Humanist Society

of New South Wales Inc.

Books about Humanist Ideas Suitable for Primary Students

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Books About: God? Reasoning Celebrations Death Sex

Even though these books may not use the word "humanism" they do explain some of what Humanists believe.

2 April 2009


What About Gods

by Chris Brockman

Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive Amherst, New York, 14228-2197.  1978.

A booklet with black and white pictures explaining about myths, science and reason, religions, religious promotion. It ends by urging the reader to think.

"The Tree of Life: The Wonders of Evolution".

By Ellen Jackson

Published by Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, in 1993.

Ellen Jackson was a kindergarten teacher and has written this book which little children will enjoy having read to them. There are some long words like 'evolution', 'torrents', 'splashed', 'flickering', 'millions', 'appeared', 'dividing', 'reproduce', 'occured', 'microscopic', 'marvellous', 'amphibians', 'creatures', 'represented', 'conditions', 'continents', 'primates', and 'weapons' so a little help will probably be needed by younger children.
Early humans covered with hair appear in one picture on the second last page, that reflects the time spans of evolution, and it gives an indication that the book is about the origin of life rather than the origin of humans.
Every double page is a tonal picture with a little text - all shades of grey.
The book is scientifically accurate and quite simply explained but these are hard concepts and are unlikely to be grasped by young children without help. Children of about 8 or 9 should be able to understand most of it.

reviewed by Ann Young
February 2009

Note to parents: evolution is the way to explain the wonder of our human and the world's existence. Note this phrase by David Edwards writing in the International Humanist News February 2009 published by the IHEU, "... a central concept within Darwin's synthesis is the emergence of complex behaviour from simple systems" [our emphasis].

Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong : a guide for young thinkers.

by Dan Barker

Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York, 14228-2197.  1992

A comic book about fighting, death, and "bad" rules. It says "life is valuable, respect the rights of others, be fair, be honest.

A black and white picture book explaining the difference between rules and principles, about conflicting principles, commandments, and morality.

Just Pretend: a freethought book for children.

by Dan Barker

Freedom From Religion Foundation, P.O.Box 750, Madison, Wisconsin, 53701.  1988

Some people believe in Santa Claus and some people believe in god. This books shows the mistakes these people are making in the way they think. Atheists say that whether you are good or bad depends on what you do not on what you think. Atheists say that god is just pretend and if you could prove that there was a god then there would be no atheists. Remember you are the boss of your own mind and you can work out what is true. With black and white pictures.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No: a guide for young skeptics.

by Dan Barker

Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York, 4228-2197.  1990

A black and white comic book telling how a young Skeptic investigates a haunted house. Then the books explains how to be a good scientist.

Note: you can order Prometheus books from us. Abbey's Bookshops carry a few titles and are willing to order specific titles for you.

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The Philosophers' Club

by Christopher Phillips and illustrated by Kim Doner.

Tricycle Press, Toronto, Canada, 2001. Hard cover, big coloured pictures.

Questions     Questions     Questions

Philosophy is the study of "Why?" - or the study of reasons. Asking questions helps you to become reasonable.

Humanism is having reasons but religions are about having faith or belief. Humanism is not spoken about in this book.

The questions and the colourful big pictures in the book will help you start reasoning or philosophising.

(This book models Socratic dialogue for children. Download the free readers' guide Christopher Phillips has an M.A. in Philosophy for Children. He also initiates Socratic Cafes. )

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Celebrations secular style

The Winter Solstice

by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis.

Millbrook Press, US, 1994.
Available through FISH or
Paperback with pictures in many colours.

Near the end of this beautiful book it shows why daylight gets longer in summer and shorter in winter as the Earth tilts.

22nd December in Australia is the day with the longest daylight. In the northern part of the Earth it is the shortest day. It is called the solstice. 22nd June is the opposite solstice.

Humanists often have a party at solstice. Christians call the December solstice Christmas. People have been having parties at solstice for a very long time. In this book you can find out about Stonehenge in England, about how ancient Romans hid coins in puddings, about Yuletide and about Indian parties in North American and Peru.

The pictures and patterns in the book are a joy.

Humanism is not spoken about but the book does tell you why Humanist think solstice is a good time to have a party.

If you can read big words like "ceremonies" and "mistletoe" and you know what "ritual" means, you will like this book.

The Winter Solstice

by Karen I Shragg and illustrated by Heidi Schwabacher.

Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York, 14228-2197 2001
Paperback, big print, black and white pictures.

Jenny's parents do not believe in a god who created the world and made rules about how to live. Jenny's neighbours celebrate Christmas (for Christians), Hanukah (for Jews), or Kwansaa ( for African Americans). Jenny would like to have a party too. Jenny's Library teacher helps her find a book about the many ways different people have celebrated at the winter solstice. Jenny decides to decorate a little pine tree in a pot.

The pine tree comes from Norfolk Island. I wonder whether Karen Shragg who wrote this book, knows where Norfolk Island is? There is no snow in December in Norfolk Island or almost anywhere else in Australia. That is our summer when we have our longest day or summer solstice. This book is about December in America.

Because Karen Shragg is American she spells "neighbour" and some other words, the American way.

Jenny's parents are probably Humanists although the book does not actually say so, and they explain clearly what they do and do not believe in. While the book seems to be a story about how Jenny decides to decorate a solstice tree, much of the book is spoken by Jenny's mother explaining her beliefs.

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About Death

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

by Judith Viorst

Collins, St James Place, London.  1971

When Barney, the cat, dies his child gives him a funeral and has to think of ten good things about Barney. He wonders whether Barney is in heaven or whether he is just helping to grow flowers. With black and white pictures.

Hey, Little Ant

by Phillip and Hannah Hoose and illustrated by Debbie Tilley.

Tricycle Press, California, 1998. Hard cover, stunning coloured pictures.

Should the ant get squished? Think about it.

There is a song called "Hey, Little Ant". The music is at the end of the book.

Humanists have to work out the right things to do for themselves. This book does not say what Humanists think or should think.

The pictures in this book help us to think about the problem of killing living beings.

Very easy to read.

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Books about Sex

Bellybuttons Are Navels

by Mark Schoen

Prometheus Books, 700 East Amherst Street, Buffalo, New York, 14215, 716-837-2475

This is a colourful picture book for very little children to teach them the right words for different parts of the human body.

Girls Are Girls and Boys Are Boys: So What's the Difference?

by Sol Gordon

Prometheus Books,700 East Amherst Street, Buffalo, New York, 14215, 716-837-2475  1991

Girls wear pink and boys wear blue. Right?
This book explains how girls become mothers and boys become fathers.
It explains sex and sex roles with black and white pictures.

A Better Safe Than Sorry Book: a family guide for sexual assault prevention.

by Sol and Judith Gordon

Prometheus Books, 700 E. Amherst Street, Buffalo, New York, 14215,716-837-2475.  1992

No-one should touch your private parts except yourself and you shouldn't touch anyone else's. If this happens TELL because it's not your fault. TELL! This book explains how you could be tricked. It is for children 3 to 9. Black and white pictures.

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