Have you ever come across something in life that is so profound and life changing that you feel the need to tell everyone you know about it? Repeatedly? That’s how I feel about The Book of Virtues. This is not a hot new book on the NY Times best seller list, nor is it a quick weekend read. The Book of Virtues is an 800+ page book that emphasizes the importance of character. Responsibility, Courage, Compassion, Honesty, Friendship, Persistence, and Faith are highlighted in this book through hundreds of short stories and poems.
If your children are anything like mine there is some bad behavior spilling forth from them that could use correcting. I feel like my kids have turned me off and no longer hear my teachings. I wanted a fun family way to help them learn the essential traits of good character. The Book of Virtues has done exactly that. The most surprising part is that my kids are actually excited to read from this book every night.
For my family, this book fits into our daily routine. Regardless of what happens all day we make sure that we eat dinner together. After dinner I pick a chapter from the book and read it out loud. Each chapter has many stories from the following categories; Responsibility, Courage, Compassion, Honesty, Friendship, Persistence, and Faith. Depending on the day I might skip to a specific section in order to highlight a specific trait. For instance, I am currently working with my daughter on saying please when she asks for something. There is a short story about two brothers and how one of them gave his please to his brother because he wasn’t using it. The story is funny and entertaining as the other brother has to say please twice (since he has his brothers please too). It became a funny way to remind my daughter to say please. Each story is relatively short ranging from 1 – 14 pages. The stories come from famous sources ranging from the Bible to American history, from Greek mythology to English poetry, from fairy tales to modern fiction.
Since I started reading this book about a month ago I have noticed an improvement in my children’s behavior. Having examples of behavior each day allows us to discuss how we act and what we should be doing using the examples from the book. My children are in no way angels, but this book has made an impact and I will celebrate every improvement I can.
My children are 5 and 7 and they love this book. I could imagine this book would be practical for children into their teenage years as well. Actually, this book has been helpful for me and my husband too. It is truly a book that in a couple of minutes a day has the power to transform your family.
Which Virtues Book To Buy?
I have the original version and love it but there are several versions to choose from. The below is copied directly from an Amazon comment describing the various versions. I hope this helps you pick the best book for your family.
I bought the hardcover edition of Bennett’s The 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. 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 which combines three of Bennett’s books.
Hope you find these books as helpful was I did!