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Thinking in Stories: Reviewing Philosophy in Children’s Literature

Since 1979, Thinking in Stories has provided reviews of children’s and young adult literature containing philosophical perplexities ripe for inter-generational dialogue. The column was created by the late American philosopher Gareth B. Matthews, who initiated the study of philosophy in children’s literature. In his role as contributing editor for Thinking: The Journal of Philosophy for Children, Matthews wrote 58 Thinking in Stories reviews between 1979 and 2006. The column was continued by Dr. Peter Shea and became a weblog in 2020. Reviews by others are occasionally printed in the column; those interested in contributing a review should request a style guide by sending an email to shea0017@umn.edu.

Copyright for Thinking in Stories reviews published in the IAPC journal Thinking (1979-2014) is held by the IAPC and requests for reprint permissions should be sent to iapc@montclair.edu. Copyright for reviews published on this weblog (since 2020) is held by Dr. Peter Shea and requests for reprint permissions should be sent to shea0017@umn.edu.

Two other websites devoted to philosophy in children’s literature (created by colleagues of Matthews) are Philosophy and Children’s Literature (University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children) and Teaching Children Philosophy (Prindle Institute for Ethics at DuPauw University).

Reviews Alphabetical by Title

Reviews Alphabetical by Author

Reviews with Reading Level
Author & Title Grade Level Developmental Reading Assessment Level Guided Reading Level Lexile Measure
Alexie: Thunder Boy Jr. K-2 n/a n/a AD420L
Catalanotto: Emily’s Art K-2 20 L AD530L
Heide: The Shrinking of Treehorn K-2 n/a n/a AD480L
Klevin: The Puddle Pail K-2 20 L 590L
Lobel: Frog and Toad Together K-2 16/18 K 330L
Mahy: The King’s Toys K-2 14/16 E/F 225-250L
Martin and Marx: Now Everybody Really Hates Me K-2 30 O AD600L
McKee: Not Now, Bernard K-2 10 F 200L
Miller: Three Stories You Can Read to your Cat K-2 18 I/J 390L
Seuss: The Sneetches and Other Stories K-2 n/a n/a NP
Simmonds: Fred K-2 n/a n/a NP
Simmonds: Lulu and the Flying Babies K-2 n/a n/a NP
Thurber: Many Moons K-2 38 P 790L
Wilbur: The Pig in the Spigot K-2 n/a n/a NP
Williams: Albert’s Impossible Toothache K-2 20 L 570L
Wiseman: Morris the Moose K-2 8 E 130L
Zolotow: I Know a Lady K-2 14 H NC750L
Author & Title Grade Level Developmental Reading Assessment Level Guided Reading Level Lexile Measure
Fox: Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge K-2, 3-5 18 K AD760L
Gerstein: The Mountains of Tibet K-2, 3-5 34 O 650L
Gerstein: The Wild Boy K-2, 3-5 38 P/Q 675
Keller: Fiona’s Bee K-2, 3-5 24/28 L/M 550-620L
Ahlberg: Burglar Bill K-3 30 O AD550L
Hoban: Monsters K-3 24/28 L/M 550-620L
LeGuin: Leese Webster K-3 24/28 L/M 550-620L
Lobel: The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments K-3 30 O 625L
Lobel: The Turnaround Wind K-3 20 K 400L
Ryan: Hildilid’s Night K-3 34 O 625L
Segal: The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat K-3 28 L/M 550L
Steig: Rotten Island K-3 28 M 550L
Steig: Yellow and Pink K-3 24/28 L/M 550-620L
Carlson: Time for White Egret 2-3 24/28 L/M 450-550L
Heide: How to be a Hero 2-3 30/34 N/O AD630L
Keller: Fiona’s Bee 2, 3-5 24/28 L/M 550-620L
Anno and Mori: Socrates and the Three Little Pigs 3-5 38/40 P/Q 675L
Benton: Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist – The Fran That Time Forgot  3-5 289/30 N 850L
Cole: The King at the Door 3-5 38/40 O/P 650-700L
Gantschev: Two Islands 3-5 34 O/P 625-675L
Paley: Wally’s Stories 3-5 n/a n/a 530L
Rumford: Island Below the Star 3-5 30/34 M/N 680L
Selznick: The Invention of Hugo Cabret 3-5 40/44 T/U 820L
Steig: The Real Thief 3-5 50 U 960L
Steig: Shrek! 3-5 30 N AD670L
Usher: Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates 3-5 44 V 900L
Author & Title Grade Level Developmental Reading Assessment Level Guided Reading Level Lexile Measure
Babbitt: The Search for Delicious 3-5, 6-8 50 U 910L
Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting 3-5, 6-8 60 W 770L
Mills: Standing Up to Mr. O. 3-5, 6-8 38 P/Q 690L
Patron: The Higher Power of Lucky 3-5, 6-8 50 W 950L
Saint-Exupery: The Little Prince 3-5, 6-8 60 X 710L
Stockton: The Bee-Man of Orn 3-5, 6-8 44/50 W 850L
Konigsburg: The View from Saturday 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 50 U 850L
Mahy: Raging Robots and Unruly Uncles 4-6 40/44 Q/R 760-800L
Parsons: The Upside-Down Cat 4-6 44/50 S/T 775-875L
Babbitt: Knee-Knock Rise 4-7 40 S 760L
Baum: Ozma of Oz 6-8 n/a Z+ 1070L
Ende: The Neverending Story 6-8 44 X 930L
Pearce: Tom’s Midnight Garden 6-8 50 V 860L
Singer: The Cat Who Thought She Was a Dog and the Dog Who Thought He Was a Cat 6-8 n/a W/X/Y 975-1025L
Asher: Thirteen Reasons Why 8-12 n/a Z+ HL550L
Plato: The Ring of Gyges 8-12 n/a Z+ 1100-1200L

*The leveling of these titles was made by Marlene Aviles-Solivan