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The Book of Virtues

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,405 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Responsibility. Courage. Compassion. Honesty. Friendship. Persistence. Faith. Everyone recognizes these traits as essentials of good character. In order for our children to develop such traits, we have to offer them examples of good and bad, right and wrong. And the best places to find them are in great works of literature and exemplary stories from history.
William J.
Paperback, 832 pages
Published September 5th 1996 by Simon Schuster (first published November 1st 1993)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  2,405 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild'ring
Innocent and honest children

But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory -
Theirs is quite a different story!

Cruel children, crying babies,
All grow up as geese and gabies,
Hated, as their age increases,
By their nephews and their nieces!

Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reading excerpts from this book at a time is like sitting down in front of the fire with your Grandpa or Grandma telling you stories you can fall asleep too. All the stories, essays, poems, songs, rhymes uphold a virtue. They range from humorous to serious in nature. Any book that carries Henry V's battle cry, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends," belongs in the home library.
5.0 stars (I would give it more if I could). An absolutely superb collection of stories brilliantly edited by William Bennett. A wonderful teaching tool for parents and a lot of fun for kids.
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dreamers
Well I'm rounding 700 pages in this 815-page monster, so I'm going to call it read. Hope you won't protest.
The Book of Virtues is a very large collection of interesting fiction, non-fiction, children's poems, Greek myth, biblical stories, inspiring speeches once given, historical figures' journal entries, tall tales and such. They are loosely compiled according to the "virtue" they posses. This is just the kind of thing I love: Things that are fanciful and thought provoking. Over the course of
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The Book of Virtues" is made up of smaller stories on important life virtues. I was actually kind of excited to read some of the smaller stories, mostly the ones that mean the most to me. I read Loyalty(pg663-737) and Self Discipline(pg19-104), which were both very interesting. I enjoyed Loyalty most, I think because I can relate to that more. One quote in Loyalty is ,"We don't have to like those to whom we are loyal, and they don't have to like us". Reading this quote made me think twice about ...more
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Oh. That was my reaction once I finally got around to cracking this tome open. It turns out this book is not what I was thinking it was going to be. Based on the title, I was expecting real, true stories that illustrated great moral truths. Ya know, like the guy who was honest about the clerk giving him too much change, even though he didn't know how he was going to feed his family that night, and then because of his honesty, the store manager offers him a job, and he's able to feed his family ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Youngsters who love legends, fables, and fairytales.
I remember being introduced to this book on my tenth birthday, when it was given to me as a birthday gift. I was completely fascinated by the thickness of the thing, and I was so proud at the thought of reading through it all. I did eventually read it all, and after that one read I went back and read my favorite stories over and over. Some were very serious, others more lighthearted, some funny, and still some that were unbelievable - but to a child's mind, deliciously fictional.
Perhaps some
Dec 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
All Bennett proved is that he can compile good stories than he didn't write but liked. And then he makes a lot of money from it. No original thinking here and shouldn't original thinking be one of the highest virtues?
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
some kids had "Goodnight Moon" and stuff like that.
I had the Book of Virtues. Thanks, parents.
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book! A collection of works that is easy to dip in and out of during the day. This book was originally intended for kids but I feel that adults can gain much from this book. I am currently reading the chapter titled "Compassion." I have to share this one particular entry with you:
The Sin of Omission by Margaret E. Sangster

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
Its the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender work forgotten,
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A big fat book of many types of stories that are arranged by the virtue they illustrate- honesty, hard work, courage, etc. There's a little bit of everything in here for a family- from a little spooky tale of The Wee, Wee Woman to the inspiration of Washington's Farewell Address.There are Greek myths and retellings of scripture stories. There are songs and poems. There are even things we didn't agree with, or the kids found disturbing in small ways. They led to important discussions on dealing ...more
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
I borrowed this book from the library with the intention of having "family reading time". I read the stories myself and kept a list of the stories that I thought my 13 year old daughter would be most interested in. Dang teenagers... she didn't want anything to do with it! As for myself, there were some stories I really liked and others, not so much.
Elle Alexander
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Every person, be they very young or very old, should own this book.
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This audio collection is very nostalgic for me. I remember the times when my mother would play these for me (in glorious cassette form, no less!), and I would listen to these memorable stories, told with only the most soothing of voices, until I fell asleep. When I got older, my mother had the cassettes recorded and burnt into CDs, and I, in turn, got the MP3s and listen to them on my portable media player from time to time.

The stories come from far and wide, featuring the mighty Genghis Khan to
This had an abundance of good stories, but also a few I didn't care for.

"Kill Devil Hill" included a misuse of God's name (pg. 148), "The Ballad of John Henry (pp.153-154) used a dialectal misuse repeatedly ("Lawd, Lawd"). The excerpt from Anne Frank's diary (pp. 184-188) included some boy-crazy talk and bragging (though the last two paragraphs were admirable). "Our Lady's Juggler" (pp. 352-359) featured the deification of Mary and the people worshipped her and prayed to her as having taken the
Terry Jacobs
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
"The Book of Virtues" is an interesting collection of stories and philosophies concerning virtue. While marketed as a book to "... aid in the time-honored task of the moral education of the young," much of it is beneficial to enlightening the parent as well. The material in the book that I personally found most intriguing is probably beyond the comprehension of "the young," but would serve as a catalyst for dialogue that could be useful in instructing teens in the art and science of virtue.

