Philosophy through children’s books

Today was a pd day at school (professional developement) which meant that I had to work, but there were no students. We had a presentation on how to have philosophical discussions with kids. I was kind of skeptical at first, because the children I work with are ages 6 to 9. How can you have a philosophical discussion when they’re always saying “That’s not fair”, no matter what the subject is?

However, I was pleasantly surprised. We were told to start with children’s books, and go from there. This was very interesting to me because I think most adults could benefit from reading more children’s books.

One was about a duck and a rabbit who are next door neighbors, yet never stop to say hello. They see each other in the morning and in the evening, but don’t talk to each other. It’s called Si près, which translates to So close. It’s about how they could be friends, but they’re not. It ends with pictures of what it would be like if only they stopped and talked.

This was interesting to me because since I have started blogging, I’ve been connecting with people all over the world, yet I have never met my neighbors. I live my life, they live theirs. We live side by side, but never connect. I think, unless you live in a small town, like where I grew up, this is true for many people. We are all so close, yet so far apart.

Another book that I liked was about life and death, which can be a heavy subject with kids. However, this story was about two little boys who find a bug. They’re very happy and look it up on the Internet to find out more about it. They are very sad to learn that it only lives for one day. They decide to give it the best day they can think of, so they play pirates, go to the circus, watch a movie, etc. At the end, the bug dies and they are sad, but happy it had a good life.

We had to come up with philosophical questions to ask the kids after reading this book. We decided on these:

– Why is there death?

– Why is there life?

– What is beauty? (The boys find their bug beautiful.)

– What makes a good life?

– What’s more important, a good life or a long life?

I am looking forward to discussing this with my students, because although they are small, they are capable of very interesting thoughts and reflexions (other than, “That’s not fair!”) They often will see things that adults miss. I find these questions very interesting for adults as well.

When I was in college, I had to take philosophy classes and I did not appreciate it at all. I couldn’t really understand what it was all about, and it never really interested me. I’m very happy I can now start looking for answers to life’s questions between the pages of children’s books. Stop and read one, you never know what you will discover!