In March of this year, Yuliia Kravchenko—Head of the Critical Thinking Development Lab in the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and a visiting scholar to the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) in 2021 and 2022—asked the international philosophy for children community for volunteers to support children and teachers in Ukraine and in countries hosting Ukrainian refugees, using philosophy for children discussion strategies through Zoom meetings. In support of that effort, the editors of the IAPC weblog Thinking in Stories: Reviewing Philosophy in Children’s Literature created an award contest to solicit reviews identifying books for children and young adults that contribute helpfully to their thinking and resilience in situations of war and displacement. The contest announcement recalled these remarks by IAPC co-founder Matthew Lipman in the BBC documentary Socrates for Six-Year-Olds:
[blockquote]Children don’t have much private property. Perhaps they own their clothes and a few toys. It’s hard to say that they own even their bed or the furniture in their rooms that belong to the family or the parents. And so, the kind of security that comes with the ownership of property is usually not permitted to children. On the other hand, they do have their thoughts, and they cherish these. They are proud of these. These are very consoling. They are what [children] can be secretive about, and no one else can invade this privacy. And they have the use of language, which gives them a great deal of power; because with words they can talk to one another and communicate with one another, but also, they can defend themselves. I think words mean power to children, and having thoughts is a source of richness—perhaps the only source of richness. (BBC 1990)[/blockquote]
[blockquote]It’s heartbreaking to think about the children, families, and teachers we are trying to support with this effort – not only in Ukraine, but many other places around the world. So is has been gratifying to see so many in the international philosophy for children community support this effort. We received many reviews from around the world, and in the end we awarded one first prize, five second-place prizes, and one honorable mention, from a total of six different countries, including two reviews from Ukraine.[/blockquote]
The results of the contest (including links to the reviews) are published on the IAPC website. In addition to the reviews solicited in the contest, Dr. Shea, Dr. Gregory, and Dr. Amy Reed-Sandoval (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) wrote reviews on the theme, for which Shea wrote an introduction.
Because of the success of this award contest, the IAPC will conduct future contests to solicit reviews of children’s books that can prompt philosophical inquiry on other themes such as child activism and environmental ethics. Thinking in Stories began in 1979 as a column by the late American philosopher Gareth B. Matthews, appearing in Thinking: The Journal of Philosophy for Children, published by the IAPC. The column was continued by Dr. Peter Shea and became a weblog in 2020.