Image of children sitting on the floor in a classroom, raising their arms.

Wise Owl: Talking and Thinking about Children’s Literature

Wise Owl: Talking and Thinking about Children’s Literature is a curriculum series designed to use children’s literature to provide primary school students the opportunity to explore philosophical questions while developing critical and creative thinking skills. Each Wise Owl packet includes a Teacher’s Guide to the philosophical issues in a children’s book and to facilitating philosophical discussions with young people, along with reproducible Activity Cards with philosophical discussion questions based on the book. Similar guides to other children’s books can be found at Matthews’ “Philosophy for Kids” website.

Wise Owl was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the late Gareth B. Matthews—then a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—Lenore Carlisle Reilly—then a doctoral student in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the same University, as well as an elementary school language resource teacher, who is currently Secretary of the College and an Assistant Professor of Education atMount Holyoke College—and Shari Tishman, then a masters student in Critical and Creative Thinking at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and currently a Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Senior Research Associate at Harvard Project Zero. Originally published by Sundance Publishers & Distributors, Inc. in Marlborough, Massachusetts, the complete series is published here by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children with the permission of Reilly, Tishman, and the estate of Matthews on the condition that it not be used for commercial purposes.

Teacher’s Guides and Guidelines for Discussion