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How: A Day in the Life of A Young Humanist - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published February 22nd 2017
An Inquisitive Humanist asks "how should I live my life?"
How: A Day in the Life of A Young Humanist, Michelle Iturrate, Steven Rogers, books about humanism for kids, humanist books for kids, humanist children's books, secular children's books

A child has a big question: "How should I live my life?" Their mother replies that this is a good opportunity to use the scientific method; make a hypothesis and then test it. The child's hypothesis is that life would be more fun as a naughty kid because being good is hard work. They test this by resolving not to do any more homework, littering, picking wildflowers even though a sign says not to, and deliberately crushing a grasshopper and some wild mushrooms. On reflection the child considers that littering and picking wildflowers make the environment around them less pleasant, that other animals might have feelings too and that kids who don't do their homework are unlikely to do well enough in school to go on to become scientists. They resolve instead to be good, make themselves feel proud and become a scientist and discover amazing things.

This book would be worth reading for the illustrations alone, because they are gorgeous. Created by illustrator Steven Rogers, they are colourful paintings that show the beauty of nature as the child is exploring. The author's website says that the child is a boy, but I couldn't tell that from the illustrations, and I know little girls who dress the same way so I don't like to make assumptions. The way it's written the child is never referred to as a boy in the text, which makes the book more inclusive to young readers of either sex.

The story is simply told from a child's perpective, and encourages children to question and reason for themselves. It cleverly tackles one of the biggest questions in life without reference to religion. The author, Michelle Iturrate, says she wrote it because she was troubled by the belief that non-believers have no reason to behave morally. She was inspired after reading Imagine There's No Heaven- A Letter to the Six Billionth World Citizen by Salman Rushdie. The back of the book contains definitions of the terms "scientific method", "evolution" and "humanist".

How: A Day in the Life of a Young Humanist is a beautifully illustrated children's book that will appeal to adults too. It's a clever way to get across some challenging themes to young people, and is suitable for children aged five and up.

Published: April 2015 by Young Humanist Books
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Why? To help kids think about one of the big questions in life
Cost: $15.99 from the Book Depository
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