Philosophy for Gifted Children

It may surprise both parents and teachers to learn that philosophy is a very accessible topic for children of all ages. Peruse some of the sites listed below and you will see what I mean.

Philosophy is especially appropriate for gifted children. The information provided here can easily be used both at home and at school and will help adults incorporate philosophical questioning into the daily lives of their children.


Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC)--Until recently, philosophy was thought to be a subject too difficult and uninteresting for children. It has now been found that children not only are capable of understanding philosophy. Young people  also need and appreciate philosophy for the same reasons as adults. Philosophy offers children the chance to explore ordinary but puzzling concepts, to improve their thinking, to make more sense of their world, and to discover for themselves what is to be valued.

The IAPC publishes curriculum materials for use in grades K–12. The curriculum consists of novels for students and manuals for teachers. Each novel is about 80 pages in length and is written in informal language, without technical terminology.

Teaching Children Philosophy--What is courage? Do the lives of kids require them to be brave? All you need to do is to read aloud one of the children’s books suggested by the site to a group of elementary school children and then use the question sets provided to guide the discussion of issues.

Be sure to watch the short video of fifth graders discussing whether judgments about art are purely subjective and the video of second graders discussion picture books. The resources section at this site contains a rich list of other websites to help guide adults when teaching philosophy to kids.

Philosophy for Kids--This Web site was developed by Gary Matthews, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It poses stories and questions to guide parents or teachers in philosophical discussions with young children.


Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder About Everything! by David A. White, includes questions such as “Who are your friends?” “Can computers think?” “Can something logical not make sense?” and “Can you think about nothing?” This book, designed for young people in grades 4-12, is packed with activities arranged around the topics of values, knowledge, reality, and critical thinking. The book includes activities, teaching tips, a glossary of terms, and suggestions for further reading.

The Examined Life:Advanced Philosophy for Kids, also by David A. White, is meant as a follow up to Philosophy for Kids. The book offers ways teachers can help students grapple with age-old questions about the nature of friendship (Aristotle), time (Augustine), knowledge (Plato), existence of God (Aquinas), perception (Berkeley), freedom and society (Rousseau), and many more.

In Philosophy for Teens: Questioning Life's Big Ideas, by Paul Thomson and Sharon M. Kaye, the authors examine some of life's biggest topics, such as lying, cheating, love, beauty, the role of government, hate, and prejudice. Both sides of the debates are covered on every issue, with information from some of the world's most noted philosophers. Each chapter includes discussion questions, thought experiments, exercises and activities, and community action steps to help students make reasoned, informed decisions about some of life's greatest debates. The book is targeted at students in grades 7–12.

More Philosophy for Teens: Examining Reality and Knowledge, also written by Paul Thomson and Sharon M. Kaye, was written as a companion book to Philosophy for Teens. In the book, the authors examine some of life’s toughest questions, including identity, God, the universe, freedom, and the meaning of life.

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