University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni

Field of Philosophy: Aesthetics

Plot Summary: Matthew is the only child of two mice, and the family is very poor. One day, Matthew’s class visits an art museum, and Matthew is overwhelmed by the variety of paintings. “The world is all here,” he thinks. Back at home, he becomes more aware of “the gray dreariness of his attic corner.” Then he looks at it in a new way, seeing the shapes and colors and images that resided there, and he decides to become a painter.

Some discussion questions:

Are having experiences like visiting museums and looking at art necessary to becoming an artist?
Do you have to have knowledge about art to be an artist?
How does one develop the ability to express artistically one’s way of seeing the world?
What is inspiration?
How does artistic inspiration happen?
What makes someone an artist?