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Education - Philosophy for Children

These are resources for research about and use of philisophical inquiry with children's books and other curriculum-based materials. The Philosophy for Children (P4C) model encourages children to answer big questions and engage in critical thinking.

Doucette Library Resources

Use the catalogue with these search terms and use the filters on the left side (or on the bottom of the mobile app) to find materials located in the Doucette Library.

1. About philosophical inquiry in education - Use these search terms: 

  • "philosophy for children"
  • philosophy AND  (education OR "study and teaching")
    Limit by Library -> Doucette
  • "thought and thinking" AND (education OR "study and teaching")

2. Books to use for philosophical inquiry with children (P4C practice) :

  • Locate a title on one of the sites listed on the 'P4C Materials' tab
    Use the catalogue to search for the specific title. Limit results to Item Type -> Book, Library -> Doucette
  • Look at books and links from our Doucette Library Pinterest boards. The boards are organized by subject and they have links to the location information.

3. Kits to use for philosophical inquiry with children (P4C practice):

  • The best way to discover kits is to browse the Doucette Library collection in person
    Kits in the 500-599 are topics related to pure science like magnetism, animals, chemistry, etc.
    Kits in the 600-699 are topics related to technology including farming, robotics, human body, etc.
    Kits in the 700-799 are topics related to art, recreation, games, music
  • The' P4C Materials - Kits' tab has some examples.
  • Search the catalogue using general phrases and limit items to Library -> Doucette and Item Type ->Other

These filters are most helpful:

  • Library -> Doucette Library
  • Item Type -> Books OR Item Type -> Other (for kits!)
  • Location -> Picture Books


Suggestion 1

Doucette Library bug_perspective_P4C KitsI-glasses a compound eye simulation
 Call Number: 591.44 IG 2000 A/V  Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Animal eye viewers
 Call Number: 591.44 AN 2012 A/V  Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Insect specimen mounts
 Call Number: 595.7 INS 2005 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Some possible philosophical inquiry questions:
Are bugs scary? If you could see through the eyes of a bug, would you find bugs scary? Does learning about something make it less scary? Can you really know what it’s like to see the world like a bug or what it’s like to be a bug?

Suggestion 2

P4C - Skull_claw_predator_prey kitAmerican bison skull replica
 Call Number: 599.643 AME 2018 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Red Fox skull replica
 Call Number: 599.775 RED 2014 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Animal claw replicas
 Call Number: 599.47 AN 2007 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection

Some possible philosophical inquiry questions:
Are predators necessarily bad? Can prey be bad? Are humans predators? Are humans bad? What makes something food?

Suggestion 3

Doucette Library illusion P4C KitsCopper optical illusion spinner
 Call Number: 535 CO 2005 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection

The original reversible magenetic sand timer
Call Number: 535 CO 2005 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection



Some possible philosophical inquiry questions:
Does seeing something make it real? If something is invisible (e.g. a magnetic field), does it mean it isn’t real? Can you trust your senses? What constitutes proof?

Suggestion 4

Doucette Library robot_AI_coding P4C KitsLittlecodr: teaching kids to think differently
 Call Number: 794.8 Lit 2015 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection
EZ-Robot: JD Humanoid
 Ask at Doucette Library main desk for borrowing policy



Some possible philosophical inquiry questions:
Is artificial intelligence actual intelligence? Are thoughts like algorithms? Do robots think? Are humans biological robots?

Suggestion 5

Doucette Library aesthetic_art_garbage P4C KitsBottlecap monkey
 Call Number: 731 BO 2006 REALIA   Location:  Doucette Library Main collection

Recycled art portfolio prints
 Call Number: 745 RE 1997 A/V   Location: Doucette Library Main collection



Some possible philosophical inquiry questions:
Can garbage be art? Can art be garbage? What makes something trash? Can ugly things be beautiful? What is art? What is beauty? How are they related?


Databases to Try 

  • ERIC
  • Academic Search Complete
  • Philosopher's Index
  • Phil Papers


Search Terms to Use

For general searches, try the following keywords:

  • “philosophy for children” OR “philosophy with children” OR p4c OR pfc OR “philosophy education”

You can also try: 

  • "thought and thinking"
  • "study and teaching"

For more specific searches, try the above keywords and include additional concepts as needed. For example, to search for philosophy for children in elementary schools, you might try:

  • “philosophy for children” OR “philosophy with children” OR p4c OR pfc OR “philosophy education”


“elementary school” OR “primary school” OR “grade school” OR “early childhood” OR preschool





Studies and Papers on the Benefits of P4C Programming:

Vocabulary and comprehension

  • (De Rivera, Girolametto, Greenberg, & Weitzman, 2005; Dyfed County Council, 1994; Fields, 1995; Haas, 1980; Lipman, Sharp, Oscanyan, 1977; Wartenberg, 2009; Williams, 1993)

Oration and Articulation

  • (Dyfed County Council, 1994; Lipman, Sharp, Oscanyan, 1977; Siddiqui, Gorard, & See, 2017; Wartenberg, 2009)

Creative, Critical Thinking, & Reasoning Skills, and Curiosity

  • (Daniel, Gagnon, & Pettier, 2012; Doherr, 2000; Downey, 2016; Lipman, 1995; Lipman, Sharp, Oscanyan, 1977; Säre, Luik, & Tulviste, 2016; Sasseville, 1994; Siddiqui, Gorard, & See, 2017; Wartenberg, 2009; Williams, 1993)

