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The Book of Virtues Paperback – September 5, 1996
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
William J. Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories
The premise of Bennett’s books is quite simple: “The purpose of this book is to show parents, teachers, students, and children what the virtues look like, what they are in practice, how to recognize them, and how they work.” (1)
To provide a moral compass for the young, Bennett utilizes stories from the Bible, American history, poems, fables, Greek myths, philosophy, fiction, and fairy tales to teach the virtues of self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith.
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. But in the end, I wanted more choice of stories, and that version just didn't have enough variety. As in all the books, the stories are grouped by theme (Honesty, Loyalty, Faith, Responsibility, etc.), and the Boys and Girls book has only five themes to choose from, half as many as this adult version.
If you want just inspiring stories of real and fictional heroes, Bennett has also collected such stories in The Children's Book of Heroes, which is a brief book as well, just 112 pages and containing 18 stories. And, The Children's Treasury of Virtues combines three of Bennett's books, The Children's Book of America (American stories, poems and songs), The Children's Book of Virtues and The Children's Book of Heroes.
Hope this helps!
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.