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Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

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Children are, in many ways, born philosophers. This is a book designed to harness their spontaneous philosophical interest and develop it. Without prompting children often ask some of the largest questions about time, mortality, happiness and the meaning of life. Yet all too often their inborn curiosity is not developed and, with age, the questions fall away. This book addr Children are, in many ways, born philosophers. This is a book designed to harness their spontaneous philosophical interest and develop it. Without prompting children often ask some of the largest questions about time, mortality, happiness and the meaning of life. Yet all too often their inborn curiosity is not developed and, with age, the questions fall away. This book addresses some of their more complex questions by introducing accessible philosophical concepts from 25 famous thinkers, contextualized in relatable everyday scenarios. Presented in an interactive question and answer format this 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. With discussions about some of the most vibrant and essential philosophical ideas of history, this accessible book functions as an ideal introduction to the subject as well as a charming way to open up conversations between children and adults about the biggest questions we all face.


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Children are, in many ways, born philosophers. This is a book designed to harness their spontaneous philosophical interest and develop it. Without prompting children often ask some of the largest questions about time, mortality, happiness and the meaning of life. Yet all too often their inborn curiosity is not developed and, with age, the questions fall away. This book addr Children are, in many ways, born philosophers. This is a book designed to harness their spontaneous philosophical interest and develop it. Without prompting children often ask some of the largest questions about time, mortality, happiness and the meaning of life. Yet all too often their inborn curiosity is not developed and, with age, the questions fall away. This book addresses some of their more complex questions by introducing accessible philosophical concepts from 25 famous thinkers, contextualized in relatable everyday scenarios. Presented in an interactive question and answer format this 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. With discussions about some of the most vibrant and essential philosophical ideas of history, this accessible book functions as an ideal introduction to the subject as well as a charming way to open up conversations between children and adults about the biggest questions we all face.

30 review for Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy is a superb way to capture a child's imagination in an accessible and clearly explained book, and it certainly wasn't a surprise to me when I learned this was a bestseller; it deserves all the acclaim it's received. Having been fascinated by Philosophy from a young age I had often wondered when someone would write a book that would pique a youngsters interest in this complex area. The adult texts I have are far too dense and heavy for a Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy is a superb way to capture a child's imagination in an accessible and clearly explained book, and it certainly wasn't a surprise to me when I learned this was a bestseller; it deserves all the acclaim it's received. Having been fascinated by Philosophy from a young age I had often wondered when someone would write a book that would pique a youngsters interest in this complex area. The adult texts I have are far too dense and heavy for a child to enjoy, so that's where this exquisite little non-fiction title comes in. I simply cannot express how amazing this is and the quirky, unique accompanying illustrations broke up the text nicely. One thing I have learned over the years is that children ponder life's big questions too; not just us adults. The book will stimulate young minds into considering many thought-provoking questions and answers are given throughout. We encounter some of the most renowned and influential thinkers from a variety of eras - these include Friedrich Nietzsche, Adam Smith, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre to name just a few. Each philosopher is given their own chapter and the short, pithy structure and length of the chapters entice you to keep reading. Well written and presented in an engaging way, this is a must-read for a parent wishing to broach these topics with their child/ren. Alongside extensively researched biographies of the thinkers we are introduced to their "big ideas", and I specifically liked the concise, child-friendly explanations. Although aimed at children I feel many adults could learn a lot from this book also. It should be in every library and school bookshelf. An absolute must-read. Unreservedly recommended. Many thanks to The School of Life for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sammi

    This is a very short book which I read in one sitting. Before starting this book I knew it was aimed at children. Although at first, I didn't know what age range. After reading, I still couldn't tell you what age range this is aimed at. The writing style and words used would require at least someone over 14 years old to understand, but then by that age, I doubt any 14/15 year old could give a toss about any of this stuff anyway. The pictures relating to the writing were incredibly childish (altho This is a very short book which I read in one sitting. Before starting this book I knew it was aimed at children. Although at first, I didn't know what age range. After reading, I still couldn't tell you what age range this is aimed at. The writing style and words used would require at least someone over 14 years old to understand, but then by that age, I doubt any 14/15 year old could give a toss about any of this stuff anyway. The pictures relating to the writing were incredibly childish (although they are good) and would be aimed at someone under 10 years old, but as I said, the writing is more for adults so it just doesn't add up. I feel like this book was written by a parent who politely wants to tell their child to shut the f*ck up! The advice is poor and quite literally what a child psychologist would suggest to a "problem child". For example: "You have to go to bed and you're not tired: Unwise Responses: - Scream about how unfair everything is -Slam your bedroom door Wise Responses: -Remember that life is very long - you will be able to stay up late eventually. -Focus on all the fun things that will happen tomorrow, then get up early and have an interesting morning." After reading this part (and most of the other parts), I literally said out loud "Jeeez thanks for the advice!" - which was sarcasm. As you can see, this is what parents want children to think, it's very unlikely that a child is going to have these thoughts as at that point in their life, getting put to bed early when everyone else is allowed to stay up is the WORST thing that has ever happened to them and for them to understand that it isn't, they need to LIVE. No book is going to change a child's thought process in situations like this. For the other parts of the book where there is a page with an "about me" of famous Philosophers, it was literally copied and paste from Wikipedia. I wouldn't recommend this book for an adult let alone a child which it is apparently aimed at. If you bought this as a gift I can guarantee it would not get read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — Links to purchase book: Amazon UK

