GUIDELINES FOR CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE BOOK AND
DEVELOPING YOUR QUESTION SETS
Choosing an appropriate book to use for teaching philosophy is important and requires some thought. We do not try to convince the elementary school children of some idea that we think is correct; rather, we try to evince their ideas and get them to defend them against the criticisms of their peers.
The book that will do this well is not one that teaches a moral, such as stealing is wrong. Instead, it will make a concept that is important to the children and that they think they know about seem strange and in need of analysis. For example, "Dragons and Giants" makes the concept of bravery or courage puzzling, since Frog and Toad say that they are brave even when they don't look very brave. This gives rise to a puzzle: Can you be brave even if you look scared?
So when you choose a book, focus on whether it makes you puzzle over some idea, concept, or belief. Don't look for a lesson you think young children need to learn.
Then, try to develop a set of questions that build on one another and that allow the children to express their ideas about the issue that you think the book raises. The Philosophy for Children webpages contain many examples of such question sets, though not all are of equal quality. You can get an idea of what is expected of you by looking over those examples.
If you still have questions, come see me or Kelly.