How Like An Angel Came I Down

Conversations With Children on the Gospels

A. Bronson Alcott; Edited by Alice O. Howell; Foreword by Stephen Mitchell

Out of print

Quick Look

The words of six- to ten-year-olds on spirit, consciousness, love, humility, conscience, the Holy Ghost and 'the knower'.

230 x 160 mm
Lindisfarne Books
Religion & Spirituality
384 pages
Publication date:
01 Jan 1991


During the 1830s at his school in Boston, Alcott held an extraordinary series of conversations on such themes as spirit, consciousness, love, humility, conscience, the Holy Ghost, and 'the knower'. Those conversations make up this book. Read the words of these six-to ten-year-olds, and allow yourself to learn from their wisdom and hear with wonder what is possible when we approach children with humility and respect.


'I read these conversations with growing enthusiasm and excitement -- what enormous vitality and thoughtfulness a brave and great teacher can encourage in his students. This is a wonderful and extremely important publishing effort -- a book all of us who work with children ought to read carefully and visit often.'
--Robert Coles, author of The Spiritual Life of Children

'Here is one of those priceless, quiet books that we hold up and declare, 'Every parent, every teacher, every lawmaker, should know this work!' followed by the sobering thought that all too few parents and teachers, and perhaps no lawmakers, will. How difficult to explain that the crisis of childhood and education a crisis of the human spirit, and that until the spiritual dimensions of the child is recognized and honored, the crisis can only grow worse.... All these issues aside, Alcott's 'Conversations' is immensely rewarding reading for anyone. It is sheer reading pleasure, enlightenment, insight, the discovery of a side of children many of us never see, a side of ourselves generally masked, a glimpse of history our school texts never touch, and an enrichment of our own spirit. Time and again, it brings a pang of recognition, something long-forgotten tugging beneath our fragmented thoughts. I can only wish the work a wide reading, and will surely do what I can to promote it.'
--Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Magical Child and Evolution's End


Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) was born to an illiterate flax farmer in Wolcott, Connecticut. Profoundly influenced by John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress, he left home at seventeen to become a peddler in Virginia and the Carolinas. After five years, he returned to Connecticut, determined to become an educator. Attracted to Pestalozzi’s innovative child-centered educational ideas, he began a long and varied career as a teacher. Bronson Alcott was singular among the Transcendentalists in boldly embodying his ideals. In his schools he introduced art, music, nature study, field trips, and physical education into the curriculum, while banishing corporal punishment. He encouraged children to ask questions and taught through dialogue and example. When Ralph Waldo Emerson met Alcott in Boston in the late 1830s, he was so impressed with his intellect and innovative ideas that he convinced Alcott to move to Concord and join his circle of friends. Alcott outlived his closest transcendentalist friends, dying on March 4, 1888, just two days before his famous daughter Louisa succumbed to the effects of mercury poisoning. The Concord School of Philosophy closed in July of that year after holding a memorial service honoring Alcott.

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