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 superb! REVIEW: I’ve been very excited to write a review about this book right since I started it! What a read it was!! This book is aimed at children and young adults and aims to introduce them to some of the more famous philosophical ways of thinking. As an adult, I found this book to be equally beneficial for myself. It provides relatable examples of real life situations where this way of thinking could apply. I feel this book would help children and adults alike to improve in ar RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 superb! REVIEW: I’ve been very excited to write a review about this book right since I started it! What a read it was!! This book is aimed at children and young adults and aims to introduce them to some of the more famous philosophical ways of thinking. As an adult, I found this book to be equally beneficial for myself. It provides relatable examples of real life situations where this way of thinking could apply. I feel this book would help children and adults alike to improve in areas such as understanding and patience when it comes to other people. It helps you to understand why people may act the way they do even when it’s not right. I feel this book would give the reader confidence to ask questions and realise the importance of asking ‘why?’ I highly recommend this book!!! I think it’s an excellent source of reference for many different aspects of life, for children and adults. This book should be considered essential reading for everybody. Kindle version of book needs adjusting and the cover is a bit dull but the content is 👍 👍 👍

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannahlily

    "Why Grown-up Life Is Hard: ...You need a lot of skills to be an adult, but adults aren't usually taught them." "Why Grown-up Life Is Hard: ...You need a lot of skills to be an adult, but adults aren't usually taught them."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    A children's book that many grown-ups need to read. A children's book that many grown-ups need to read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Irma Alam

    Wish I read this when I was a kid

  7. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    Big Ideas for Curious Minds is a delightful book to introduce (young) readers to philosophy. I would have loved to read this as a child, and I could really see how this book teaches to be patient with situations or people you might not understand straight away. Furthermore, it introduces well-known thinkers in a very accessible way, which was not boring at all! My rating for this book is 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a digital review copy of this book from The School of Life in exchange for an Big Ideas for Curious Minds is a delightful book to introduce (young) readers to philosophy. I would have loved to read this as a child, and I could really see how this book teaches to be patient with situations or people you might not understand straight away. Furthermore, it introduces well-known thinkers in a very accessible way, which was not boring at all! My rating for this book is 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a digital review copy of this book from The School of Life in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own

  8. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    I am 25 and got this book for myself. I tried other introduction into philosophy books but I was having to Google every other word to understand. This book is an EXCELLENT introduction into philosophy for not only kids but adults as well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate Bennett