Neil Sharma
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is not a book designed to be read cover to cover. Rather, you flip through it, pick a few short stories or poems, and read it slowly. Afterwards, stop and think about it, let your mind marinate in each virtue, and perhaps memorize a passage or two.

I probably only read a quarter of the book so far, but glimpsed at most of it. Some stories are familiar -- the velveteen rabbit or the boy who cried wolf, others are more obscure and come from non-western cultures.

There is a charm in reading
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading this book off and on for fifteen years or so. It is filled with stories, fables, poetry, song lyrics, and lots of other great pieces of classical literature. I use many of the myths in this book in my classroom. It's a long book; not one you'd sit down and read cover to cover, but each time I open it I find something else I like. Essentially, the editor arranges each chapter by virtue--friendship, discipline, faith, etc.--and provides selections from classical literature and ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I was a little surprised by this book. I've seen William Bennett interviewed and was a little turned off by his extreme right-wing viewpoints (read--moralistic). But The Book of Virtues is just a huge collection of stories that are organized by the virtues that they proclaim: Self-Discipline, Compassion, Responsibility, Friendship, Work, Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, Loyalty and Faith. Bennett serves merely to introduce each story with a short comment and he does so without seeming at all ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book from the school library. Unfortunately, finals were coming up and I coudn't finish it and had to return it already.

Even though I was only able to read the first two chapters, I can say that it is a great book. It is truly meant not only for a children's treasury, but also for teen and adults. The morals are well expressed in the strories, poems, and discourses. Plus, the printing quality was also good. The book is awfully heavy, by the way.

Actually I found a hardbound copy
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My parents had a copy of this that they bought when I was a teen. I loved the collection of classic short stories, fables and fairy tales. I also think the wording is updated to modern understanding. I have a large vocabulary, but recently read an older version of Aesop's fables that was tripping me up. Many of those stories are in The Book of Virtues, but readable for children. Because the stories are short, you can always just pick one to read at night, no need to go through the book front to ...more
You know you've got something good when your kids are asking you to read once again that one story about George Washington, or that one about the "please," or the one about the frog and the snake, or the one about the shiny windows.

I think to myself, do they REALIZE that they just asked me to teach them about honesty, self-discipline, friendship, gratitude? I finally had to return this to my mom because we've had it for so long, but I'll be watching for it at a bargain price so I can have my own
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: parents
Shelves: children, american
I know this author has gotten a "bad rap" (for what I can't remember), but I have fond memories of this book. My parents bought the big, original hard cover edition (from Costco!) for us when we were kids. I memorized parts of "Paul Revere's Ride" out of this book. When I was struggling in composition, my dad made me copy George Washington Carver essays out of it. Who cares if it sounds corny, this is a book for patriots (though I would recommend it to anyone) . . . in my humble opinion, of ...more
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Without exception, the best collection of truth ever compiled. It is amazing to me that the "world" is just looking to tear down the truth. When Wm Bennett compliled these stories it was an instant phenomenon, but his personal gambling problems and misquoted racial statement devalued him as one having moral authority, and likewise the morals in the stories have lost some of their perceived luster.
Apr 26, 2011 is currently reading it
The first time I saw this book was a few years ago at the Ghost City Inn in Jerome, Arizona. I fell in love with it. Well, I have finally purchased it for myself. This will give me many house of great reading... not to mention many great hours painting as well. I look forward to sitting and reading it to my Boys too. :)
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of wonderful stories that encourage young and old to be at their moral best, and they are entertaining as well! It includes stories like the velveteen rabbit, to trues stories about Lincoln, founding fathers, and more. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you have kids!
Jul 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really like these books, even if you happen on a less than stellar story they don't last long and for the most part there is a lot of gold. The most powerful teachers, presenters and leaders I know are masters of shaping meaning with stories and anecdotes so it's always good to have a few in the ol' hip pocket.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another one of those books that offers so many insights into life, and living. It's set up as a series of stories, folk tales, etc. that are meant to teach lessons to young and old alike. I think of this book more as a reference than anything else and I look forward to sharing these words of wisdom from all over the world with my son.
Zacksmom Okon
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a book I will continue to read weekly. My children (and I) adore these stories. This is a MUST have in everyone's home library (young and old). Who doesn't need a refresher course in self-dicipline, responsibility, courage, faith, friendship, etc.? This well-organized book is presented in such an enjoyable fashion, it begs to be read often.
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William J. "Bill" Bennett is a politician and author who served in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, as chief of National Endowment for the Humanities and later Secretary of Education under Reagan, and Drug Czar under Bush. He is a nationally well-known figure of political and social conservatism and authored many books on politics, ethics, and international relations.

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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
15 likes · 2 comments
“A Child’s Prayer M. Bentham-Edwards God make my life a little light, Within the world to glow; A tiny flame that burneth bright Wherever I may go. God make my life a little flower, That giveth joy to all, Content to bloom in native bower, Although its place be small. God make my life a little song, That comforteth the sad; That helpeth others to be strong, And makes the singer glad. God make my life a little staff, Whereon the weak may rest, That so what health and strength I have May serve my neighbors best.” 0 likes
“Therefore we must give a certain character to our activities. . . . In short, the habits we form from childhood make no small difference, but rather they make all the difference.” 0 likes
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