________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 30 . . . . April 9, 2010


E is for Ethics: How to Talk to Kids About Morals, Values, and What Matters Most.

Ian James Corlett. Illustrated by R.A. Holt.
New York, NY: Atria Books (Distributed in Canada by Simon and Schuster Canada), 2009.
107 pp., hardcover, $24.99.
ISBN 978-1-4165-9654-7.

Subject Heading:
Children-Conduct of life.

Grades 1-7 / Ages 6-12.

Review by Lizanne Eastwood.

**** /4


Remember, doing the right thing and feeling good are contagious –– contagious in a good way. You wouldn't want to give someone a cold, but if they catch your "do the right thing" bug and it spreads, the world will be a better place.


E is for Ethics is a wonderful book for families or teachers that want to introduce and explore the idea of ethics and morality with their young charges. The book contains 26 read-aloud stories with follow-up questions for discussion and pertinent quotations which touch upon a number of situations that both children and those adults who remember what it was like to be a child will find familiar. Some of the scenarios deal with acceptance, citizenship, integrity, generosity, helpfulness and respect.

     In the introduction, the author, Ian James Corlett, tells us how he and his wife started "Family Fun Time," a weekly discussion time with their children. They wanted to teach their children tact, understanding and responsibility in a world where these virtues are seriously underplayed. Morals and ethics are no longer a part of any elementary school-based curriculum. Instead, we live in an era where the television seems to be teaching us how to be in the world, and that is a sad state of affairs.

     As parents and teachers, it is our job and responsibility to pass these positive "skills" on to our children now, preparing them for the inevitable choices they will have to make in the future.

internal art

     In the Victorian era, children's literature revolved around moralistic tales, often presented in a very didactic and preachy way. This book is just the opposite. Each of the scenarios presented plays out very realistically; the children will probably see themselves or have witnessed friends in similar situations. Instead of telling the children what they should do, or how they should react, the author presents a number of open-ended questions and possibilities, perfect for discussion. There is no right or wrong answer, just a number of thoughtful ways the scene could play out.

     The characters, based on the author's children, are extremely likable and very realistic. The illustrations by R.A. Holt are lovely. As an adult, I found myself thinking very carefully about how I would have dealt with these situations as a child, and I wished that I had a chance to encounter them in the form of a story before having to deal with them in real life. I may have made some better choices.

     I highly recommend this book for adults who have young children ages 6-12 in their lives.

Highly Recommended.

Lizanne Eastwood is a Community Literacy Coordinator with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, a library employee and a home schooling parent of two active teenagers in Grand Forks, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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