    Clear and thoughtful children's philosophy book with wonderful illustrations. Clear and thoughtful children's philosophy book with wonderful illustrations.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is a persistent attack on the possibility of social norms. To call something abnormal, the authors claim, is to harm others “Just because they are Different”, and everyone is different, so we are all the same in being different, therefore nothing is abnormal (and youre a bigot if you think that someone’s preferences or actions could be abnormal). The authors also conflate Normal with Common or Usual, and thus construct a strawman argument to reach their skewed ideological conclusion. I This book is a persistent attack on the possibility of social norms. To call something abnormal, the authors claim, is to harm others “Just because they are Different”, and everyone is different, so we are all the same in being different, therefore nothing is abnormal (and youre a bigot if you think that someone’s preferences or actions could be abnormal). The authors also conflate Normal with Common or Usual, and thus construct a strawman argument to reach their skewed ideological conclusion. I contend that we need social norms in order to be able to resolve disagreements without violence. Some norms are functional, grounded in biology or in the purpose of the relevant social context, others are more traditional, but we need them nevertheless for harmonious co-existence. We can dislike or idolise things for being different ‘in a particular way’, but never just because they are different. To be different simply means, trivially, to be something. Equating difference with social good or normality is both logically false (category mistake) and socially harmful; equating assertions of abnormality with harm or bigotry is equally destructive, as it undermines the basis of human judgement between right and wrong. This kind of indoctrination could have a catastrophic effect on child psychology, presenting them with an abyss of complexity instead of helping them to find a way (the opposite of what the book purports to aim for). The book also stigmatises the unity of the body and the self, asserting that the body is something you are “dumped into”. This is conditioning kids to disassociate from the body. The authors tell us not to aim high so that we can be happy with the little that we achieve, but genuine satisfaction comes from overcoming our limitations, from aiming high, otherwise achievement has no value. The equality of underachievers is the opposite of personal fulfilment. Philosophers are cited out of context and without considering any objections. This is the opposite of Philosophy; dogmatism. A representative example of how philosophy is abused by the authors to drive their ideological agenda is the use of Camus ‘The Stranger’ to show that normality is a way of unjustly judging people. In the story, the protagonist is a postcard existentialist, disillusioned, numb, emotionally dead outsider. He is falsely accused of murder. Camus then constructs his ‘normal’ characters as messed up, insecure, neurotic and superstitious. The Outsder is found guilty, primarily because one witness reports that he did not show any emotion at his mother’s recent funeral. So what does the story really teach us? I suggest that it shows that by rejecting social norms, by becoming de-moralised in the literal sense of the term, by disassociating ourselves from the society, we are inviting hell; we not only lose our meaning but undermine the meaning of others. Another existentialist monument relevant here is Sartre’s ‘The Room’ (a theatre play). Here the author tires to convince us that Hell is Other People. A group of strangers wake up in a hotel room (after their death). The space is comfortable, and the Devil is an attentive and polite Concierge at their service. They lack nothing except that they are not allowed to leave each other’s company, and so they relations progressively disintegrate to mutual hatred, forever. What Sartre fails to consider is what it would be like to be locked up in a hotel room all by yourself for all eternity... An individual cannot exists apart from society, we are social beings and need reflexive relations with others to be ourselves.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    My rating for this book would be a 3.5 if Goodreads gave those in-between scores. I was excited to read this book since there aren't many titles for young readers that are devoted to philosophy, which seems to be considered by many to be too esoteric for them. It's basically an introduction to philosophy, distilled through 26 big ideas and the philosophical underpinnings for those ideas. I liked the fact that the ideas are introduced first, followed by a page or two about the philosopher respons My rating for this book would be a 3.5 if Goodreads gave those in-between scores. I was excited to read this book since there aren't many titles for young readers that are devoted to philosophy, which seems to be considered by many to be too esoteric for them. It's basically an introduction to philosophy, distilled through 26 big ideas and the philosophical underpinnings for those ideas. I liked the fact that the ideas are introduced first, followed by a page or two about the philosopher responsible for this thinking. Starting with Socrates and ending with John Rawls, the book encourages readers to ponder the meaning of life, fairness, unhappiness, politeness, normality, and shyness. As another reviewer remarked, even adults will find this book helpful since the philosophy is used to deal with practical matters and life's challenges. I felt smarter and even a tad bit more complacent and at peace after reading this book. Each philosophical thinker is featured in a one-page illustration that accompanies the text. There will be many middle graders and high schoolers who will be enthralled by this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Jemes

    As a former philosophy student in college and now expecting my own child, I was OBSESSED when I found this book!! I would have LOVED it as an 8 year old. The ideas are straightforward, the philosophical concept is listed as a “Big Idea” and explained. The Big Idea corresponds to a thinker. I was impressed with the variety of thinkers: women, Islamic, from all time periods, as well as the old standbys. What excites me the most though are the “thought experiments” or prompts that are placed strateg As a former philosophy student in college and now expecting my own child, I was OBSESSED when I found this book!! I would have LOVED it as an 8 year old. The ideas are straightforward, the philosophical concept is listed as a “Big Idea” and explained. The Big Idea corresponds to a thinker. I was impressed with the variety of thinkers: women, Islamic, from all time periods, as well as the old standbys. What excites me the most though are the “thought experiments” or prompts that are placed strategically throughout the book and encourage deeper individual thought. One example is a checklist to “see if I’m just tired” or if feelings are related to an outside issue. Another is “make a list of problems you think would be interesting to solve (example: What is the best way to live a happy life?).” These encourage deeper, more abstract thoughts, and the entire pursuit of philosophic thinking starts here. I can’t recommend this book enough for curious kids or adults!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ex Libris Meis

