Understanding the world begins with asking good questions, and that is just what Questioneers series author Andrea Beaty is hoping to teach children with her new Questioneers Challenge. Each week through May, Beaty is taking to her publisher Abrams Books’ social media handles—@abramskids on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook—and posing a different question to help young readers explore the things around them.
Among the questions Beaty will be asking are Why are leaves green? What kind of things can an architect design? and Can people live on Mars? Participants’ parents can share what they discover on social media by using the hashtag #QuestioneersChallenge.
“Everything is topsy turvy,” Beaty said of the stay-at-home orders that have been mandated across the country. “It’s a hard time for families who are juggling work and distance learning and keeping the kids engaged and trying to get food on the table. From a kids’ perspective,” she continued, “it’s a bit like my childhood summer days. We had time on our hands. We didn’t have other kids to play with. We got bored out of our gourds and it was either mop the kitchen floor or come up with something to do. We hated mopping. So, we got doing.”
Beaty’s own explorations as a kid began with a question about the world beyond what she and her friends could see, and led to fun and exciting discoveries. With the Questioneers Challenge, she wants to help children and families create that experience for themselves.
There are no right or wrong answers to the challenge, and to show one way to use a question as a springboard for exploration, Beaty walked PW through the ways she would answer the question “What happens when flowers grow?”
First, Beaty said she would make a list of questions related to the big question of the day. For example, Why do plants have flowers? Do all plants have flowers? Why do some smell but others don’t?
“If kids can get outside,” Beaty said, “they can look for the signs of flowers coming up, and other signs of spring. That requires close examination of the soil and maybe earthworms and moisture and roots.”
From there, Beaty said she would devise a project, perhaps planting a seed, going for a walk and counting flowers, making paper flowers, looking at flowers on Pinterest, or drawing as many flowers as she could in half an hour. “Each question,” she said, “leads to others. The #QuestioneersChallenge can be as big or small or as deep or shallow as families want. And if it quits being fun—boom!—put it away and move on to something else! Nobody needs more stress or work.”
Above all, Beaty said she wants the challenge to provide relief to people feeling isolated during a difficult time. “I am so in awe of the parents, educators, booksellers, librarians, authors, illustrators, and everyone who is trying to help kids and families have some normalcy,” she said. “I hope the #QuestioneersChallenge gives families some fun and maybe a place to start some adventures. Maybe they can add a little joy on a tough day.”