Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Golden Rule

I was excited to crack open the cover of The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper. A picture book explaining what the "rule" is and how it applies to a child's everyday life is exactly what I wanted for my daughter, and this brand new book seemed ideal. After reading the book, however, I'm not sure if I will keep it, or return it.

The story is pretty straightforward. A boy and his grandfather see a billboard with "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Luke 6:31) written on it. They then have a conversation about what it means, who the rule is for ("A rule that's the same for children and grown-ups?" the boy asks. "There aren't too many rules like that."), then discuss the practical applications of it. ("Imagine how someone else feels," grandpa says. The boy imagines a child's first day at school, how scared she is, and how a smile from someone would make him feel better if he were in her shoes.)

Then the author has grandfather ask: "What if countries lived by the Golden Rule?" To which the boy (who often sounds mature beyond his years) says that perhaps there wouldn't be wars. And while this is true, as adults we know it isn't quite that simple. Fortunately, grandpa says that you can't make everyone in the world be kind to each other, and the book ends on a positive note: "It begins with you."

What I Liked: The concept is fabulous. (Why is there no book like this by a Christian publishing house?) I especially love the fact that the author points out ways children can apply Luke 6:31 to their lives. The Impressionist-style illustrations, by Gabi Swiatkowska, are simply gorgeous. They are a treat for little eyes, as well as big ones, because my 19 month old was fascinated with them.

What I Dislike: This book is a bit too politically correct for my taste. The author points out that the Golden Rule is ancient and that many religions have variations of it: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Shawnee Tribe. Unfortunately, she doesn't mention that the "rule" originated with Judaism and Christianity. The end result is that she makes each of these religions seem equal. Some people might like that presentation, but many Christians will not.

Overall Rating: (On the lower end of ) Good.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Abrams, 2007; ISBN: 081090960X; hardback, $16.95

Buy Now at Amazon for $11.53.


Anonymous said...

How could the Golden Rule have been first introduced with the Christian/Jewish tradition when it was within all different indiginous religions prior to Abraham/Jesus, etc. Not to mention Buddism or Hinduism which developed in different regions of the world. I would challenge you to look closer and see that the Golden Rule does not have one source; it has been a common thread throughout all religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

This excellent book did not give Christians credit for originating morals and the Golden Rule because morals and the Golden Rule pre-date Christianity.
The earliest surviving written record of the Golden Rule goes back about 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptians civilization. However, this kind of moral behavioral ideal would have been a human understanding long before that time.
In the 6th century B.C. Confucius propounded the Golden Rule. "What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do unto others" "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire."