As teenagers navigate the path between childhood and adulthood, their minds are fertile ground for seeds of wisdom to take root and flourish. The introduction of philosophical thought can be pivotal, prompting teens to explore, question, and shape their understanding of the world. Here are some books we’ve come across in our homeschool journey that we have loved or are planning on reading.
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1) Jostein Gaarder’s “Sophie’s World” sets the stage for this grand intellectual journey. On the surface, it’s a novel, weaving a tale of a young girl who begins receiving mysterious letters from a philosopher. As the narrative unfolds, it takes readers through an exciting odyssey traversing the timeline of Western philosophy.
The novel’s unique fusion of storytelling with deep philosophical discussions provides teens with an engaging, accessible introduction to complex philosophical concepts. It prompts them to ponder profound questions about life, existence, morality, and truth – fundamental considerations for developing a personal identity.
2) For teenagers seeking to unpack philosophy’s intricate labyrinth, “The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained” serves as an ideal guide. Using clear language and captivating illustrations, this book dissects dense philosophical ideas, making them understandable and relatable.
This exposure to varied philosophies can stimulate teenagers’ analytical abilities, encouraging them to dissect complex problems and uncover multiple perspectives. The cultivation of these skills extends beyond mere intellectual pursuits, fostering adaptability and resourcefulness – traits essential in an ever-evolving world.
3) “The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Thought Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher” by Julian Baggini delves deeper into philosophy’s challenging questions through thought-provoking experiments. While not exclusively written for teens, its engaging, thought-provoking format makes it a valuable resource for them. It incites curiosity, stimulates creativity, and promotes self-reflection, helping teenagers build the foundation for their belief systems. This ability to question, analyze, and rationalize beliefs can lead to improved self-confidence and decisiveness.
4) David White’s “Philosophy For Kids: 40 Fun Questions That Help You Wonder about Everything!” breaks down philosophy into simple, yet profound questions. It provides an excellent introduction to philosophical inquiry, inspiring teenagers to question, debate, and seek answers. This practice encourages an inquisitive mindset, an essential trait for lifelong learning and innovation.
5) This book is on of my favorites for teens. “Lives Of The Stoics“ by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. I read this together with my 13 and 14 year old kids and had them take notes of their impressions of each stoic philosopher presented in this book. I was amazed at the insights they found.
Stoic philosophy has so much to offer teens as they navigate emotions and social changes in their lives. The book shines a spotlight on the biographies of both renowned and relatively obscure Stoics by examining their adversities and triumphs; and how they handle success and disappointments.
6) This book is probably more appealing to younger kids, but I have to mention it anyway: “Children’s Book of Philosophy: An Introduction to the World’s Great Thinkers and Their Big Ideas” by DK is a favorite in our house among the 7 – 12 year olds. Of all our DK illustrated books, I often catch one of our kids going through this quietly by themselves.
This book traverses epochs, from antiquity to contemporary times, exploring timeless questions such as “Who am I?”, “Does reality truly exist?”, and “Is dishonesty ever justified?”. It offers a little peak into the lives and works of philosophers like Socrates, Confucius, Immanuel Kant, Simone de Beauvoir, and many more who don’t shy away from the complexities of human existence.