Open-Mindedness, Self-Reflection, Empathy, & Emotional Intelligence

  • (Doherr, 2000; Downey, 2016; Lipman, Sharp, Oscanyan, 1977; Pritchard, 1995)


  • (Dyfed County Council, 1994; Sasseville, 1994)

Developing and Defending a Position

  • (Daniel, Gagnon, & Pettier, 2012; Säre, Luik, & Tulviste, 2016)

Constructive Feedback and Critique

  • (Lipman, Sharp, Oscanyan, 1977; Wartenberg, 2009)

Listening Skills

  • (Dyfed County Council, 1994; Freire, 1998; Siddiqui, Gorard, & See, 2017)


Papers Linking P4C Programming to Various Literacies:

Emotional Literacy

  • (Steiner, 2003)

Critical Literacy

  • (Bajovic & Elliott, 2011)

Moral & Ethical Literacy

  • (Bajovic & Elliott, 2011; Chapman, 2001)

Information/News Literacies

  • (Lenart & Lewis, 2019)



  • Bajovic, M., & Elliott, A. (2011). The intersection of critical literacy and moral literacy: Implications for practice. Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, 5(1), 27-37. Retrieved from
  • Chapman, S. (2001). The Importance of the Hunter Education Program to the Development of Ethical Literacy Among the Hunting Community. The Institute for Applied & Professional Ethics. Retrieved from
  • Daniel, M. F., Gagnon, M., & Pettier, J. C. (2012). Philosophy for children and the developmental process of dialogical critical thinking in groups of preschool children. In By J. A. Sutterby (Ed.), Early education in a global context. (pp.159-181). doi: 10.1108/S0270-4021(2012)0000016010
  • De Rivera, C., Girolametto, L., Greenberg, J., & Weitzman, E. (2005). Children’s responses to educators’ questions in day care play groups. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 14(1), 14–26.
  • Doherr, E. (2000). The demonstration of cognitive abilities central to cognitive behavioural therapy in young people: Examining the influence of age and teaching method on degree of ability (Unpublished clinical psychology doctoral dissertation).University of East Anglia.
  • Downey, A. (2016). Critical information literacy: Foundations, inspiration, and ideas. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.
  • Dyfed County Council. (1994). Improving reading standards in primary schools project. Wales: Dyfed County Council.
  • Elmborg, J. (2006). Critical information literacy: Implications for instructional practice. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 32(2), 192-199.
  • Fields, J. (1995). Empirical data research into the claims for using philosophy techniques with young children. Early Child Development and Care,107, 115–128.
  • Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy, and civic courage.Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 
  • Gangwer, T. (2017, March). Exploring the 21st century literacies. SEEN Magazine, 18(3), 43-45. Retrieved from
  • Haas, H. (1980). Appendix B: Experimental research in philosophy for children. In M. Lipman, A. M. Sharp & F. Oscanyon (Eds.), Philosophy in the classroom. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
  • Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012). Guided inquiry design. Retreieved from
  • Lenart, B. A. and Lewis, C. J. (2019). Shaking up story time: A case for shaping the nature of information literacy instruction in public and school libraries through philosophy. Journal of Information Literacy, 13(1), pp. 3–20.
  • Lipman, M. (2017). The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) program. In S. Naji & R. Hashim (Eds.), History, theory and practice of Philosophy for Children: International perspectives (pp. 3-11). London: Routledge.
  • Lipman, M. (1995). Educating for violence reduction and peace development: The philosophical community of inquiry approach. In J. P. Portelli & R. F. Reed (Eds.), Children, philosophy & democracy(pp.121–138). Calgary, AB: Detselig Enterprises.
  • Lipman, M., Sharp, A. M., Oscanyan, F. (eds.). (1977). Growing up with philosophy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Pietila, N. (2017, March). The top 10 literacies in education today [blog post]. Advancing K12 Blog.Retrieved from
  • Pritchard, M. S. (1996). Reasonable children. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
  • Roberge, G. D. (2013. June). Promoting critical literacy across the curriculum and fostering sager learning environments. What Works? Research into Practice, 48. Retrieved from
  • Sare, E., Luik, P., & Tulviste, T. (2016). Improving pre-schoolers’ reasoning skills using the Philosophy for Children programme. Trames, 20(3), 273-295.
  • Sasseville, M. (1994). Self esteem, logical skills and philosophy for children. Thinking, 4(2), 30–32.
  • Sharp, A. M. (2017). Philosophical novel. In S. Naji & R. Hashim (Eds.), History, theory and practice of Philosophy for Children: International perspectives (pp. 18-29). London: Routledge.
  • Sharp, A. M. (2017b). Philosophy in the school curriculum. In S. Naji & R. Hashim (Eds.), History, theory and practice of Philosophy for Children: International perspectives (pp. 30-42). London: Routledge.
  • Shor, I. (1999). What is critical literacy? Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, 1(4). Retrieved from
  • Siddiqui, N., Gorard, S., & See, B. H. (2017). Can programmes like Philosophy for Children help schools look beyond academic attainment? Educational Review, pp. 1-20.
  • Steiner, C. (2003). Emotional literacy: Intelligence with a heart. Retrieved from
  • Wartenberg, T. E. (2009). Big ideas for little kids: Teaching philosophy through children’s literature. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
  • Williams, S. (1993). Evaluating the effects of philosophical enquiry in a secondary school. Derbyshire, England: Derbyshire County Council.

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