Big Ideas for Curious Minds – Book Review

This book is not what it seems.

The premise is to harness and develop children’s natural curiosity and philosophical instinct through the introduction of various philosophical ideas from history. In reality it delivers so much more than that. On first glance the book appears to be quite ‘info heavy’ and for much older children, however on closer inspection this really would be the most wonderful gift for any child from the suggested target age of 9+. The real USP of this book is the fact that it can be explored with child and parent reading each chapter together, discussing and musing the very relevant notions in each of the 26 bite size sections.

The focus of these chapters are incredibly meaningful, some of my favourites include ‘People are unhappy, not mean’, ‘Learn to say what’s on your mind’, ‘Good things are (unexpectedly) hard’ and ‘Politeness matters’. The book has been written by the fantastic School of Life and it is suggested for curious minds aged 9+. I think most adults would also find these ideas incredibly helpful to reflect on; who doesn’t need reminding that when someone is angry, maybe it’s not you who is responsible? Through linking each theme to a story or idea from a specific philosopher, the reader is encouraged to stay inquisitive and reflect on why we all think, feel and behave in certain ways. The links between each philosophical idea and everyday life are made in such a clear way that the reader can’t help but begin to reflect on how to use their new found awareness.

To quote from the introductory chapter, ‘What is Philosophy?’:

“Philosophy helps us to live wise lives. But what does wisdom mean? It’s not very obvious, at first. Is being wise just about being clever? No, it’s much more than that. It’s about being sensible, kind, calm and accepting of how life can sometimes be (which isn’t always perfect, and sometimes really hard).”

I think most of us and our children could do with any help going to live wise lives. If you’re looking for a book to help cultivate your child’s empathy and help keep them curious, this is the one.


– Louise Treherne, Head of Character Education.

Find out more about our Life Skills Courses, developed by Louise.