November 19 was World Philosophy Day, a day allocated by the United Nations to foster philosophical analysis and self-reflection. Here are three books picked by our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai that show children immersed in moments of quiet contemplation.
We often think our most profound thoughts when it’s dark outside and we’re tucked in bed at night. This is true of the little boy in A Serious Thought, who is thinking of all kinds of scary and beautiful things in bed one night. The boy’s train of thought then turns to the Earth, which he has heard being described as a floating marble. He wonders, if the Earth is a tiny marble floating in space then he is even tinier; what then does his existence mean in the grand scheme of things? The boy ponders over this before drifting off to sleep. Sparse, black-and-white illustrations accompany the text and perfectly compliment the book’s thoughtful message that comfort and solace can be found in little things. Grades Preschool-1
In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a lonely boy strolls aimlessly in the woods and comes across a mole. They decide to walk together, but they soon find a fox trapped in a snare and decide to set it free and the three eventually meet a horse. So begins the journey of the lonely boy, the greedy mole, the wary fox and the wise horse. They make an unlikely group but they walk together, in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love. Filled with 100 color and black-and-white drawings, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a deceptively simple book full of life lessons about the importance of kindness, conversation, reflection and true companionship. Grades 1 and up
In Peter Carnavas’s subtly philosophical picture book, we meet Mary, a little girl who is very quiet by nature. She’s so quiet that she thinks quiet thoughts, steps quiet steps and whispers quiet words. This makes her attuned to the sights and sounds of the world around her, for instance, she hears the sigh of the dog sleeping next door, the gentle creek of the tree around the corner and the buzzing of the dragonfly. Her family, though, is the opposite and although she tries to talk to them, she cannot be heard over the sounds of their blow-dryers, blenders, lawnmowers and trombones. So, Mary retreats into nature even more and it is only when the family starts searching the neighbourhood for her that they begin to see the world through her eyes. Lovingly illustrated in full colour, this beautiful picture book is a gentle reminder to all humans big and small to practice mindfulness and stillness and appreciate the beauty around us. Grades Preschool-2