Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: My Little UU Book of Virtues

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 60 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A loose-leaf binder
  • Loose-leaf paper and writing/drawing instruments
  • Optional: The Book of Virtues by William Bennett (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995)
  • Optional: A computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • Refresh your memory of the stories shared in this program, so you can remind youth about them. Include the stories provided with each workshop as well as dilemmas-provided, and their own-that the youth have discussed.
  • Optional: Obtain The Book of Virtues and choose and bookmark a passage to read aloud. The story "Please" is recommended. You can preview some pages of the book on GoogleBooks; if you will have Internet access, choose a passage to read aloud during the workshop. If you plan to have youth read aloud, choose volunteers and give them the passage ahead of time.

Description of Activity

Youth write short stories about virtues.

Tell the group that in the 1990s William Bennett, a conservative politician, wrote a book called The Book of Virtues. It was a bestseller, but not without controversy. Bennett seemed to blame our country's problems on a lack of true, old-fashioned virtues. The tone of the book is conservative and preachy. His view is very simplistic.

[If you have the book, invite a volunteer to read a story. Then, ask the group if they believe good manners are important. Most will say yes. If you have used a passage from The Book of Virtues, ask if the youth liked the story, and why or why not.


Although we might say some virtues are timeless, stories are not always so. It matters not only what you are trying to communicate, but how you communicate it.

Ask the group if they could think of stories that effectively illustrate how important virtues are today. Invite each participant to think of a virtue and a story that demonstrates it. Show them the binder and explain they will make a collection of stories: "A Little UU Book of Virtues." Their story can be fiction or non-fiction. They can retell a story from one of the workshops. They may use virtues not covered in the workshops. If they prefer, they can work in pairs. Write the story and include at least one illustration.

Distribute paper and writing/drawing implements.

Give participants at least 30 minutes. Then, re-gather the group and have volunteers share stories.

Collect the stories and invite youth to (1) illustrate a front cover, (2) make a Table of Contents, (3) create a blurb for the back cover, and (4) come up with ideas for sharing the book with the wider congregation.