University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
Print
Find us on Facebook Blogger Twitter Pinterest   

Discussion Questions for Doing Philosophy Using Literature

INTRODUCTION:

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 stories 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.

Index by Book Title
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Index by Field of Philosophy
AestheticsEpistemologyEthicsLogicMetaphysicsPhilosophy of Childhood
Philosophy of EducationPhilosophy of LanguageSocial and Political Philosophy

 

A

Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, “A Mad Tea Party”

Amos & Boris by William Steig

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant

The Araboolies of Liberty Street by Sam Swope

The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola

B

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

The Bear That Wasn’t by Frank Tashlin

Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream by Alan Baker

The Big Box by Toni Morrison

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Bird by Zetta Elliott

Boodil My Dog by Pija Lindenbaum

C

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The Coat by Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks

The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

D

Double Trouble by Philip Cam

The Dragon Who Liked to Spit Fire by Judy Varga

Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

E

Emily's Art by Peter Catalanotto

Emma by Wendy Kesselman

Emma's Rug by Allen Say

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

F

First Grade Takes a Test by Miriam Cohen and Ronald Himler

Fish On A Walk by Eva Muggenthaler

Flowers from Mariko by Rick Noguchi, Deneen Jenks and Michelle Reiko

For Every Child by Caroline Castle

Franklin Fibs by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “Dragons and Giants”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Dream”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Garden”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Letter”

G

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments by Arnold Lobel

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

H

Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Shulz

Happy by Mies Van Hout

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling, Chapter 12, “The Mirror of Erised,”

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle

The Hermit Crab by Carter Goodrich

Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

I

I Want To Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

Ish by Peter Reynolds

J

K

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

L

Let's Do Nothing by Tony Fucile

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

M

Magic by Philip Cam

The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket by Sonia Levitin

Matthew's Dream by Leo Lionni

Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman

My Friend the Monster by Clyde Robert Bulla

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

N

O

The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer

On the Verandah by Philip Cam

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, "Owl and the Moon"

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, “Tear-Water Tea"

P

Peach & Blue by Sarah S. Kilborne

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Q

R

The Rainbow Fish by Peter Catalanotto

The Real Thief by William Steig

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

S

Standing Up to Mr. O by Claudia Mills

Strega Nona's Magic Lessons by Tomie dePaola

Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon

Stuart Little by E.B. White, Chapter 12, “The Schoolroom”

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

T

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The Three Questions by Jon J Muth

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

U

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

V

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

W

What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

What's Wrong, Little Pookie? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Why do I Have to Eat Off the Floor? by Chris Hornsey

Why? by Lindsay Camp and Tony Ross

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

X

Y

Yellow and Pink by William Steig

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivien Paley

Z

 

Aesthetics

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Bird by Zetta Elliott

The Coat by Julie Hunt and Ron Brooks

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay

Emily's Art by Peter Catalanotto

Emma by Wendy Kesselman

Emma's Rug by Allen Say

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Letter”

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle

I Want To Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee

Ish by Peter Reynolds

Matthew's Dream by Leo Lionni

Peach & Blue by Sarah S. Kilborne

Press Here by Herve Tullet

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

 

Epistemology

The Bear That Wasn’t by Frank Tashlin

Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream by Alan Baker

The Big Box by Toni Morrison

Boodil My Dog by Pija Lindenbaum

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Dream”

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling, Chapter 12, “The Mirror of Erised,”

Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

Magic by Philip Cam

The Man Who Kept His Heart in a Bucket by Sonia Levitin

Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman

The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, "Owl and the Moon"

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Why? by Lindsay Camp and Tony Ross

 

Ethics

Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

Amos & Boris by William Steig

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Bird by Zetta Elliott

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

The Dragon Who Liked to Spit Fire by Judy Varga

Flowers from Mariko by Rick Noguchi, Deneen Jenks and Michelle Reiko

Franklin Fibs by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “Dragons and Giants”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Dream”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Garden”

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Shulz

The Hermit Crab by Carter Goodrich

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

My Friend the Monster by Clyde Robert Bulla

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Peach & Blue by Sarah S. Kilborne

The Rainbow Fish by Peter Catalanotto

The Real Thief by William Steig

Standing Up to Mr. O by Claudia Mills

Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon

Strega Nona's Magic Lessons by Tomie dePaola

Stuart Little by E.B. White, Chapter 12, “The Schoolroom”

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

The Three Questions by Jon J Muth

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

What's Wrong, Little Pookie? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivien Paley

 

Logic

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, “A Mad Tea Party”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Garden”

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Letter”

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

The Real Thief by William Steig

Why do I Have to Eat Off the Floor? by Chris Hornsey

 

Metaphysics

Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, “A Mad Tea Party”

An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

The Bear That Wasn’t by Frank Tashlin

Benjamin’s Dreadful Dream by Alan Baker

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Boodil My Dog by Pija Lindenbaum

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay

Double Trouble by Philip Cam

Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

Fish On A Walk by Eva Muggenthaler

Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel, “The Dream”

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments by Arnold Lobel

Happy by Mies Van Hout

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle

The Hermit Crab by Carter Goodrich

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee

Let's Do Nothingby Tony Fucile

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

Magic by Philip Cam

Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman

The Obstinate Pen by Frank Dormer

On the Verandah by Philip Cam

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, "Owl and the Moon"

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, “Tear-Water Tea"

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Press Here by Herve Tullet

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Why do I Have to Eat Off the Floor? by Chris Hornsey

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Yellow and Pink by William Steig

 

Philosophy of Childhood

Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams

 

Philosophy of Education

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivien Paley

 

Philosophy of Language

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, “A Mad Tea Party”

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

 

Social and Political Philosophy

Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni

The Araboolies of Liberty Street by Sam Swope

The Big Box by Toni Morrison

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Bird by Zetta Elliott

First Grade Takes a Test by Miriam Cohen and Ronald Himler

Flowers from Mariko by Rick Noguchi, Deneen Jenks and Michelle Reiko

For Every Child by Caroline Castle

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

My Friend the Monster by Clyde Robert Bulla

The Rainbow Fish by Peter Catalanotto

Strega Nona's Magic Lessons by Tomie dePaola

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom