I have been working in the school library now for a few weeks. We are doing a summer reading campaign and I have to come up with a book suggestion as well as an activity. I chose Sophie’s World as the story has loads of content that you can turn into a discussion. I tend to reread this book every two years because my memory is like a sieve. I love reading about the different philosophers.
I plan to introduce the story and what philosophy is. After, I will invite the students to look at some envelops with
‘…the only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wander…’
written on the front. This text is taken directly from the book. The envelop will also have ‘OPEN ME’ on the front. I guess I am mixing a little of Alice in Wonderland in there too. The students will be asked to open the envelops and inside will be a question that is raised in the book. We will then share our ideas.
I have put a summary and the questions below, just in case you would like to take part .
Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian writer, who is best known for Sophie’s World, which has been translated into 60 languages. The story is about 14 year old Sophie. One day she comes home from school and finds strange letters addressed to her in the postbox. They contain questions, which jolt her out of her everyday life, making her question the world.
Sophie then receives another letter and this time it is a course in philosophy. In the letter, it introduces what philosophy is all about. It uses the metaphor that there are people who watch a magician pull a white rabbit from a hat and never ask how it was done. Then there are those who want to know how this mysterious trick happened. This is philosophy, asking how the mysteries in life have come about. In the letter it also goes on to say that the white rabbit being pulled out of the magician’s hat is the world, and we are snuggled deep in its fur. Only philosophers will climb the strands of the fur to look out and see what is out there.
Are you snuggled in the fur? Today we will climb out and ask some philosophical questions.
Is there any will or meaning behind what happens?
Who are you?
Where does the world come from?
Are we the only ones?
What is the most important thing in life?
The one thing I need to be watchful over is that the students respect each other beliefs. This is the sort of discussion activity I would have loved at school. I hope it inspires some of the kids to read Sophie’s World. We start the campaign next week. Fingers crossed it will go well.
A.J. York is a middle grade and children's writer. Author of Delilah Dusticle, Eliza Bluebell and A Fairy Extraordinary Christmas Story. A.J York has a Swedish and British background and currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.