Twirl Books has been great for producing high-quality, fun, and educational board books for the littlest learners. Their What About… series, originally published in France, skews slightly older and are “Illustrated Q&A Book[s] for Kids”.
What About: The Universe, by Bertrand Fichou/Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, (Nov. 2022, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036345159
If you’ve been around kids, you’ve heard the questions: “Why don’t people on the other side of Earth fall into space?” “Is it cold in space?” “What’s in our solar system?” These questions, and many more, get answered thoughtfully and visually in What About the Universe, which begins with a glossary. I love this: get the vocabulary up front, preparing kids for words they’re going to see along the way! Answers are broken up into bite-sized, step-by-step responses, hopefully answering additional questions that pop up along the way. For instance, the answer to “How are stars born?” goes through a 5-step answer: “1) a nebula drifts through space; 2) the nebula shrinks, 3) everything starts to heat up; 4) the star ignites, and 5) planets form around the star”. Visuals make each concept easier to comprehend, and additional fun facts provide deeper context. Colorful cartoon artwork makes learning fun. An index makes searching for specific information easier, and a Table of Contents at the beginning helps readers locate their big questions with no fuss. A very good choice for reference and STEM collections.
I’m enjoying putting together activity packs these days; if you are, too, consider a few NASA coloring pages, a planets wordsearch from Ana DeSousa on TeachersPayTeachers, and this planet order worksheet from abunchofbrinsons on TeachersPayTeachers. Have them available for any of your space fans!
What About: Philosophy, by Gwénaëlle Boulet & Anne-Sophie Chilard/Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître, (May 2023, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791036353086
Kids are like mini-philosophers. Think of the big things they think about: “Why are there wars?” “What’s is fair or unfair?” “Why do I have to go to school?” There are 16 big questions in this book, all illustrated and considered with respect to the reader. Beginning with the biggie: “Why do humans exist?”, the book goes through age-appropriate explanations that consider existential theories and being self-aware. The authors explore concepts like being in love, being brave, and being free; what money is and why we use it, and abstract concepts like time. Explanations are factual, non-judgmental, and age-appropriate, so younger learners will more easily be able to follow along and gain deeper understanding of emotions like anger or jealousy and how it makes a person feel. Overall, a good addition to the series and a good attempt at putting some big questions into context for younger readers. There is a table of contents, but no index in this volume.
PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization) is an organization that offers philosophy and ethics programming to students, educators, and families. Their philosophy toolkit offers free, downloadable lesson plans, organized by grade level, that you can share with your families and school partners.