The Family Virtues Guide

Since I’ve written a few blogs recently on pushing, mean girls and bullying, I thought I would introduce a book I used in the late 1990s when my daughter was young.  I wanted to find a way to work with her on caring, kindness and respect.  I learned about The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Kavelin Popov, Ph.D., from teacher friends who used the program in their classrooms in Minnesota.   Dr. Popov founded the The Virtues Project,  in Canada in 1991.  Today the program has ignited a global revolution in 95 countries.  Its mission is to offer multicultural programs and materials which empower people to remember who they are and to live by their highest values.  The project was honored during the International Year of the Family by the United National Secretariat as a model global program for families of all cultures.   

 The book is about virtues, which are universally valued by all faiths and cultures in the world.   The Guide is based on sacred traditions of the world’s religions, yet it does not promote the practices or beliefs of any specific faith.  There are 52 virtues listed in the book including: caring, compassion, consideration, forgiveness,  generosity, helpfulness, kindness, love, respect, responsibility, service, trust, and truthfulness.

I was thrilled with this guide, because it allowed the entire family to take part.  Every day our daughter selected a card from the deck and read it out loud.  If an incident would arise, we might select a card for her.  Her father or I would read the chapter on the virtue from the book and we would discuss it as a family.  And, of course she had her own ideas about what a specific virtue  meant to her.   For instance, if the consideration card was selected for the day, we talked about having respect for other people and their feelings, and thinking about how our actions affect someone else.  We discussed how to practice compassion starting with paying attention to herself and to others.   It meant that she needed to be aware that day at school when someone looked lonely or sad.  Then practice what she learned by doing something nice for the other chid.   For example, befriend a new student, listen to a friend that has been teased, or let someone go first.   At the end of the day during dinner, we’d discuss if we had the opportunity to show compassion.  And, as parents we shared about how we each used the virtue at work.  Some days were more fruitful than others.    It became a game and we had fun with it.    

The book and deck of cards were retired and sat on my book shelf for a few years, until my husband’s daughter was looking for a way to help her very competitive boys get along.   So I passed along my book and cards and she began to use the program with her sons.   It too became a family project.

This also is an outstanding classroom project.  There are instructions at the end of the book about making a Virtues Tree Felt Board.  It has many applications in the classroom and can be used to acknowledge student efforts.  With bullying on the rise, it would be a helpful project to use with young children.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

8 thoughts on “The Family Virtues Guide

  1. Oh, Pat, I just love this resource, thank you so much. How true that across the world’s faiths and philosophical systems we have so many virtues that unite us.

    This sounds like such and embracing message. I love the idea of using it as a family tool; rather than what does the child need to learn, it becomes how can each one of us in the family apply this today? And now you have passed it on to the next generation, awesome!

    i think this is another one for me to suggest to our school librarian 😉


    • Joanna,
      Yes, our family has always been service oriented, and it did become how can we apply a specific virtue at school, work or in the community. I would love to see families and teachers using this program with young children and carry it forward. I like the fact it is based on all sacred traditions, but is not religious in nature. It really is about teaching and helping children live by their highest values — values which are universal. The is a gem of a book and it does emphasize how much more we are alike. Glad you liked the selection.



  2. I was very interested in this post Pat. I was surprised the Virtues Project was only founded in 1991, for some reason I expected it was as early as the 1950’s, ……… I wish it was. When I think of how this could possibly have helped prevented families from splitting up such as mine did. What a wonderful way of nurturing family unity.
    I also tried to find out a bit more about the book but could not find out when it was written. Do you know? Thankyou so much for sharing this Pat.


    • Diane,
      The project was founded in 1991, but the book written in 1997. That’s when I first learned about it at a retreat where a group of teachers were talking about how they used it in their classrooms. All you need to do is click on the link on my page and it will take you to The Virtue Project. The book can be purchased at the site and on Amazon. I too wish suh a project was universally used in schools, because it would help teachers from K-6 address the subject when kids are like sponges. Glad you liked it!



  3. This sounds like such an excellent resource, Pat! (And it was developed in Canada! Yet I’d not been aware of it.) I followed the link to The Virtues Project, did a “Virtues Card Pick” and got to see the card for “Respect”. I was very impressed with what I read. I am also impressed that it isn’t based on any one religion or spiritual worldview, but is more inclusive.

    Thank you for sharing this, Pat. It is indeed good to follow up on the posts about bullying with a positive way of working through such issues. Excellent.


    • Beth,
      Yes, I felt it an appropriate ending to my last few posts. I wanted to offer solutions. I wondered if you were familiar with the project, since it began in Canada. It was very popular when the book came out. That’s why I wanted to mention it again, because it is still such a vital project globally. I too value the fact it is inclusive. And, it is a fun project for families and school children. Not preachy. Instead it challenges kids to think and act in a kind, honest and respectful manner. Wish it was mandatory for schools K-6. I had a feeling you would like the project. Glad you looked at the website.


  4. Pingback: The Children’s Book of Virtues | Ahgoo Review

  5. Pingback: Why Virtue? « creatingreciprocity

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