Want to inspire more curiosity and inquiry in kids?

There’s a whole world of “children’s question books” that can help inspire more curiosity and inquiry in kids—and librarian Traci Sanders has curated more than 80 of the best of them in a new section on this site.

We all know children love to ask questions. Perhaps that explains why so many books written for young kids are in some way question-related—including books with question titles or a questioning theme throughout.

I hadn’t thought much about this phenomenon until Traci Sanders—a longtime school librarian and connoisseur of children’s books—contacted AMoreBeautifulQuestion.com with a suggestion: What if someone brought together all those kids’ questioning books in one place? Traci volunteered to do that, and I offered to host “A Children’s Library of Question Books” on the AMBQ site.

This curated collection of more than 80 books includes a variety of styles aimed at varying age groups, with a strong concentration of Picture Books for young readers, as well as some Early Chapter Books, and a few Middle Reader books. What ties all of these books together is that they tend to foster the concepts of wonder, curiosity, and free-ranging inquiry.

The Librarian Behind “A Children’s Library of Question Books”

In introducing this new feature to visitors of this site, I wanted to also introduce Traci and share her perspective on how the collection was curated and what is offered in it.

First, a bit of background on Traci: She has spent the past two decades working with children’s books, initially as a volunteer with the Denver Public Library’s “Read Aloud” program, and then as a librarian in Denver schools. “I found that the difference even one book could make in a child’s life was really eye-opening,” says Traci. She eventually moved from Denver to Nashua, NH, where she lives today. Along the way, she started the “Red Umbrella Books” website, which has a particular focus on children’s books.

After reading A More Beautiful Question, Traci visited the AMBQ website and came upon the site’s question song playlist—and this sparked her beautiful question which wondered, “What if I created a different kind of list, featuring question books for kids?”

After getting the green light from me, Traci started to compile her list by first sifting through her own site’s collection of books. From there, she searched the Internet, scoured bookstores, and talked to fellow librarians. “It turned out there were even more kids’ questioning books than I had first thought,” she says.

An Inquiry and Curiosity Collection Full of Sub-Categories

Traci found the books tended to fall into certain categories, and that’s how she organized the Library. Beyond the three main categories of Picture, Early Chapter, and Middle Reader books, there are many fascinating sub-categories: “wonder & exploration” books, interactive books, art books, science books, creativity books, and more. (One of my personal favorites is a book in the Biographies category featuring the poet e. e. cummings, whose lines “Always the beautiful answer / Who asks a more beautiful question,” inspired the title of my first question book.)

In some cases, a book title in the children’s library is itself a question; in other cases, questions may run throughout the book. But all of these books revolve around and spark inquiry and curiosity.

Among Traci’s favorites are books that model big open-ended questions—such as, I Wonder Why–type books. “Those aren’t just for kids,” Traci says. “Even for adults, they can make you think about things differently and help you grow.”

Kids and The Questioning Cliff

Traci found the vast majority of kids’ question books are picture books aimed at very young children. Once you get to books aimed at age 7 and up, “there’s a big drop-off in number and there’s also an interesting change in the kinds of questions featured,” she says. “They go from more open-ended to more encyclopedic. There is less wondering and exploring, and more of a tendency to provide quick answers.”

QuestionDropOffChart6-16This reflects what I’ve learned about how the amount and quality of questions from most kids, which fall off a cliff as they become teenagers. There seem to be a variety of societal, educational, and even biological reasons for this, which I explore in more detail in my Beautiful Questions books. Those books, of course, give many examples of why and how it’s so important for people of all ages to hold onto or reclaim their questioning skills.

As many books as there are on our children’s library list, Traci believes there is an “untapped market” for many more question books, especially for those older children and teenagers. She says, “It’s a shame that as kids get older and there is more emphasis on answers, it seems to come at the expense of questions.”

We’d like to thank Traci for curating this collection and writing all the book summaries and descriptions. We plan to keep adding to and updating this list, as we discover new books that fit with the theme. And we invite readers to send us suggestions for kids’ question books to add to the collection.

Visit “A Children’s Library of Question Books” »

My video “What Kills Questioning,” also traces the demise of questioning as we move out of childhood.

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts