3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The Periodic Table of Character Traits is an engaging book based on the concept that we are “elementally human.” This means we are made up of a collection of traits (elements) used to express ourselves in different ways.
There are two groups of traits: core and destructive. Core traits are the life-giving elements we nurture to help us fulfill our purpose. The destructive traits are elements that will destroy us if we do not remove them from our lives—this book compares them to cancer. Using a Christian approach to the discussions, author Michael Lawson addresses twelve core and six destructive traits in this book. The core traits are honesty, compassion, loyalty, fairness, respectfulness, humility, responsibility, kindness, integrity, love, peace, and faithfulness. The destructive traits are pride, anger, greed, jealousy, envy, and hate.
For over ten years, Lawson has worked with teens and young adults as an assistant youth pastor and coach, and the book reflects his experience with this age group. The writing style and examples are well suited for middle and high school students.
Using the periodic table is a clever approach. In fact, this design is what I like most about the book. Each trait is presented as an element on a periodic table. The “atomic number” is its relative importance: honesty is number one. Each chapter is devoted to one character trait and includes an introduction followed by a story giving practical application. The practical application is where the author’s experience in working with youth is most evident. He uses a variety of ways to challenge the reader to understand and apply each core trait in their lives. The stories range from his own personal experiences to accounts from the Bible.
While the application part of each chapter is excellent, what I dislike most about this book is the inconsistent communication style. For example, in the chapter on fairness, this sentence is part of the introduction: “Perhaps the reason our society cannot stomach pure justice is because justice brazenly and unapologetically pronounces judgment upon actions.” The tone abruptly shifts from a light and casual conversation to a scholarly discussion.
In the introduction to kindness, the author lists seven Greek and five Hebrew words for kindness but does not differentiate them or discuss them further. The next page goes back to the simple, engaging tone characteristic of most of the book. I recommend another round of editing to simplify the language in the introduction sections, particularly in the chapters on fairness, love, peace, and faithfulness.
Given the target audience, I would recommend reading this book as part of a group. The format is perfect for a six- or eight-week book club or Bible study, and a group setting with a facilitator would be ideal for this age group to discuss the stories and reflective questions for these character traits.
I rate The Periodic Table of Character Traits 3 out of 4 stars. There are very few grammatical errors, but a round of editing is recommended to address the inconsistency in the introductions, as mentioned previously. Although the importance of developing (or removing) these traits is universal, this book is written from a Christian viewpoint and would be most effective for those of the Christian faith.
The Periodic Table of Character Traits
View: on Bookshelves