cover image Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

Edited by Alain de Botton, illus. by Anna Doherty. School of Life, $24.99 (156p) ISBN 978-1-9997471-4-5

What is philosophy, and why does it matter? The first book for children from the School of Life seeks to connect young readers to influential thinkers via self-help tropes, arguing that “philosophy helps us to live wise lives.” The volume distills “big ideas” from 25 heavy-hitting philosophers, mostly Western, into simple precepts, such as “Know Yourself” (Socrates), “Don’t Expect Too Much” (Seneca), and “Why We Procrastinate” (Hypatia of Alexandria). Each idea sits in a dedicated chapter, presented in a conversational style (“You might not know the word procrastinate, or maybe you’ve heard it before but are not sure exactly what it means. It’s quite an unusual word”) and explained with accessible scenarios (“Imagine you have something you need to do for school.... On Saturday you think, ‘I’ll do it Sunday’ ”). A colorful spread featuring a short biography of the philosopher referenced (“an idea from Simone de Beauvoir”) follows the sections, illustrated with Doherty’s wide-eyed, Quentin Blake–esque figures, and prompts suggest ways for readers to work through their concerns. A useful, if narrow, introduction to emotional intelligence via philosophical thought. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)