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Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  268 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Above All, Be Kind teaches parents how to raise their children to be humane in the broadest sense—to become not only more compassionate in their interactions with family and friends, but to grow up to make life choices that demonstrate respect for the environment, other species, and all people. The book includes chapters for early, middle, teenage, and young adult years, a ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by New Society Publishers
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Dolly
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
This is a wonderful book for parents that really emphasizes teaching children to be humane. The book is filled with anecdotes, advice and tips for practical application of the concepts.

At the end of the book, Zoe Weil offers a comprehensive questionnaire that will guide a parent to take steps to act more humanely and to live the concept of, "My life is my message.". She also offers different references, lists, facts and resources that show the damaging impacts of typical American consumerism. F
...more
Jain
One of the better parenting books I've read by a socially progressive, vegetarian author. Contains no homophobia, overt Christian messages, or anti-pornography or anti-sex rants (though she does advocate treating sexuality with seriousness and respect). Her argument that children need to learn to live their lives with greater intentionality and according to a moral compass is based more in a principle of consideration for others and oneself rather than in negative proscriptions. Encourages teach ...more
Marc Lucke
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
After delaying for close to two years, I finally pulled this book off my shelf and read it last month. I stalled so long because of two fears: first, that the book would be another mindless collection of empty platitudes (like so many other parenting books before it) or, conversely, that it would fully live up to its promise and make me feel like an utter failure as a parent. In a sense, the book's mediocrity came as a relief.

The book's middling success isn't really its fault: it just so happens
...more
Kristen
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This book gave me so much more then I expected. Living humanely means to encompass all the best qualities of being human: kindness, compassion, honesty, willingness to change, generosity, courage, self discipline, humor, wisdom and integrity ... of course being all of that all the time is not realistic but, learning to have most qualities most of the time can be. It's the kind of book I'll want to read again to remind myself and reinforce the messages.

This book teaches the four elements of human
...more
Peacegal
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-gifts
You may wonder why I am reading a parenting book. After all, my three feline “children” will never learn to be kind, neither to each other nor to the small animals and bugs they find, so that’s a lost cause. However, I purchased this book for my library, so I felt obligated to read it, and I am also a great fan of Ms. Weil’s, having attended a wonderful participatory lecture she hosted. This is an informational and fun book, a sort of Most Good, Least Harm for parents and those who work with chi ...more
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents, educators, environmentalists, vegans
I really liked this book and recommend it to all parents and folks who care for children! Weil has carefully crafted a humane education curriculum to help kids learn how to make compassionate choices, and this book shares the best of what she's learned from her experiences. It's packed with complex examples of challenges that parents run into with kids of different ages, showing very clearly how parents can help their children learn to make decisions for themselves with great kindness and wisdom ...more
Bird
This is a tough book for me to rate, because I like the premise and ideas, but there were things that just didn't work for me.

Some of the scenarios were so overdone it seemed like I was watching one of those after-school specials that have the big moral lesson at the end. I think the author could have gotten her point across just as well (or perhaps better) if she hadn't been so heavy-handed at points.

My favorite thing about the book was her theme throughout of, "My life is my message," (a quot
...more
Charlene
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Zoe Weil brings us a book that is insightful and practical. Today's culture makes it difficult for those parents who want to raise their children as kind, humane, generous, responsible, and confident people. Children are discouraged from spending time outside in a natural environment, choosing instead to spend time with their computers, gaming systems, and of course television. Commercials are becoming more bold in their quest to push the latest product, and peer pressure - through all ages, inc ...more
Brandie
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Definitely an interesting read and a worthwhile read. She gives lots of scenarios and how parents dealt with them - she even includes a few brief interview with kids who are humane and what their parents did to get them there.

I'm glad I read it. I wrote down a few other books to read from her recommended reading section. Also has a few facts on sweatshop labor, child labor, etc, etc to get you thinking about how what you are doing every day impacts the great world outside your door and on the ot
...more
Jeannie
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Although this book has been previously reviewed as a "parenting book," I have looked at this book as a concerned citizen and educator who believes it takes a "village to raise a child." One need not be a parent to pick up this book to reap benefits.

If you look at any point in history, people may have described their lives as "challenging" and difficult. Times of challenge can be reflective of times of change in the world. In today's world, for example, there are so many developments and changes
...more
Kellie
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was different than what I was expecting.

The author believes there are 4 elements to raising a humane child:

*Providing information
*Teaching critical thinking
*Instilling reverence, respect and responsibility
*Offering positive choices

Basically the parent should model good behavior/their message and promote critical thinking positive choices. Involve yourself and your children in things in your community that promote values and community (volunteer with nonprofits, join a food coop, etc.)
...more
Denise
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
Intensely earnest, well-meant little book, but I was really weirded out by all of the faux-anecdotal parenting stories, and pretty offended by the one about "Brian, Charlene and Bill," which described one teenager flirting with a "cult" full of full time religious "devotees" that seemed to be a very thinly-veiled average Buddhist monastery. I imagine a lot of American parents, even hippy-dippy ones like the author, look on Buddhist monks and nuns as cult devotees, but I found this very inconsist ...more
Kelsey
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
The four elements to raising humane children are:
1) Providing information: This can be about a particular subject or generally being inquisitive.
2) Teaching critical thinking: Bring curiosity and skepticism to all information, listening to many points of view and asking questions.
3) Instilling reverence, respect, and responsibility
4)Offering positive choices

