New Children’s Book Teaches Ethics with Bears and Honey

Fred Bear finds a tasty jar of honey in the forest… what will he do next?

Children grasp the concept “Mine, mine, mine” very well, but they don’t always know how to act when they find something that’s not their own. The new book, Being a Better Bear, What it Means to be Ethical ($12.99 Menlo Imprint), introduces ethical responsibility to children as young as four years old.

“While Aesop, Dr. Suess and others have hit on moral lessons in the children’s genre, rarely do you see a book that tackles ethics head on for children ages 4-6,” says author Dr. Leslie E. Sekerka, the Founding Director of the Ethics in Action Research & Education Center and Professor of Management at Menlo College, Atherton, CA.

The first story in this book series follows young Fred Bear home from school. He stumbles upon an exquisite jar of golden honey and the emotional battle of eating or returning it ensues. His friends on the playground taught him “finders, keepers.” But as Fred explains the situation to Mother Bear at home, he begins to empathize with the owner of the lost honey.

After much consideration and a bowl of macaroni and cheese, Fred Bear realizes “if the shoe was on the other foot,” he would want the honey to be returned to him. At the moment of Fred’s moral epiphany, the victim of the lost honey knocks on the front door, allowing him to return it. Here, a second revelation dawns on Fred Bear, unveiling the moral of the story: being a better bear means thinking of others. In the end, Fred realizes, “While keeping the honey would have tasted good for a moment, doing the right thing feels even better and is the kind of feeling that lasts.”

“I have taken my research on ethical decision-making and moral emotions, along with basic scholarship on how to proceed with moral action, and turned it into a children’s book series using the character of Fred Bear,” Sekerka says. She adds, “The books are designed to help children recognize, understand and deal with the ethical issues they are likely to face in everyday life.”

Being a Better Bear, What it Means to be Ethical is a Menlo Imprint publication and all of its proceeds go to Menlo’s Ethics in Action Research & Education Center. You can order the book online at http://campusstore.menlo.edu/category/faculty-author