In an age where people's views of the world are, unfortunately, often tinged with cynicism and contempt, Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is a refreshing break. In his compilation of brief essays, Fulghum takes a good-natured look at people and their habits, thoughts, and feelings.
Each chapter contains a short and witty or touching anecdote about an ordinary person. The characters are not celebrities, wealthy people, or people who have performed some magnificent feat of courage or greatness. The personages usually exhibit some small display of kindness and decency; through these people the book makes points about the human spirit that are so rudimentary that we often forget them.
The stories relay basic ideas about relationships, self-respect and respect for others, about perseverance, and honesty-- about the tendencies of humankind in general. Although some of the ideas presented may, at times, appear somewhat ingenuous, the book is optimistic and heartening, for Fulghum believes that people are basically honest and "good" at heart. The writing is philosophy made simple, which makes for a light and enjoyable book. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.