    I always wanted to read philosophy, but I was afraid that I would not be smart enough to understand it. Luckily for me, the company invented by Alain de Botton, “The School of Life”, printed a book to explain philosophy to the children. 🙂 And this is how I read “Big ideas for curious minds”. I enjoyed it so much, and I found it so useful for everyday life, that I started to send e-mail to my sons, once a week. The e-mails contained two parts. The first part was the summary of the lesson, including I always wanted to read philosophy, but I was afraid that I would not be smart enough to understand it. Luckily for me, the company invented by Alain de Botton, “The School of Life”, printed a book to explain philosophy to the children. 🙂 And this is how I read “Big ideas for curious minds”. I enjoyed it so much, and I found it so useful for everyday life, that I started to send e-mail to my sons, once a week. The e-mails contained two parts. The first part was the summary of the lesson, including a little biography of the philosopher who developed the idea. The second part was my personal intake of the lesson. In other words, most of the time, I told them the mistakes I have made in my life or the few times I got it right (precisely like the philosophers thinking). http://www.exlibrismeis.com/en/?p=479...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara-Beara

    My dad got me this a few years ago and I decided to read it finally, It wasn't that good. For me at least I have already thought about most of the stuff this book talked about but also the book was not fun to read. It was clearly aimed at younger kids but the writing style seemed aimed for older then what should read this. Some of the things in here where not good advice unless you dived more into it. I felt like a child being scolded/given a pep talk while reading this and I didn't like that so My dad got me this a few years ago and I decided to read it finally, It wasn't that good. For me at least I have already thought about most of the stuff this book talked about but also the book was not fun to read. It was clearly aimed at younger kids but the writing style seemed aimed for older then what should read this. Some of the things in here where not good advice unless you dived more into it. I felt like a child being scolded/given a pep talk while reading this and I didn't like that so that's why I'm giving it 2 stares. Overall I didn't really like this book (mostly bc it wasn't aimed for me and it was pretty patronizing) and I'm not sure why my dad got me this. Probably because he got me this when I wasn't younger.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Natsuko Mori

    This book was aimed at children... Something I didn't realise, because I decided not to fully read the blurb, of course. The ideas in it were interesting, and I liked how they were tied into ideas well-known philosophers have had. I'm rating it a 4 stars as a kind of objective rating; for me, it wsa boring and quite shallow, with ideas I've mostly heard about many times before, but for a kid, I think this is a great way to introduce philosophy and maybe get them interested in more complex stuff. This book was aimed at children... Something I didn't realise, because I decided not to fully read the blurb, of course. The ideas in it were interesting, and I liked how they were tied into ideas well-known philosophers have had. I'm rating it a 4 stars as a kind of objective rating; for me, it wsa boring and quite shallow, with ideas I've mostly heard about many times before, but for a kid, I think this is a great way to introduce philosophy and maybe get them interested in more complex stuff. All in all, it did get me interested in philosophy, so I suppose I'll go out and find something that doesn't use as much of a childishly condescending tone when talking about such ideas.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kush

    This is a brilliantly crafted gem of a book. A brilliant introduction into Philosophy for anyone. If you're a young child you can start to explore the ideas you already have with more understanding and context. If you're an adult it's a great stepping stone to get beyond the waffle to understand what is Philosophy. If you're an adult who already has an interest in Philosophy it is still much needed for you to reconnect with the inner enquiring mind that shone so effortlessly as a child. Perfect f This is a brilliantly crafted gem of a book. A brilliant introduction into Philosophy for anyone. If you're a young child you can start to explore the ideas you already have with more understanding and context. If you're an adult it's a great stepping stone to get beyond the waffle to understand what is Philosophy. If you're an adult who already has an interest in Philosophy it is still much needed for you to reconnect with the inner enquiring mind that shone so effortlessly as a child. Perfect for yourself, perfect as a gift. Thank you School of Life You've done it again!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Ambrose

    This book is a little gem which kept me entertained as much as it would the target audience. As a teacher something I'm always trying to encourage in students is to question, to query and to think about things ; this book is a ready made resource for this, with a variety of topics covered so the young person reading it is bound to find something to pique their interest. I used some of the questions as starting points for small discussions and essays with one of my classes. The layout is very user This book is a little gem which kept me entertained as much as it would the target audience. As a teacher something I'm always trying to encourage in students is to question, to query and to think about things ; this book is a ready made resource for this, with a variety of topics covered so the young person reading it is bound to find something to pique their interest. I used some of the questions as starting points for small discussions and essays with one of my classes. The layout is very user friendly, the illustrations are wonderful and overall it is a very readable, accessible book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    This was a short book but I still enjoyed it though the author could’ve done a better job of targeting the audience as it was all over the place. There are some parts where it felt like a parent trying to teach a ten year old simple lessons, such as “the news doesn’t always tell the whole story” and there are other parts that I could actually read without feeling a condescending tone to it. I know this book is indented to teach philosophy to teenagers of about 13+ old but it does it poorly with This was a short book but I still enjoyed it though the author could’ve done a better job of targeting the audience as it was all over the place. There are some parts where it felt like a parent trying to teach a ten year old simple lessons, such as “the news doesn’t always tell the whole story” and there are other parts that I could actually read without feeling a condescending tone to it. I know this book is indented to teach philosophy to teenagers of about 13+ old but it does it poorly with the writers language used

