Sunday, 17 August 2014

15 books to get you thinking...

There are many books that are available to use with children to encourage critical thinking - here are 15 books, familiar and maybe less familiar, to get you going, and to get you thinking about the book/story choices you are making...

Not a Stick
Not a Box - both by Antoinette Portis...

Maybe a thinking book for the adults as much as the children... to see the possibilities in everyday objects... the books can be read - and then a stick passed around and the children share what it is for them... with support from the story, and also their own imaginations...

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

A way to talk about how we use nature, about friendship.

The Day the Crayons Quit - Oliver Jeffers

Can colours be used in new ways? Are the crayons justified in their feelings? What colour is the sun... etc

Flotsam - David Wiesner
an image from the book Flotsam by David Wiesner
A book with no words but absolutely beautiful images. What happens to the camera, how many years has it been used? Can marine animals take photographs? etc

Tell me a picture - Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake's quirky characters help us see details and ask questions about various works of art - going through the alphabet by artist.

Where did the dragons go? Fay Robinson

There are so many stories about dragons... did they exist for real... if they did where are they now... do you think dragons and children could be friends, why couldn't the adults?

A world of Food - Carl Warner

A book of scenes made in food. What would it be like to live in a candy world, or a world made only of food. Would it be OK for people to start eating your home?

I am the King - Leo Timmers

Allows the children to talk about leadership and rules...

Journey - Aaron Becker

Another wordless story with beautiful images... reminds you a little of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. What would you draw if you were given a magic crayon.... and why?

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig - Eugene Trivizas

I love all books that take a traditional story and change the perspective. In fact all the traditional stories work great for getting the children to start thinking of alternative endings, to think about the idea of goodies and baddies , to attempt to look at the story from the perspective of both...

How to live forever - Colin Thompson

A book to explore the ideas of immortality... it is important to read books first, especially if you are wanting to lift a vertain question... it might influence how much of the story you read to the children before asking the question... sometimes it can be good to pause mid-story, or just before the end, or even shortly after getting started. Reading the whole story is not always essential, using the book as a stimulus to thinking can have it's benefits - it will encourage the children to use their own imaginations.

The Tin Forest - Helen Ward

A look at nature and rubbish that is dumped... recycling ideas too, and the importance of caring about our planet. Could stimulate the children to start constructing their own animals and forest with junk.

How to see Fairies Brian Froud and John Matthews

Question after question about how fairies are usually viewed - are they big, small, how do you see them "Sometimes far away is near and sometimes small is big. Sometimes things you are told aren't true - it all depends on YOU". Lots of beautiful images. It does have flaps, fold outs etc... so it needs to be a book that is handled carefully for it to survive.

Resources for teachers...
to get you thinking about how storybooks/stories can be used in connection with philosophy/critical thinking check out the following

Why think by Sara Stanley
Big Ideas for Little Kids by Wartenberg


  1. I try and read a blog post or two in the morning before I start getting ready. I find them all very insprational and am trying to build up on my own knowledge to use with the children. Since I am a reliever (waiting for a permanent post ) I don't get to have a class everyday, but I end up helping other teachers, observe what they do and take in what I like. Would love to find a place where I can be more free and creative with the children. Maybe its time to start looking offshore ūüôĄ, something hubby and I have been thinking a lot on lately :) . Anyways enough of my ranting! Great inspiring posts! I love reading your blog, thank you

  2. Chalk by Bill Thompson is also a wonderful book, it has no words, the pictures are amazing, and the story is wonderful. It is right up there with Not A Stick/Box and most books by Herve Tullet.