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The Story of Religion Paperback – September 28, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (September 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068817146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688171469
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.6 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By beginning with humankind's earliest religious beliefs and ending with humanity's organization of these beliefs, the Maestros lead children on a whirlwind tour of the world's great religious traditions. They begin by pointing out that, despite the diversity of religious traditions, human questions about the creation of the world and the meaning of death are universal. They move from animistic beliefs of early tribal religions to the mythic religious structures of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman religions to the monotheism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the polytheism of Hinduism and Buddhism. The authors weave the beliefs, myths and practices of each religion into a narrative tapestry that, they believe, demonstrates the unity lying beneath the diversity of all religions as well as the dynamic character of these religious traditions in today's world. Included in the book are brief sections describing the sacred texts, festivals and holidays. There is also a short description of other religions, such as Zoroastriansim, that are not included in the book itself, and the Maestros list the various ways in which different religions express their own versions of the maxim "All things you want people to do to you, do so to them." Color drawings of the gods, founders and important practices of each religion, like a Hindu family offering a sacrifice at their home shrine, bring these religions to life. Ages 7-9.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5?Using the same large format as the Maestros' The Discovery of the Americas (Lothrop, 1991), Betsy Maestro has written a fine basic introduction to religion. It is quite an ambitious effort to look at the development of various beliefs in a way that can be understood by fairly young children, but she succeeds admirably. Beginning with early polytheistic beliefs in multiple spirits or gods and goddesses, and their usual strong link to nature, the author moves on to introduce Taoism and teachings of Confucius, Hinduism and Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even though the coverage of each is only a few pages, the author clearly explains the development of the religion and its major tenets. She takes the viewpoint that all religions are equally valid, and tries to show ideas and customs that are found in most faiths, thus showing children the diversity of beliefs in the world and encouraging tolerance and understanding. The text is written as a long essay rather than being broken into chapters, but there is an index at the front of the book. Giulio Maestro's art tries to capture the artistic tradition of the dominant culture of each religion discussed while showing major symbols or important events. This means that the book may have less artistic unity than most of his books, but it meshes very well with the text. The different styles reinforce the uniqueness of each tradition. An attractive, interesting, and informative title.?Jane Gardner Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Betsy Maestro is the author of the "American Story" series, illustrated by her husband, Giulio. She has also written several other non-fiction picture books, including the Let's-Read-And-Find-Out science books How Do Apples Grow? and Why Do Leaves Change Color?
The Maestros live in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Tracy on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, a previous review of this book deterred me from buying it for quite some time. But I happened to find it in a local used bookstore and LOVED it! I am an atheist and I tend to be overly sensitive to religious propaganda. I get very aggrivated when I feel people are forcing their beliefs on me. This book absolutely did NOT do that!
This was a very good introduction to world religions. In my opinion it gave very equal treatment to the different religions and was not biased in any way. And after introducing each of the more popular religions, the writers spent an additional five pages discussing lesser practiced religions, atheism, diveristy, and the "Golden Rule". The very last pages of the book even contain a glossary which includes information about religions that weren't included in the book.
This was exactly what I was looking for to introduce the various world religions to my 6-year-old son! Don't let the previous reviewer scare you away! I highly recommend this book!
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Reviewer on October 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
I cannot say enough about how wonderful this book is. I am not a Christian, and I am not a religious person. Still, I want my children to know about and understand the powerful religious forces in the world.
The information is simple and straightforward, but there is enough there to clearly explain the foundations of the world's (and history's) dominant religions. The recommended ages are 4 - 8, but I think 4 might be too young and 11 might be a better top age.
The book focuses on acceptance of the differences in religious beliefs. I do not see the Judeo-Christian bias described by a previous reviewer.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Reader on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ironically, the 'fundies' ...are unlikely to approve of it! ...extremely committed 'fundamentalist' Christians (or other religion, as in ultra-orthodox Jews, or hardline Muslims or whatever). This book is not made for people whose worldview is already cast in stone- there is no way that they would be able to endorse a book that sums itself up by saying "The fact that in this world there are so many people following so many different paths to God shows that there is no one right way."
This book is a rarity in these times: a book that looks at the big picture, written in a clear, accessible but literate manner. It does not talk down to the reader- precocious 9's will enjoy it, but so will adults. It is a journey through the evolution of religion, from early concepts of powers beyond our own into increasingly structured and codified faiths. The summaries of the developments of the major world faiths of today are outstanding- they give a clear context and understanding in a very clear, succinct paragraphs. Illustrations in a variety of styles support and augment the text beautifully.
There are other books for teaching the specifics of different faiths, for every age range. This book paints a picture of how the religions of today developed, and makes a strong case for tolerance of understanding and respecting other paths to God/ Enlightenment/ Truth etc. Even the back cover quotes pitch in- I initially ignored them, assuming that they were the usual "this is a great book" blurbs, but instead they area fine selection of quotes from people as diverse as Frederick the Great and Thomas Paine.
If you are interested in a broader understanding of religion as a part of human society - for yourself or for your children- this is a great place to start. And you may just find some things that lift your faith in the world at the same time. This is a don't miss book for anybody who can accept the idea that there is more than one right answer.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B. Lamping on October 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a resource to open my daughter's eyes to the world of religion without a biase and I found it. This book offers a peek into many religions without stating who's right or who's wrong. The Story of Religion is a wonderful way for an agnostic or non-practicing believer to share the nuisances of peoples faiths without exposing them to the divisiveness found in so many introductory religious resources.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this book is very moving and provides students with a greater understanding of religion. I did not find this book biased and thought that it would help some of my students, who came from communist countries, understand what religion is. Doesn't mean that I want to convert them, but it will be easier to participate in discussions of religion and create dialogue with their parents, who entered them into a religious school.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Hollomon on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My 8 yr old was starting to ask questions about religion so I purchased this book so I could teach him about the main religions in a language that he could understand. I have found it an excellent starter book as it gives just the right amount of information for his age so as not to overwhelm him. We have been reading it together and I have also found it very informative as there was quite a bit I didn't know about certain religions. Even my 6 yr old has been sitting in with us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leda on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My four year old has been bringing up God a lot to me, especially since my devoutly Catholic parents came for a visit. I want my son to respect adults so I didn't want to disparage anything my parents had told him but at the same time, I wanted him to know that some people believe in different things and that it's okay. Then his camp took him to see the movie, Evan Almighty, and my son came home telling me that he had seen God and that God talked. My boyfriend showed him a picture of Morgan Freeman on the internet and explained that he was an actor pretending to be God. So I've been reading this book to my son but we haven't gotten through the whole thing yet. There just aren't a lot of books like this for his age. This is a little bit over his head and he's somewhat bored by it but it is doing what I needed it to do.
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