The Golden Rule

Title: The Golden Rule
Authors: Ilene Cooper
Publisher: Abrams Books
Type: Picture Book
Level: Elementary

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper is a precious tale about how different cultures through the ages have used the same good-neighbor rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

A grandfather and his grandson spot a billboard that reads: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When the boy asks his mentor what that means, it sparks a conversation about the Golden Rule. Why is it golden and whom is it for?

Grandpa offers examples of the rule in action, reinforcing the concept that practicing the Golden Rule “begins with you” and extends to the community and, ultimately, the world.

Over several beautifully-illustrated pages, Grandpa shares with his prodigy the wording of this universal rule across different religions, opening up a myriad of extension possibilities in the classroom for reflective discussions, essay-writing, and cultural studies.

I ordered six-inch golden rulers for my students and had them imprinted with the message: “We measure our character by the Golden Rule.” Ask students what the saying means. Then ask questions like, “Why do you think the Golden Rule is a good rule to follow?” and “Can you think of a rule you wouldn’t want or be able to follow?”

Students can enjoy even more enrichment by looking for other ways of saying the Golden Rule (how did Aristotle or Confucius say it?) or by rewording and then illustrating it themselves. To follow up the lesson, recite this poem, substituting the name of your school:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, you’ve got to give it to get it, yeah, that’s the key. We live by the Golden Rule, you see, at Westwood Elementary.

Barbara Gruener is a school counselor at Westwood Elementary in Friendswood, TX, a finalist in the 2009 CEP National School of Character Award.

Learn more about Westwood’s CHARACTER COUNTS! program.