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Livo, Norma J. Bringing out their best; values education and character development through traditional tales.

Libraries Unlimited. 267p. bibliog. index. c2003. 1-56308-934-3. $28.00. A

As more and more school systems are adding "character education" to their curricula, book approval committees are finding that the number of new titles on value education is swelling. Some of these titles are good and some are not so good. Fortunately, Livo--an educator and storyteller for over 50 years--has written one that is very good. She has collected 50-plus lively folktales from around the world and organized them into 12 thematic sections such as perseverance, respect, responsibility and dealing with bullies--topics and issues that align well with ones that have been selected for school-wide focus across the nation. An especially helpful feature of the book is the section following each cluster of stories that offers discussion and activity ideas. Most of these are well thought out and will undoubtedly promote some active, critical thinking. (A minor quibble--A few of these ideas are pretty unrealistic for most young people in today's world. For instance, the following, found after the folktales about "Love": Give apples to people on their way to work. Hand out balloons to strangers. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in a drive-through line.)

There is also an "other activity ideas" section at the end of the book with a wealth of suggestions for approaching a pervasive problem to which many schools have given heightened attention since Columbine--bullying. This includes a helpful list of behaviors that might be telltale signs that a child is being bullied, but not telling about it. In addition, there are five pages of creative, mostly doable activity ideas for extending reading of folktales via writing, discussion, artwork, research, and performance. Finally, Livo offers an extensive bibliography and set of Internet resources for parents and teachers looking for more information on character education and more advice on how to talk with children about problematic issues in today's world. The questions and activities are designed, as the author puts it, "not for preaching," and they really will help promote reflection and problem solving among students. While Livo suggests that her book is meant for people of all ages, it is probably ideal for classroom use with young people in upper elementary and middle school. This reviewer, a public school teacher at a middle school where every Friday "homebase" period is dedicated, school-wide, to "character education," will certainly be using some of the shorter stories for discussion on Friday mornings with her class. Gloria Levine Bryant, Teacher, Hoover M.S., Potomac, MD
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Author:Bryant, Gloria Levine
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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