Dr. Thomas Lickona is a developmental psychologist and the founding director of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility). He has spent 40 years at SUNY Cortland as a professor of childhood education. The author of eight books on the subject, he has been called "the father of modern character education."

Lickona is a huge believer in the important practice of kindness which has three dimensions: feelings for other people, a desire to promote their happiness, and an inner goodness as its source. He notes that the family is the cradle of learning and the first school of virtue. These days there is more pressure on families, schools, and churches given the toxic nature of violence, anger, incivility, economic inequality, and dread. Lickona is convinced that the antidote for this cultural crisis is the creation of a positive family culture where "virtues like kindness and respect are talked about, modeled, upheld, celebrated, and practiced in everyday life."

Among the changes and challenges that kids should undergo are discovering ways to become more responsible, spending less screen time alone and more time with family members, and diligently expanding the circle of love and compassion to those who need these gifts of grace.

We were glad to see Lickona's recommendation of 16 films to inspire youth to serve others (including Gandhi, The Spitfire Grill, Selma, Up, and Wonder). A list of books that teach kindness and other virtues are in Appendix B. Best of all is the author's character quotations on the 10 essential virtues: wisdom, justice, fortitude, self-control, love/kindness, positive attitude, hard work, integrity, gratitude, and humility.