Reverence (emotion)-->Respect (attitude)-->Responsibility (act)

Reverence invites us to feel deeply and intimately a profound appreciation
...more
Kellie
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Really great parenting philosophy book that was spot on in my opinion. She is not overtly religious but I do think her teachings fit well with Progressive Christian ideas. I particularly liked that she directly links reverence to respect to responsibility. Basically, if you encourage kids to find beauty in and to love and care for the earth and other people, and also teach them that their actions can make a difference, they will grow up to respect the earth, themselves, and other people and will ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Jul 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
Eh. I was interested in this concept, as I often tell my son that what makes me proudest as a mother is when he is kind because he must choose to be, versus just having a talent or learning a skill, but this book was more about changing/embracing an entire lifestyle (organic and/or vegan diets, not buying certain brands of products, etc) than it was about how to teach your children to think of others feelings before speaking or acting. I also felt that the author had an agenda to push and a very ...more
Jen Adams
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Starts off really well, but that couldn't fool me into believing this book was nothing short of obvious parenting (if you're first to anger then maybe you should rethink your life choices?), and an in-your-face sermon about only having one kid (like the author), becoming a vegetarian (like the author), and focusing on only environmental and animal rights (like.....the author). If you're not living like her, then you are a horrible person essentially committing genocide of people, animals, and th ...more
Maya
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think everyone should read this book--especially parents. It caused me to do some deep thinking. I'm going to try and be more mindful of my decisions too. It isn't overly judgmental so don't let that scare you away (although she is obviously vegetarian/vegan and feels pretty strongly about that choice). I haven't finished reading through all the older age sections yet since my kids are only four and two months...but I skimmed them. It's the kind of book I'll want to pull out to remind myself a ...more
Danine
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I've been wanting to read this for a long time. I fear that I have only a pompous perspective about this book and that is I already knew about most of the content. I live all of the content every day and raise my child accordingly.

The writing is not great. The story in the beginning about the mothers who were in conversation about their situations was just cheesy. The resolutions they came to were even cheesier. I appreciate the message especially against animal cruelty.
Jessica
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it


With practical tips for a variety of situations, based on the author's experience as a humane educator and on anecdotes from parents and children, this book encourages parents to foster open, respectful relationships with their children and attitudes of reverence and respect (toward others & the environment). I enjoyed Weil's conversational tone. I hope she writes a companion book that's more empirically based, to help create the humane world she envisions.
...more
Jennifer
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This parenting book is unlike any I’ve ever read before. It was a breath of fresh air. There are no rigid rules, instead it is a guide on how to be humane and in turn that will encourage our children to be humane as well. I feel so much pressure to be a “good” parent thinking of everything I should do or have my children do and not feeling like I’m getting anything accomplished. Just thinking of parenting this new way takes some of that pressure off.
S. R.
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
First parenting book I've read (which is not saying much) that has made the connection between compassion and responsibility, and also stresses that you must model the behavior and beliefs you wish your children to learn. Very much appreciated, especially the sections on Weil's 3 Rs: respect, responsibility, and reverence. Loved it, will be buying my own copy to refer to and loan out.
Deirdre Keating
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: leftunfinished
I shouldn't put a rating because while I liked what I read, I didn't get very far. It was a library check-out, and from skimming through it, I didn't find anything very fresh or novel, but it is probably a good reminder/refresher on parenting consciously.
Heidi
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mama-books
I just read the beginning and first years chapters - there were some inspirational and useful things - but overall I thought the book was all over the place - yes there are a lot of things that go into being "kind" but I just didnt feel like it was connected as well and came off more as preachy
Jo
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Nice book. Works really well for me as a reminder. In fact, I need to put the cover on the wall in font of me for, er, "those days". Y'know the ones where you aren't being Mother of the Year?
Trace
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-book-list
I had read "Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook" last year and forgot to take notes of all the great tangible ideas the author offered. I'll try this book to see if its as good.

Lynn
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
OK, so I didn't exactly read this book cover to cover. I greatly appreciate and value the message. But I can't say it made for gripping reading.
Meg
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Have read bits and pieces, will continue to reference as Maria gets older. Thought provoking and sensible ways to raise good quality human beings.
Elfiegirl
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I know, it's funny, an eleven year old reading adult parenting books. But this was really good!
Meredith
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book mostly useful. Although I have younger children and feel like this would be more useful to reread when my children are slightly older.
Denise
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I've started reading this book several times and never finished. I appreciate the writing style, but the first few chapters did not really offer me any new information that I did not already know.
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Zoe Weil is the co-founder and present of the Institute for Humane Education(IHE). In addition to creating the M.Ed. and certificate programs for IHE and leading IHE’s Sowing Seeds and MOGO (Most Good) workshops, Zoe Weil is the author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education (2004) for educators, Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times (2003) for parents, and Most Good ...more

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“Reverence is an emotion that we can nurture in our very young children, respect is an attitude that we instill in our children as they become school-agers, and responsibility is an act that we inspire in our children as they grow through the middle years and become adolescents.” 26 likes
“If the traditional Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic) are the basics that we want our children to master academically, then reverence, respect, and responsibility are the three Rs that our children need to master for the sake of their souls and the health of the world.” 21 likes
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