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Prosser

    I have been reading 1 or 2 'big ideas' a night to my 11-year-old. Yes, he could read it himself, but it was something that we could read together and discuss after each chapter. there was a lot of great ideas, and it also helped me as an adult, and as a parent to think about what I do and how my child would interpret it. and such a great introduction to philosophers. Will definitely re-read this to my next child. I have been reading 1 or 2 'big ideas' a night to my 11-year-old. Yes, he could read it himself, but it was something that we could read together and discuss after each chapter. there was a lot of great ideas, and it also helped me as an adult, and as a parent to think about what I do and how my child would interpret it. and such a great introduction to philosophers. Will definitely re-read this to my next child.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Read it. The sections relating an idea to children were very well done, but I wanted more on the philosophers’ pages. They were usually a single page, and a spread would have allowed for more explanation. Worth having read, even as an adult, but I wish it could have gone a bit deeper into the philosophies.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Balaji

    This is a very good book that is aimed at helping children deal with various psychological problems that they will invariably face in life. It is sometimes too verbose and boring to read. But as most of the problems that the book talks about are things children face everyday or have faced already in the past, they could relate to it and could easily grasp the solution offered.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Orth

    Skimmed this title in order to determine whether to purchase this for the teen collection at my library. I won’t but only because it it on the younger side. It would be great for the juvenile collection, especially if the cover was more colorful. The illustrations inside are lovely loose watercolors so why package this as a very scholarly looking book bound in dark green cloth is curious.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mira

    I like how this book broke down philosophical ideas into the simplest of terms, so much so that it's applicable and understandable to children.. and of course, adults! The illustrations are worth mentioning too, they make the book a lot more fun to thumb through. Every page is worded simply and aptly, it would make as great posters of reminders. I like how this book broke down philosophical ideas into the simplest of terms, so much so that it's applicable and understandable to children.. and of course, adults! The illustrations are worth mentioning too, they make the book a lot more fun to thumb through. Every page is worded simply and aptly, it would make as great posters of reminders.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Medeea Marțolea

    A very charismatic book that explains some of our most desirable questions about life and society in an organized and logical manner. I think it is definitely intended to be read by/to children but I highly believe that adults can easily benefit from that organized knowledge as well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fadilla Putri

    Though it's for kids and young readers, I know adults will be enjoying this book, too. The book talks about philosophy in a very simple, practical way. Reading this book allows me to reflect my own life, to stop for a moment and enjoy its simplicity. Also, it provides us with the ideas of the great minds, such as Socrates, Albert Camus, Ibn Sinna, and other philosophers in an enjoyable way. I gave it four stars (not five) because the book is too short and I'm craving for more big ideas! :p Though it's for kids and young readers, I know adults will be enjoying this book, too. The book talks about philosophy in a very simple, practical way. Reading this book allows me to reflect my own life, to stop for a moment and enjoy its simplicity. Also, it provides us with the ideas of the great minds, such as Socrates, Albert Camus, Ibn Sinna, and other philosophers in an enjoyable way. I gave it four stars (not five) because the book is too short and I'm craving for more big ideas! :p

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    An introduction to philosophy is intended for children yet it has lessons we can all learn. This is a book I will likely return to in the hopes of having some of these concepts sink in. It is also a great jumping off point to dive deeper into the concepts presented.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Lovely book that I'm glad I got for my son. I wish I'd had it as a kid. Lovely book that I'm glad I got for my son. I wish I'd had it as a kid.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary T

    Patronizing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abbie Butcher

    Really weird, illustrations were also not that great. Laid out nicely I suppose, but even as an adult I don't understand a lot of the content. Can't imagine if you were a child trying to read this. Really weird, illustrations were also not that great. Laid out nicely I suppose, but even as an adult I don't understand a lot of the content. Can't imagine if you were a child trying to read this.

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