Wondering Aloud: Philosophy With Young People

“Shivers”

Arnold Lobel is probably my favorite children’s book author, and a master at generating philosophically suggestive narratives. The Frog and Toad books, in particular, are full of stories that raise many puzzles about life and experience. One of my favorites is the story “Shivers,” in Days With Frog and Toad. Frog tells Toad a ghost […]

Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream

Dreaming is a source of fascination for most children, and the topic can lead to examinations of questions about knowledge, and the relationship between reality and experience. Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream is Alan Baker’s picture book about the hamster Benjamin, who one night decides to get up and have a snack when he can’t sleep. Quickly, all kinds […]

Children Make Terrible Pets

Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown’s picture book about a young bear, Lucy, who one day notices a small boy hiding in the bushes and watching her. Lucy thinks the boy is adorable, calling him “Squeaker” because he “makes funny sounds.” She asks her mother, who reluctantly acquiesces, if she can keep Squeaker as a […]

Children’s rights

The book For Every Child, published in 2001 in association with Unicef, with text by Caroline Castle and a forward by Archbiship Desmond Tutu, lists some of the rights enumerated in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, in accessible language and with magnificent illustrations by 14 different artists. For example, the rights […]

Does everything have a right to live?

In a fourth grade class at Whittier Elementary School yesterday, we read chapter 3 of Standing Up to Mr. O by Claudia Mills, and the children asked the question, “Does everything have a right to live?” Most of the children responded initially that they thought that everything did have a right to life. Here is an excerpt […]

Exciting Initiatives for 2013-14!

How can summer be over already? The compensation is all of the exciting projects going on this fall! In the Northwest:The first philosopher-in-residence program in Seattle begins at John Muir Elementary School this month – http://depts.washington.edu/nwcenter/aboutuwphilosophersintheschools.html#residence The first Washington State High School Ethics Bowl will be held at the University of Washington on Saturday February 1 […]

I’m a Frog!

I’m a Frog is another gem of a picture book by Mo Willems, published this year. It’s one of a series of books about best friends Piggie and Elephant Gerald. Willems’ books are clever and thoughtful, and frequently philosophically provocative. In I’m a Frog, Piggie tells Gerald that she is a frog. Gerald perplexed, responds, “I […]

Just Pretend

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, by Geoffrey Hayes, is an early-reader graphic novel about two siblings and the efforts of the younger child, Penny, to join her brother in “playing pretend.” Constructing pretend worlds is part of many children’s childhoods – I remember when my children wouldn’t answer me unless I addressed them as […]

Loveykins

In this picture book by former British Children’s Laureate Quentin Blake, after a very windy night Angela finds a baby bird who has fallen from his nest. She takes him home and cares for him, feeding him, bundling him in warm blankets so he doesn’t catch cold, and naming him Augustus. She buys a stroller […]

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

The nature of sadness. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book describes how sadness feels and tries to understand it. “Sometimes sad is very big. It’s everywhere. All over me.” Michael Rosen’s son, Eddie, died, and that, he tells us, is what makes him most sad. “Sometimes I’m sad and I don’t know why. It’s just a cloud […]

Picture Books and Aesthetics

I write a lot about picture books and the role they can play in encouraging children to develop their philosophical thinking. I’ve been thinking about the special role of picture books for inspiring inquiry about aesthetics. Picture books are a unique mixture of literature and visual art, and generate the discovery of meaning through a […]

Summer philosophy seminar for high school teachers

For the first time this summer, there will be a teaching and learning seminar for high school teachers at the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT) Conference. The seminar will be funded by the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), the American Philosophical Association (APA), and AAPT. The AAPT Conference is a well-regarded biennial family-friendly event […]

The 60-Second Philosopher

Andrew Pessin’s The 60-Second Philosopher is a series of 60 very short chapters (each two pages) that provide ideas for thinking about a wide range of philosophical topics (time, color, various ethical questions, knowledge, free will, etc.). The first chapter, “The Philosopher Within You,” begins: There’s the legend of the fish who swam around asking […]

Two New PLATO Initiatives!

I’ve written before about PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), a national organization that advocates and supports introducing philosophy to K-12 students. Two exciting new projects: a high school essay contest – see here – and annual awards for elementary, middle and high school teachers – see here. Lots of progress in the movement to […]