13 Diverse Children's Books That Send Kids On A Philosophical Quest

13 Diverse Children's Books That Send Kids On A Philosophical Quest


Children are natural philosophers, constantly questioning the world around them with a curiosity that fuels their thirst to uncover life's little mysteries.

In this blog post, we delve into a deep reaching, mostly diverse selection of children's picture books that open astonishing portals to philosophical thinking. To awaken your kid's inner Plato, we offer questions that go way beyond just comprehension. They offer new perspectives that let children explore the realm of their own wisdom. 

Check out our T-shirt designs 'Li'l Wisdom Seeker' and 'Just a Kid with a Mastermind' to amplify your kiddos mental powers as they explore this book list!

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"Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong'o

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Questions: What would you say to Sulwe to help her feeling good about herself? How important is it to see your own beauty? The book talks about Sulwe finding her inner light. What does this metaphorical concept mean to you? How can we nurture our inner light and let it shine brightly? How can be two opposites (day and night) be a union? What happened when this unity broke up? How did Sulwe feel about her dark skin when this unity came back together? What does balance has to do with opposites?

"The Word Collector" by Peter H. Reynolds

While not explicitly philosophical, this book introduces the power of words and the concept that language holds incredible potential. It subtly encourages children to think about the impact of words and the ideas they convey.

Questions: Why are there words? What is the power that lies within words? Can words be dangerous? How do words make Jerome feel, why did he choose words to collect? How does the book inspire us to be creative and imaginative with language? What can we create with words? Are there any things that words cannot express? Can some emotions or experiences be difficult to express with words alone? Is it silly or smart to collect words?


"Radiant Child" by Javaka Steptoe

The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat" This Caldecott Medal-winning book introduces children to the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It emphasizes themes of creativity, self-expression, and the transformative power of art and introduces young readers to the powerful message that art doesn't always have to be neat or inside the lines to be beautiful.

Questions: Why would people call him a free spirit? What do you think he was trying to communicate about himself and the world around him? From his art style can we learn what kind of person he was? What can we learn from his determination to express himself freely? Can sloppy and weird be beautiful? What are the benefits from thinking outside of the box?

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Cassie Louise Lightfoot has a dream: to be free to go wherever she wants for the rest of her life. One night, up on “tar beach,” the rooftop of her family’s Harlem apartment building, her dreams come true. The stars lift her up, and she flies over the city, claiming the buildings and the city as her own.

Questions: How empowered is Cassie when she is flying? Can you see yourself being that powerful? How is the family different in everyday life from when they are on the rooftop? What is the connection of an actual beach and the rooftop in this book? What can we learn from Cassie's ability to see beyond the ordinary? How does owning something can give you freedom? Cassie is determined to make her dreams a reality. How can we cultivate these qualities in ourselves? Cassie gave her parents carefreeness in her imagination. Do you think children can "save" their parents in any way?


"The Dot" by Peter H Reynolds 

Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw - she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. "There!" she says.
That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. 

Questions: Is everybody creative? Have you ever felt unsure about something you wanted to do? How did you overcome your self-doubt? Have you ever turned a mistake into something positive, or something that you liked in the end? What does the teacher know about art that Vashti didn't yet? What did Vashti's experimenting taught her about herself? Is it hard to inspire others?



"Last Stop on Market Street" by Matt de la Peña

This award-winning modern classic—a must-have for every child’s home library—is an inclusive ode to kindness, empathy, gratitude, and finding joy in unexpected places, and celebrates the special bond between a curious young boy and his loving grandmother.

Question: How good is it to compare yourself to others? Do you think our family and upbringing influence the way we see the world? How does the book encourage us to find joy and happiness in simple moments? How does Nana always try to teach CJ to see the bigger, positive picture? How can you be more positive, if you don't have Nana by your side to remind you? Where did you see or find joy today?

"What Do You Do with an Idea" by Kobi Yamada

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child's confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who's ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. 

Questions: Do you think ideas are something you can touch? Can they be shared and spread? Where do ideas come from? In the book, why are there always animals around the idea?  How can children's ideas, no matter how small, contribute positively to their communities? Are there good and bad ideas, how do you know? Why did the illustrator choose an egg? Can your idea make you grow?

"Albert's impossible toothache" by Barbara Williams

Albert, a turtle, complains that he has a toothache. His family points out that he has no teeth, and so he cannot have a toothache. "You never believe me," Albert protests, and he takes to his bed. His parents and siblings lament that Albert is not telling the truth. Finally, his grandmother arrives, and asks Albert, "Where is your toothache?" Albert tells her that it is in his toe, where a gopher bit him.

Questions: Is it possible that imagination can feel real? How do we know we are talking about the same thing? How do we know we understand each other? Were both sides right? Just because something has never happened before, it is impossible? Can you be saying something that is not true and not be lying? Is it a lie if I truly believe it? Who says what is true? Do people believe adults more easily than children?

"The Year We Learned to Fly" by Jaqueline Woodson

In this picture book, two siblings must use their imaginations and fly well beyond their brilliant minds and dream to see a world that awaits them. They are given solid advice by their grandmother: Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing.

Questions: Can boredom have a good effect? does it mean to fly? What is the relationship between our thoughts and our actions? How can imagination help in facing difficulties and envisioning change? What relationships do we have to our ancestors and to future generations? Can difficult situations bring out new, creative things? How does imagination play a role in healing and self-expression? Can I do anything in your imagination? 

"Beekle" by Dan Santat

Beekle's magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and--at long last--is given his special name: Beekle.

Questions: Can imagination become real? Do thoughts exist before they came into somebody's mind? Do imaginary friends do whatever we want them to do or do they have minds of their own? Can adults have imaginary friends or just children? Is the interaction between Beekle and Alice real or imagined?


Amazing Grace

Grace loves stories, whether they're from books, movies, or the kind her grandmother tells. When her school decides to perform Peter Pan, Grace longs to play the lead, but her classmates point out that Peter was a boy. Besides, he wasn't black. With the support of her family, Grace learns that she can be anything she wants to be, and the results are amazing!

Questions: How can other people's opinions shape our mind? Should I ignore what other people think of me? Are there any rules when Grace was acting out on her own? Why does Grace have so much fun pretending? What does it mean to be true to yourself. How much does it matter to stick to the usual? What happens if we break the usual? Why is free Self-expression so important for us? Do you have a goal you are determined to reach? Would have Grace played Peter Pan if her family wouldn't have cared?

How Many Stars in the Sky? by Lenny Hort

Mama's away one night, and her son can't sleep. He tries to relax by counting stars, but the more of them he sees, the more determined he is to count every single one. Then the boy finds that Daddy can't sleep either. Together, the two of them set off on an unforgettable all-night journey of discovery.

Questions: Do we always need an answer? Are there questions with many answers? How much can we rely on others to our own question? How do you think about the concept of infinity? Can something truly be infinite, or is there always a limit?  How does contemplating the scale of the universe make you feel? When you look at the night sky what questions arise within you?

Let's do nothing by Tony Fucile

Frankie and Sal, who decide that they have "done it all," try to think of what's left to do. Then a brilliant idea emerges. Frankie exclaims, "Let's do nothing!" All throughout the day, Frankie and Sal try to do nothing, but actually, doing nothing appears to be a lot harder than they had imagined. Can they really ever do nothing?

Questions: Is it impossible to do nothing if you’re alive? What exactly is nothing?
Can “nothing” exist? How would you describe boredom to somebody who never felt it before? What would you do to do nothing? Think about emptiness, silence or stillness. How do Frankie and Sal find joy in simple things?




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