Big Ideas for Young Thinkers: 20 Questions about Life and the Universe

Written By: Jamia Wilson

Illustrated by: Andrea Pippins

For Ages: 9-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Philosophy, Social Justice, Growing Up, Social Emotional Learning, Critical Thinking.


This week for #sweetsandsocialjustice I wanted to share a book that combines a lot of the social justice principles that I believe are so important, and part of that is intertwining philosophy into critical thinking skill development for readers.

I love the way that author Jamia Wilson brings personal anecdotes while discussing big questions like if an ideal society is possible, what an individual is, and describing what justice is. This book is a framework for philosophical and social justice thinking, as well as a plethora of historical information. Using direct quotes from well-known ancient philosophers and current-day theorists (such as bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins) readers are taken down a path that makes philosophy seem approachable for elementary school level readers. Big Ideas for Young Thinkers is broken down into chapters that cover questions related to different topics like Identity, Life, Truth, Culture, and Creativity. The artwork is, of course, completely gorgeous and small quotes are sprinkled throughout the colorful drawings. I’m completely enamored with this series by Wilson & Pippins, this latest volume is no exception. Infusing a social justice framework into our education strategies and discussions can be aided by brilliant resources such as this. I love how empowering the content is, and how it encourages readers to think deeply about what their unique vision and outlook can bring to the world.

For the recipe this week I was struck by one of the questions posed: what is memory? I started thinking about the baking I used to do as a child (with my mom and experimenting on my own) and the memories I had for some foods. I decided to do what I did as a child, and pull stuff out of the cupboards to see what I could make. What emerged from the oven was delicious, but not especially photogenic (especially a cross-section shot). I made a chocolate cranberry cobbler of sorts, with some pistachios and pecans inside!

This book was kindly sent by Quarto, but all opinions are my own.



3 eggs

3/4c maple sugar

1 stick butter, melted

3T flour

1c cranberries (I used frozen)

1c chocolate chips (I used dark)

1c nuts

Streusel for topping


Preheat oven to 375. Whisk eggs, butter, and sugar together. Whisk in flour, and fold in rest of ingredients. I topped with streusel, and bake in the oven for 45ish minutes.

Jamia Wilson

Jamia Wilson is many things: An activist. A feminist. A storyteller. A mediamaker. But more than anything, she is a natural-born thought leader. As Executive Director and Publisher of Feminist Press at City University of New York, the former Women, Action, and the Media Executive Director, TED Prize Storyteller, and former Vice President of Programs at The Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a powerful force in the social justice movement for nearly a decade. As a leading voice on feminist and women’s rights issues, her work and words have appeared in and on several outlets such as New York MagazineThe Today Show, and The Washington Post. She’s also a staff writer forRookieand has contributed to several books such as Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop, and I Still Believe Anita Hill. But what we’re most excited about is her own book that she’s currently writing about Beyonce and feminism. (Yes, really.) It’s no surprise she was named in Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism.

Andrea Pippins

Andrea Pippins is an illustrator, designer, and author who has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She has done work with brands such as Free People, Lincoln Center, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Andrea is the author of I Love My Hair, a coloring book featuring her illustrations celebrating various hairstyles and textures, and Becoming Me, for young women to color, doodle, and brainstorm their way to a creative life.  Andrea’s new book, Young, Gifted & Black, was released Spring 2018. Andrea produces artwork with a mission to create what she wants to see and a vision to empower women and girls of color and people in underserved communities with visual tools to own and tell their own stories.

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