfying defenses pervade the entire book.
And this is a shame, because a book that could explain the need for "nuturing the divine identity of our children" and providing good ways to do so would certainly be a worthwhile contribution. But this is not that book. If you are intrigued by Gurian's claims, you'll need to go elsewhere to find them fleshed out.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't get me wrong, this was a good book, but the title is misleading (and at the time I ordered it, they didn't have a "see inside" feature). The author provides lots of interesting information about the science of the soul but very little about nurturing it. The problem is that if you already know that you're raising 'little souls' and not just 'kids', you spend nearly all of the book reading info about proof of the soul's existence and neurobiology (fascinating information, but if you've read it before in other books and publications, it's quite repetitive).
Bottom Line: If you've never really thought about the divine side of childhood or the 'little soul' inside your child, you'll probably love this book. However, if you already know the soul exists and that nurturing your child's soul is the most important thing you can do for them & you wanted this book to learn more about soul nurturing... you'll probably be disappointed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Gurian's books about raising boys are excellent. In this book he seems to jump off the deep end into his spiritual world - Why would anyone else find his spiritual musings worthwhile? He should stick to family therapy, his expertise.
I also must point out that most of the 5 starred reviews on this book are from Spokane, WA, which is where he is from.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Gurian's book is well worth reading. His unitheistic approach to nurturing the light and soul of all children (including ourselves) is inspiring and hopeful. The sections on medical advances showing the special nature of our life-force and brain development were especially interesting and accessible, and I'd have liked him to explore these areas in more depth. My quibble with the book is on a stylistic level: given his subject matter, I could wish for a greater elegance and lyricism. The first third of the book, I felt, was heavy-handed and prosaic. His insistence on soul being equivalent to light seemed repetitive and not entirely supported. A recommended read, nevertheless.
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More About the Author

Michael Gurian is a social philosopher, family therapist, corporate consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books published in fifteen languages. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.
As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, workplaces, schools and public policy. A number of his ground-breaking books in child development, including THE WONDER OF BOYS, BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY! THE WONDER OF GIRLS and WHAT COULD HE BE THINKING? have sparked national debate. His newest work, THE MINDS OF BOYS (September 2005) provides a revolutionary new framework, based in neuro-biology, by which to understand and care for the educational needs of our sons.
Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities a year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University. His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.
Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.
Michael can be reached on the worldwide web at
www.michaelgurian.com