Philosophy books for children?
March 19, 2012 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of any books for children around the age of 9 (a rather intelligent 9 year old mind you) that explores philosophical concepts, specifically metaphysics and epistemology. I gave him some old philosophy textbooks of mine, but they were a little too much for him I think.
posted by fightoplankton to Education (24 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Sophie's World might be a good place to start. Might still be a biiiit over his head, but is definitely worth a go.
posted by naturalog at 10:24 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Came in to suggest Sophie's World as well.
posted by infini at 10:39 PM on March 19, 2012

The Phantom Tollbooth is great for logic and philosophy of language, and spot-on for the age.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:45 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

Oh, man, can't believe I didn't think of Phantom Tollbooth. Seconding that one.
posted by naturalog at 10:46 PM on March 19, 2012

Isn't this A Wrinkle in Time? I started reading it to my 8 year old and it was a little dense for him - though it was also in the language he doesn't speak at school. I enjoyed it, certainly and I'll bring it back up in a couple years.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:14 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery, by Matthew Lipman, who established the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. The IAPC created a lot of the material for the Philosophy for Children (P4C) program, which aims to get philosophical training into elementary and middle schools. There are other philosophical novels by Lipman, as well.
posted by bardophile at 12:14 AM on March 20, 2012

Sophie's World is good, but I think it's probably too challenging even for a mature 9-year-old. Certainly worth trying, though.
posted by bardophile at 12:55 AM on March 20, 2012

It isn't metaphysics or epistemology, but I'd think Logicomix would be pretty accessible for an interested 9 year old. It's about Bertrand Russel and also features Wittgenstein.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:08 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: I hated Sophie's World and found A Wrinkle in Time, but they might definitely be worth a go to see how he gets on. What sprang to mind for me was the 'Introducing...' series, by Totem Books. Try a library to see what there is (I'm not sure). I think the straight-talking style would really work.

Books in this series can be read in a day. They use a mix of text and cartoon style graphics to convey the key ingredients of a subject in a concise and straightforward way. (from)
posted by lokta at 2:57 AM on March 20, 2012

oh distractibility. I found A Wrinkle in Time nowhere near as mindblowing as reputed!
posted by lokta at 2:59 AM on March 20, 2012

The Annotated Alice.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe have a look at Insurmountable Simplicities. It's not For Children, but takes philosophical concepts and places them in usually somewhat absurd stories or dialogues that might be accessible.

What about the Tao of Pooh/Te of Piglet? I seem to recall they aren't what anyone would call "rigorous," but you'll have to evaluate how much you're really looking for in that regard.
posted by Su at 3:25 AM on March 20, 2012

Do read through Insurmountable Simplicities yourself first if it becomes an option. I can't promise there might not be something inappropriate in there for a 9yr-old; it's been a while since I read it. Nothing remotely pr0n, of course; just be sure to vet it. It's a fun, quick little book, anyway.
posted by Su at 3:29 AM on March 20, 2012

Response by poster: bardophile, He actually is enrolled in the Montclair school district which incorporated Harry Stottlemeier's Discovery into its curriculum and I believe he had classes involving the IAPC in the second grade. From what I gather its not quite as advance as I was going for with him (I may be mistaken though).

To clarify for everyone else, I wasn't looking for novels as much as non-fiction books on the topic which he could understand.

Anything in this realm?
posted by fightoplankton at 4:53 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking (Stephen Law) would be a great non-fiction choice I think - 25 short stories/exercises written as dialogues, with notes interspersed, and places to find further information.
posted by atlantica at 5:35 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: Stephen Law has some good philosophy books for younger readers. Another good option is the philosophy files.
posted by Laura_J at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: If this kid likes comics, Action Philosophers is really fun, and does a pretty good job of straightforwardly explaining the basics of many a thought school.
posted by themadthinker at 5:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sophie's World is barely a novel; or, if it is a novel, then Plato's dialogs are plays. That it said, it's well worth reading.

The dialogs from Gödel, Escher Bach should be fine for a bright, curious 9-year-old.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 AM on March 20, 2012

Seconding Action Philosophers. Great, simple introduction to a lot of different thinkers. Plus, the authors are good people who are (were?) doing their own mailouts and such with signed copies and hand-addressed envelopes, and that kind of dedication deserves support.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:57 AM on March 20, 2012

The Lemony Snicket books are actually really good when it comes to how morality can be ambiguous......not philosophy, exactly, but there are some really interesting concepts regarding how the world works compared to how the world should work.
posted by zizzle at 7:00 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: What Does it All Mean? by Thomas Nagel
posted by John Cohen at 7:42 AM on March 20, 2012

In line with Action Philosphers, there's a book called Philosophy Comics - it's not fantastic, but it covers most of the history of philosophy in a light-hearted format.

By the author of Sophie's World there's also a *fantastic* novel for older children called The Solitare Mystery that covers a lot of philosophical ground.

Finally, if he's a strong reader, I'd suggest checking out some used bookstores for college intro to philosophy readers or informal logic texts. He won't get all of it, but I was about that she when I found my mothers old stash of textbooks, and they were really intriguing.
posted by Gori Girl at 8:00 AM on March 20, 2012

My introduction to philosophy was via this half-cartoon, half-text book (this was used as a textbook for a high school survey class):

Looking at Philosophy by Donald Palmer

I see from his Amazon page that he wrote several more after that.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 9:00 AM on March 20, 2012

Best answer: I haven't tried these out on children, but the cartoon / graphic series originally published as " ... for Beginners" might work. Looks like they have mostly been republished as "Introducing ... : A Graphic Guide". Introducing Philosophy: A Graphic Guide to the History of Thinking. Ethics: A Graphic Guide. There are a load of more specific ones - Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Kant etc.
posted by paduasoy at 1:57 PM on March 22, 2012

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