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A Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children's Literature

"Writers of great picture books are well attuned to the features of the world that baffle young children."

Monday, April 15, 2013 8:08 am EDT
"determined to put obstacles in our way as we try to complete the various tasks life demands."

Think back to being a child and your favorite stories and picture books. Now think, through adult eyes, about why you enjoyed them. While you may have loved the appealing illustrations or loveable characters, was the appeal not also in the bewildering questions that the story raised? The kind of questions that the adult reading the book could never quite answer... How can a leopard without spots still be a leopard? Why is it OK for adults to deceive children but not the other way round? Can you really go swimming in an imaginary ocean?

Now, in his engaging and practical new book, Wartenberg helps us find answers to some of the "Why? Why? Why?" questions by taking a closer look at sixteen children's picture books through the eyes of the philosopher (a philosopher himself and founder of the Teaching Children Philosophy program, Wartenberg recognizes the similarity between children and philosophers - both always "determined to put obstacles in our way as we try to complete the various tasks life demands."). Amongst other things, we consider whether Shrek can really be handsome just because he tells us he is, consider why the "happily ever after" ending may not always be the best outcome, and ask whether it's OK for the Star-Belly Sneetches to consider themselves superior than the Plain-Belly Sneetches.

Written in a light-hearted and accessible style, each chapter focuses on a different book (see below for full list) and a specific philosophical issue, from metaphysics to language, morality to knowledge, judgments to ethics.

There is a brief biography of the philosophers discussed, a glossary of key philosophical terms, and, at the end of each chapter, additional questions for you to ponder, either with a child or on your own!

The perfect introduction to philosophy for children at home or at school and an insightful read for anyone contemplating their own philosophical conundrums, A Sneetch is a Sneetch leaves the reader better equipped to understand the stories they read or hear each night and, for adults, allows them to shed light on some of those tricky questions!

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