With the re-designed curriculum in B.C., teachers are preparing to launch the school year with a lot to think about. The best advice I have for wrapping our heads around the big ideas is to ‘start small’ and choose one area for your school to focus on. At my school, we have decided to focus on critical thinking. I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about what will be helpful for supporting my students to think critically – and so, of course, I think of picture books that connect to the three phases of critical thinking – Analyze-Question-Develop.
Here are my top 10 books for promoting Critical Thinking!
1. More-Igami – Dori Kleber
Learning something new takes practice and patience. In this charming story, a boy tries to figure out how an origami crane is made – he analyzes, questions and develops a plan! What a perfect story for introducing critical thinking!
2. The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires
One of the important stages of critical thinking is to analyze a situation and re-direct your thinking if things are not working. When the little girl in this book decides to make a ‘most magnificent thing’, it doesn’t exactly go the way she had plans, resulting in a whole lot of frustration- making this a perfect book to begin the conversation about the importance of thinking critically.
3. What To Do With a Box?– Jane Yolen
What can you turn a simple box into? This simple, charming book by the great Jane Yolen will inspire your students to analyze, question and develop their box into something amazing!
4. What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada
Nurturing ideas and making thinking visible – this story will inspire you to welcome an idea, give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next!
5. Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain – JoAnn Deak
Metacognition is a huge part of being a critical thinker and knowing how your brain works is a great first step in helping making thinking more tangible. I love how this simple book explains how your brain works and how you can shape it. I especially like the focus on how making mistakes, practicing, and gaining new knowledge can “stretch” your brain!
5. The Thingamabob – Il Sung Na
When a curious elephant finds a ‘thingamabob’ – he uses critical thinking to figure out exactly what it is! Simple, playful, delightful! I love how he asks LOTS of questions during the process!
6. Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty
A young girl with big dreams – this text highlights creativity and perseverance with delightful rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations.
Shh! We Have A Plan! – Chris Haughton
Hilarious story of four friends trying to catch a bird. Their plans turn into a ridiculous, tangled mess until the younger uses some critical thinking skills! Fun read-aloud and eye-catching illustrations.
7. Going Places – Peter and Paul Reynolds
This book celebrates the creative spirit and thinking outside the box – both figuratively and literally!
8.. On A Beam of Light – A Story of Albert Einstein – Jennifer Berne
When this picture book biography about the extraordinary life of Albert Einstein was released, I talked about it ALL THE TIME! Big questions, deep thinking, thoughtful reflection – my favorite topics! This book will inspire your students to wonder, think, imagine, and be curious.
9. Learning to Fly – Sebastian Meschenmoser
A simple, charming story about a penguin who believes he can fly and the man who helps him. They plan, design, analyse, re-design… it’s the perfect combination of critical thinking, determination and friendship Love the illustrations so much!
1o. A Home For Bird – Philip C. Stead
While stories about creating something concrete can be used to introduce children to critical thinking, it is important for them to see how critical thinking can be applied to other aspects in our life- including friendship. A Home for Bird is a sweet, tender story of a shy bird and and his thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion. Vernon, the toad, uses critical thinking to figure out just what Bird needs. Love this book!
What books do you like to share that inspire critical thinking?