This book is really very applicable in todays world, though written over a 150 years ago. I suppose that is because it's tapping into something that is age old, the relationship between a mother and her children. Really the relationship between any adult and any children. Some of the circumstances used as evidence, and some of the reasoning may be out of date, but the principles are timeless.
The quote under the title sums it up wonderfully.
"Do you ask then what will educate your son. Your example will educate him, your conversation, the business he sees you transact, the likings and dislikings you express, these will educate him, the society you live in will educate him. -Mrs Barlauld"
I can't say that I agree with everything in this book, but I do agree with that quote.
It begins in the beginning, with babies. The first paragraph is one of my favorites, "Few people think that the management of very young babes has anything to do with their future dispositions and characters; yet I believe it has more influence than can easily be calculated." -page 1
It gradually makes it's way through childhood, Developing the Bodily Senses, Development of the Affections, Cultivation of Intellect, Amusements and Employments, Religion, Views of Death, Politeness, Beauty, Gentility, Teens, and all the way to, Views of Matrimony.
"I, at this moment, recollect an anecdote, which plainly shows that politeness cannot be shuffled on at a moment's warning, like a garment long out of use. A worthy, but somewhat vulgar woman, residing in a secluded village, expected a visit from strangers of some distinction. On the spur of the occasion, she called her children together, and said, 'After I have dressed you up, you must sit very still, till the company comes; and then you must be sure to get up and make your bows and courtesies; and you must mind and say "Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am" — "Yes, sir," and "No, sir" — "I thank you." 'The visitors arrived — and the children, seated together 'like four and twenty little dogs all of a row,' uprose at once, bobbed their bows and courtesies, and jabbered over, ' Yes, ma'am, No, ma'am, yes, sir, no, sir, I thank you — There, mother, now we've done it!'" -page 110
And I can't really say anything else, if that last bit doesn't get you interested, well I guess, you'd probably not enjoy this book.
You can read this book online at Google Books.