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A Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children's Literature [Kindle Edition]

Thomas E. Wartenberg

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Book Description

Taking Picture Books Seriously: What can we learn about philosophy through children's books?

This warm and charming volume casts a spell on adult readers as it unveils the surprisingly profound philosophical wisdom contained in children's picture books, from Dr Seuss's Sneetches to William Steig's Shrek!. With a light touch and good humor, Wartenberg discusses the philosophical ideas in these classic stories, and provides parents with a practical starting point for discussing philosophical issues with their children. Accessible and multi-layered, it answers questions like, Is it okay for adults to deceive kids? What's the difference between saying the Mona Lisa is a great painting and vanilla is your favorite flavor? Each chapter includes illustrations commissioned especially for this book.

Product Description


This is a great resource for those interested in pre–college philosophy and in elementary education, and for parents generally.  It also will be useful to upper–level philosophy and education students looking for novel approaches within their disciplines.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Lower–level undergraduates and above; general readers.   (Choice, 1 November 2013)

"Filled with humor and keen insights, A Sneetch is a Sneetch and other Philosophical Discoveries is essential reading for anyone with an interest in philosophy or children′s literature – and by anyone, I mean anyone – from the mom or dad looking for something interesting to read to their toddler, to writers of every ilk, and yes, even full fledge, academically inclined philosophers. Happy pondering!!."  (History in Review, 3 June 2013)


This is a wonderful book. Written with humor and clarity, it′s a primer/refresher on philosophy and ethics. Wartenberg uses children′s books to tackle the kinds of profound questions kids ask: is it possible to do nothing? What makes a leopard a leopard and not a dog? How can it be wrong to give someone what they want? The book shows the way to discussions in the realm of ideas with your kids, using their favorite picture books. Good picture books provoke good questions, and then the fun of thinking and talking about all the possible answers.

Mordicai Gerstein, Caldecott winning author of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

"Wartenberg simultaneously shows the philosophical seriousness of children′s literature and the childlike wonder of philosophy. Completely convincing and utterly charming."

  Claudia Mills, Philosophy Department, University of Colorado at Boulder, and award–winning children′s book author

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2787 KB
  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470656832
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (28 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #683,869 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent method to teach philosophy to the general public 7 Aug. 2013
By SJMD - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an individual with a deep interest in philosophy, I have usually been disappointed in philosophy books aimed at the general public (with the notable exception of Sophie's World). The authors usually paraphrase an introductory college course and the result is usually an inapplicable, uninteresting and often excessively verbose text. A Sneetch is a Sneetch is a wonderful exception to this trend. In 16 chapters, using 16 different children's picture books (some classics), all of the important modern and classical philosophical questions are covered using the stories as 'real life' applications. As such, the book is not only a valuable source to teach philosophy to adults, but also provides an intelligent way to read these books with children.

I was throughly delighted with the book. It clarified concepts such as deconstruction and ordinary language philosophy, and provided a nice review of multiple fields including existentialism, philosophy of language, ethics, and epistemology.

Although one does not have to buy the children's books to read A Sneetch is a Sneetch (Professor Wartenberg provides a short overview of the story in each chapter), I recommend that you do. It brings the questions into life and you can subsequently read the book with your children, if applicable.

This was a great work and I truely hope it receives a wide readership.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous resource for provoking thought! What better way to introduce philosophical ideas than through the books kids love! 4 Oct. 2013
By Laurie A. Coughlin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
“Wisdom begins in Wonder”, states our old friend Socrates – a claim that Professor Wartenberg so expertly and light-heartedly illustrates in “A Sneetch is a Sneetch”. Through thoughtful dissection of some of our best-loved children’s books, Wartenberg selects the philosophical elements living within and shows how they can be used to cultivate intriguing discussions with children which serve to enhance their natural tendency to “wonder about things”.

Throughout the pages of “A Sneetch is a Sneetch”, we find, for instance, snippets of metaphysics in “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, or principles of ethics existing in “The Giving Tree”. At the end of each chapter, Professor Wartenberg graciously provides direction on opening up discussions of the various philosophical ideas with children.

This is a delightful, thought-provoking read which serves as a wonderful resource for those interested in encouraging children to further investigate the things they naturally wonder about. What better way to introduce philosophical ideas than through the books kids love! Wisdom begins in Wonder, indeed!
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected. 9 May 2014
By Picky Consumer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have often said I should write a thesis on "The Sneetches" and thought perhaps this would be it! But it is way too deep to enjoy, and mostly about other Seuss works, less about the Sneetches. Save this one for Philosophy class!
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