Philosophy and Children’s Literature

Philosophy Through Children’s Books

These literature lesson plans are geared toward elementary school age students, some more particularly for younger elementary school students and some for older students. All of these books can also be used with middle and high school students, with adaptations of the questions. The lesson plans all suggest questions to consider when reading the stories listed here. These questions are not meant to be inclusive—they are possibilities for questions that can inspire philosophical exchanges, based on questions that have come from students when discussing these books. The lists of possible discussion questions are meant to provide some ideas for teachers preparing to use these books to help generate classroom philosophical conversations, but should not replace asking the students what questions the stories raise for them and ensuring that the discussions emerge from the students’ questions.

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A Bad Case of Stripesby: David Shannon
A Bargain for Frances by: Russel Hoban
The Bear that Wasn’tby: Frank Tashlin
The Big Boxby: Toni Morrison
The Big Orange Splotby: Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Birdby: Zetta Elliott
Boodil My Dogby: Pija Lindenbaum


Charlotte’s Webby: E.B. White
Chrysanthemumby: Kevin Henkes
The Coatby: Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks
A Color of His Ownby: Leo Lionni
The Conductorby: Laëtitia Devernay


Double Troubleby: Philip Cam
The Dream Keeperby: Langston Hughes
Duck, Death and the Tulipby: Wolf Erlbruch


Emily’s Artby: Peter Catalanotto
Emmaby: Wendy Kesselman
Emma’s Rugby: Allen Say
An Extraordinary Eggby: Leo Lionni


Firebirdby: Misty Copeland
First Grade Takes a Testby: Miriam Cohen
Fish On A Walkby: Eva Muggenthaler
The Flat Rabbitby: Bardur Oskarsson
Flowers from Marikoby: Rick Noguchi and Deneen Jenks
For Every Childby: Caroline Castle
Four Feet, Two Sandalsby: Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed
Franklin Fibsby: Paulette Bourgeois
Frederickby: Leo Lionni
Freedom Soupby: Tami Charles
Freedom Summerby: Deborah Diesen


Gastonby: Kelly DiPucchio
The Giving Treeby: Shel Silverstein
Green Eggs and Hamby: Dr. Seuss


Happiness Is a Warm Puppyby: Charles M. Shulz
Happyby: Mies Van Hout
Harold and the Purple Crayonby: Crockett Johnson
Hello, Red Foxby: Eric Carle
The Hermit Crabby: Carter Goodrich
The Holeby: Oyvind Torseter
Horton Hears a Whoby: Dr. Seuss
The Hundred Dressesby: Eleanor Estes


I Am the Dogby: Daniel Pinkwater
If You Give a Mouse a Cookieby: Laura Joffe Numeroff
Inch by Inchby: Leo Lionni
Infinity and Meby: Kate Hosford with illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska
Ishby: Peter Reynolds


Knuffle Bunnyby: Mo Willems


Last Stop on Market Streetby: Matt de la Peña
Let’s Do Nothing!by: Tony Fucile
The Little Brute Familyby: Russel Hoban
The Little Match Girl by: Hans Christian Andersen
The Little Red Henby: Paul Galdone
The Loraxby: Dr. Seuss


Magicby: Philip Cam
Matthew’s Dreamby: Leo Lionni
Morris the Mooseby: B. Wiseman
My Father’s Dragonby: Ruth Stiles Gannett
My Friend the Monsterby: Clyde Robert Bulla


The Obstinate Penby: Frank Dormer
On The Day You Were Bornby: Debra Frasier
On the Verandahby: Philip Cam
The Other Sideby: Jacqueline Woodson
The Other Way to Listen by: Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall


The Paperbag Princessby: Robert Munsch
Peach & Blueby: Sarah S. Kilborne
A Penguin Storyby: Antoinette Portis
The Pout-Pout Fishby: Deborah Diesen
Press Hereby: Hervé Tullet


The Rainbox Fishby: Marcus Pfister
The Real Thiefby: William Steig
The Runaway Bunnyby: Margaret Wise Brown


A Shelter in Our Carby: Monica Gunning
Squareby: Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Standing Up to Mr. Oby: Claudia Mills
Stellalunaby: Janell Cannon
Sulweby: Lupita Nyong’o
Swimmyby: Leo Lionni


The Tale of Peter Rabbitby: Beatrix Potter
The Three Questionsby: Jon J. Muth
To Kill A Mockingbirdby: Harper Lee
Tuck Everlastingby: Natalie Babbit


The Ugly Ducklingby: Hans Christian Andersen


The Velveteen Rabbitby: Margery Williams


We Forgot Brockby: Carter Goodrich
Where the Wild Things Areby: Maurice Sendak
Who is the Beast?by: Keith Baker
Who Wants to be a Prairie Dog?by: Ann Clark and Van Tsihnahjinnie
Why?by: Lindsay Camp and Tony Ross
Wildby: Emily Hughes
The Word Collectorby: Peter H. Reynolds
Worm Loves Wormby: J. J. Austrian
A Wrinkle in Timeby: Madeleine L’Engle


The Year We Learned to Flyby: Jacqueline Woodson
Yellow and Pinkby: William Steig
You Are Stardustby: Elin Kelsey