Children are, in many ways, born philosophers.
Without prompting, they ask some of the largest questions about time, mortality, happiness and the meaning of it all. Yet too often this inborn curiosity is not developed and, with age, the questions fall away.
This is a book designed to harness children''s spontaneous philosophical instinct and to develop it through introductions to some of the most vibrant and essential philosophical ideas of history. The book takes us to meet leading figures of philosophy from around the world and from all eras - and shows us how their ideas continue to matter.
The book functions as an ideal introduction to philosophy, as well as a charming way to open up conversations between adults and children about the biggest questions we all face.
What people are saying about Big Ideas for Curious Minds:
"This is an absolute must have for ALL children. It is absolutely fantastic and helps children understand a number of their daily struggles. In fact I take that previous comment back,
this is an absolute must for EVERYONE
. I have had read it from cover to cover, and as a 40 year old woman I have honestly learnt something new." Freddies Mummy UK
"This is a beautifully produced book published by the School of Life (founded by well known philosopher Alain de Botton). It is a very accessible starting point for exploring philosophy and
how philosophical ideas can be applied to everyday life
, in fact it is very explicit about this." Ewingel
"I can''t stop reading and talking about this book with others.
It is easy to follow and great for an introduction to philosophy for kids. Well written, great illustrations, ideas and clever how it relates the philosophers'' ideas to the lives and issues that children have. 5 stars!" Thomas Leesa
"The book itself is genius with an introduction to leading figures of philosophy from around the world from all eras. Alongside that there are chapters teaching our children crucial lessons about life, about love, and about loss. Topics such as ''Why you feel lonely'' , ''Politeness matters'' , ''People are unhappy not mean'' , and ''The mind-body problem'' offer invaluable insights into philosophy in a way that our children can really get on board with. When the book arrived and I had a quick glance through it, my immediate reaction was that it was far too old for my children. And yet when I took the time to start reading, and to admire the beautiful illustrations,
I found myself still sat there, an hour later, realising that this was exactly the kind of book I want each of my children to read as they grow
." Five Little Doves
"The focus of these chapters are incredibly meaningful, some of my favourites include ''People are unhappy, not mean'', ''Learn to say what s on your mind'', ''Good things are (unexpectedly) hard'' and ''Politeness matters''. The book has been written by the fantastic School of Life and it is suggested for curious minds aged 9+.
I think most adults would also find these ideas incredibly helpful
to reflect on; who doesn''t need reminding that when someone is angry, maybe it''s not you who is responsible?" Louise Treherne, Role Models
"Although Big Ideas for Curious Minds is aimed at children I have got a lot from it too and I wish I had read it myself as a child...
This book has taught me, and LP, new ways of thinking and new ways of being
." What the Redhead Said
Featured in The Guardian''s Best Children''s Books of 2018: "Our pick was
Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy – a plain-speaking guide to philosophers, what matters and how to deal with things. A nine-year-old of my acquaintance was struck by a Mary Wollstonecraft idea – “why we hate cheap things” – about rarity and value." -
"The first book for children from The School of Life seeks to connect young readers to influential thinkers … The volume distills “big ideas” from 25 heavy-hitting philosophers … into simple precepts. Each idea sits in a dedicated chapter, presented in a conversational style … and explained with accessible scenarios. A useful … introduction to emotional intelligence via philosophical thought." – Publishers Weekly
“An ideal introduction to philosophy, as well as a charming way to open up conversations between adults and children about the biggest questions we all face ... Big Ideas for Curious Minds is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library collections.” – Midwest Book Review
"An eye-opening introduction to philosophy for young readers … the book makes great ideas accessible without watering them down, showing confidence in its audience’s ability to wrestle with real questions. Within Big Ideas for Curious Minds, philosophy isn’t useless, boring, or just for grownups; it’s vibrant and full of wisdom for preteens and young teens, too." – Foreword Reviews
"Introspective, thoughtful kids ages 8 and up may find this book interesting to ponder. Parents nearing the end of patience for their tweens may want to leave this book lying around for browsing." – Youth Services Book Review
"A formidable introduction for a middle schooler interested in philosophy and a reference book that offers more than Wikipedia. Strongly recommended for middle school libraries looking for high quality nonfiction reference books." – School Library Journal
