Tuesday, March 2, 2010

E is for Ethics by Ian James Corlett - Book Review

One evening last November some tricksters decided to turn on all the outdoor faucets on each of the houses in our neighborhood. My husband was the first to discover the running faucets, pretty much by accident. He walked into our basement to feed the cat and thought he heard a hissing noise coming from the pipes and immediately worried that our hose bib had frozen. When he went outside to investigate he found our faucet dripping and then noticed that our next door neighbor's was running full blast. In total, seven houses had running faucets.

We are fairly certain that some of the older neighborhood kids are responsible. The faucets had only been running for a short while. If my husband wouldn't have noticed when he did, the running faucets could have caused a lot of damage. I doubt the kids responsible had considered how much expense this little practical joke could have ended up costing our neighborhood. They certainly weren't being considerate and they obviously didn't consider the repercussions. While my preschool daughter watched us resolve the situation, I explained to her using simple terms that as she grows older she'll need to decide right from wrong and make wise decisions that don't hurt other people. The kids that chose to turn on the faucets made an unkind, disrepectful decision that caused hurt.

Teaching a child values isn't a one step process. It takes careful parenting and positive role modeling. Preschool is a good time to start talking about concepts like truthfulness, forgiveness and respect. By using little scenarios, parents can have important conversations with their children but, at the same time, keep those conversations light and fun.

Ian James Corlett just recently published a book called E Is for Ethics: How to Talk to Kids About Morals, Values, and What Matters Most. The 26 read-aloud mini stories help parents discuss ethics with their children. The short stories (usually about a page) include corresponding illustrations to engage young children. The same two characters, Elliott and Lucy (brother and sister) star in the stories. The author poses a few questions at the end of each story to help children understand the main concepts and encourage dialog between parent and child. The book covers the following topics related to ethics:

Honesty • Understanding • Forgiveness • Courage • Tact • Perseverance • Politeness • Loyalty • Gratitude • Truthfulness • Fairness • Acceptance • Patience • Sincerity • Citizenship • Integrity • Kindness • Responsibility • Effort • Empathy • Charity • Helpfulness • Generosity • Willingness • Trust • Respect

While the book is a wonderful tool for parents to use, I also think that educators could use it in their classrooms to help their students learn about values. In fact, I just noticed that E is for Ethics is one of the featured titles in our Scholastic school book fair flyer. Those in early elementary (ages 10 and below) will benefit most from reading E is for Ethics.

Corlett's book reminds me of a non-religious version of the family devotional books my parents read to me as a child. One of my favorite parts about reading those books with my parents was the time spent together on evenings talking. Family time is important especially in this fast-paced world and books like E is for Ethics help families sit down, connect and talk about important concepts. My preschool daughter really liked the little stories, but at first she really just wanted to read all of them at once. The book works better when used as intended -- one short story and then a larger discussion. On the E is for Ethics website, James Corlett is offering a really amazing free downloadable coloring book that corresponds with the stories in the book. I found that if I printed off a page for my daughter to color after we read the story, then she spent more time discussing the questions with me while coloring. I'm impressed by how much she's learning from the book and by how much she already knows. When discussing one of her favorite stories in the book, the one about kindness, she easily talked about examples pulled from her own experiences.

I want my children to grow up with a solid foundation and be able to assess right from wrong. Books are a very useful tool in helping stimulate dialog related to values, and I'm sure we'll refer to E is for Ethics several times in the next few years.

E Is for Ethics: How to Talk to Kids About Morals, Values, and What Matters Most by Ian James Corlett, illustrated by R. A. Holt. Atria (December 2009); 128 pages; ISBN 9781416596547

Related Links:
E is for Ethics Website
E is for Ethics Coloring Book
Reading Group Guide
E Is for Ethics: Excerpt
Book Source: Review copy provided for free for purposes of review by publisher. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Margo Dill said...

Thanks for reviewing this book. You always have to wonder if books like this will touch kids or not. And these subjects are not easy to just bring up sometimes. I love books that help us discuss stuff with kids.

Margo :)