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

Field of Philosophy: Ethics; Social and Political Philosophy;

Plot Summary: Swimmy is a little black fish, born a different color than the rest of his school of small red fish. One day Swimmy’s school is eaten by a large tuna fish. Scared and sad, Swimmy travels alone and sees many beautiful things, meeting all kinds of sea creatures, until he finds a school of red fish like his own. The red fish are too afraid of being eaten to go exploring with Swimmy, until Swimmy suggests that they all swim close together to look like one big fish, with Swimmy as the eye.

Some discussion questions:

Is Swimmy scared when his school of fish are eaten? What does he do?
Is Swimmy brave? If so, what makes him brave?
Is Swimmy afraid of all the new creatures he encounters? Why or why not?
Does Swimmy like being alone?
Is a school of fish a community?
What makes a community a community?
Are the members of a community responsible for one another? If so, how?
How does Swimmy help his new school of red fish? Does he feel responsible for them?