“The book itself is genius with an introduction to leading figures of philosophy from around the world from all eras… Topics such as ‘Why you feel lonely’, ‘Politeness matters’, ‘People are unhappy not mean’, and ‘The mind-body problem’ offer invaluable insights into philosophy in a way that our children can really get on board with.” – Laura, blogger at five little doves
"I absolutely LOVE this book!!!!! This guide to wisdom and happiness is beautifully written. The tone and voice are exceptional for kids and the lessons are IMPORTANT. Positive self-esteem and coping strategies are necessary to mental health and stability; something that is often overlooked with our young children. As an adult, it reinforced all of the problem solving and self-talk techniques that I am constantly reminding myself to practice day to day! Big Ideas for Curious Minds should be a required read for all children and parents. This world would be a better place if we could understand ourselves and communicate and empathize with others. Thank you for the experience." - Maria Conn, Read-Ability
"This book is a wonderful collection of philosophical concepts. It takes ideas and questions that children have and provides good explanations of how everyone can grapple with these philosophical concepts. This is definitely a book I would recommend for everyone who has an interest in learning some of the basics of philosophy in a simplified way.” - Kids Book Buzz
About the Author
The School of Life is a global organization helping people lead more fulfilled lives. Through our range of books, gifts and stationery we aim to prompt more thoughtful natures and help everyone to find fulfillment. The School of Life is a resource for exploring self-knowledge, relationships, work, socializing, finding calm, and enjoying culture through content, community, and conversation. You can find us online, in stores and in welcoming spaces around the world offering classes, events, and one-to-one therapy sessions.
The School of Life is a rapidly growing global brand, with over 6 million YouTube subscribers, 351,000 Facebook followers, 218,000 Instagram followers and 163,000 Twitter followers.
The School of Life Press brings together the thinking and ideas of the School of Life creative team under the direction of series editor, Alain de Botton. Their books share a coherent, curated message that speaks with one voice: calm, reassuring, and sane.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Philosophy is quite a mysterious subject that most people don’t know anything about. The average school doesn’t teach it, the average adult does not understand it, and the whole subject can seem odd and kind of unnecessary. That’s a real pity because in fact, philosophy has a lot to teach everyone, whatever their age. It might even be the most important subject you will ever study. This book wants to open the door for you― to show you what philosophy is all about, and how it can help you to understand life. The word ‘philosophy’ itself gives us a bit of a clue as to why the subject matters. It’s originally a word from Ancient Greek: the first part,
philo, means ‘love’ (philately means the love of stamps). The second part, which comes from the word
sophia, means ‘wisdom’. So, when you put the two parts together―
philo-sophy―it literally means ‘the love of wisdom’. Philosophy helps us to live wise lives. But what does ‘wisdom’ mean? It’s not very obvious, at first. Is being wise just about being clever? No, it’s much more than that. It’s about being sensible, kind, calm and accepting of how life can sometimes be (which isn’t always perfect, and sometimes really quite hard). To get a better idea of what wisdom might involve, we can think about its opposite: not being wise. Imagine that your mum loses her keys. There are unwise ways she might deal with this. Maybe she starts shouting at other people: ‘Who moved my car keys?’ (even though probably no one did move them). Or maybe she gets into a panic and throws herself onto the sofa, moaning that she’s a complete idiot and that her entire life is ruined. Poor mum! What would a wiser mum do? Instead of ranting and raving, or starting to panic straight away, she would think: ‘Well, car keys do tend to get lost from time to time. I must have put them somewhere… maybe they’re in the coat I was wearing yesterday.’ She could ask (calmly) if you had seen them, and she might even laugh about how silly she was to forget where she’d put them. There are lots of situations where you can see the difference between unwise and wise ways of dealing with stuff that happens. There are lots of problems, both big and small, in everyone’s life―including yours, too, of course. We can never get rid of them entirely (though we try hard), but we can all get better at how we deal with our problems. We can try not to get angry so often, try to shout less, and try not to panic or hurt the people we love. Philosophy tries to help us act more wisely when facing the problems in our lives that we can’t do much about.