Understanding Humanism

Books and other resources

Online resources

We have two free online courses that provide a great introduction to humanism.

Our Humanist Heritage website reveals the hidden history of humanist thought and action in the UK and its influence on the modern world.

For introductory books on humanism try…

For further reading that has influenced humanist thinking, we would recommend exploring the writings of Epicurus, Lucretius, David Hume, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin, John Rawls, George Eliot, EM Forster, Bertrand Russell, AJ Ayer, Carl Sagan, and AC Grayling.

Other books

  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress (Allen Lane) by Steven Pinker describes the impact of humanism on human progress.
  • Humankind: A Hopeful History (Blooomsbury) by Ruger Bregman provides a very positive account of the positive side of human nature.
  • Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (OUP) by Andrew Copson
  • For humanist essays on the value of life, art, the environment, and freedom see Is Nothing Sacred (Routledge) edited by Ben Rogers
  • For a collection of essays on dialogue between the religious and non-religious see Religion and Atheism (Routledge) edited by Richard Norman and Anthony Carroll
  • For an exploration of the reasons people in the West are becoming less religious see Becoming Atheist (Bloomsbury) by Callum Brown
  • For humanist perspectives on education see A Theory of Moral Education (Routledge) by Michael Hand, and The War for Children’s Minds (Routledge) by Stephen Law
  • We’d also recommend A Short History of Truth: Consolations for a Post-Truth World (Quercus) by Julian Baggini

For educators looking to encourage philosophical, critical, and creative thinking and questioning, we’d also recommend…

  • The Little Book of Thunks (Crown House Publishing) by Ian Gilbert
  • Games, Stories, and Poems for Thinking (Nash Pollock Publishing) by Robert Fisher
  • Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong (Prometheus Books UK) by Dan Barker
  • The If Machine: Philosophical Enquiry in the Classroom (Continuum) by Peter Worley (and other books by the Philosophy Foundation)

Books for children

  • What is humanism? How do I live without a god? And other big questions for kids (Wayland) by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young (ages 8-14)
  • Atheism for Kids (Winter House Books) by Jessica Thorpe is a short introduction for yougner children to what it means to be an atheist.
  • And for young adults we recommend The Young Atheist’s Handbook by Alom Shaha.

For more books for children, including recommended fiction, books to support discussions about death, and non-fiction on science, philosophy, and other themes see our Recommended Books for Children.

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Understanding Humanism

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