The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask (3rd Through 5th Grade), by Dr. Susan Bartell
This is a fascinating and worthy book mostly because it is written with a different agenda than most books about questions. Most books about questions seek to laboriously think up of questions to ask to gain information to gratify the idle curiosity of the writer and the person asking the question. This is especially true when it comes to questions directed at children, since children tend not to give the sort of answers that are desired of them when it comes to questions. This book, though, does not look so much at the questions we want to ask children but rather the sort of questions that late elementary school age kids will ask their parents or other trusted adults. And not only does this book focus on the questions that kids will ask, but it also looks at the sort of answers that deal with the question behind the question, since what is asked may not always be what is really on the mind, or may spring from deeper concerns that the child may not be able to fully articulate. This is a book that does good serve in helping adults deal with inquisitive children in a way that is age-appropriate but also informative when it comes to some of the fundamental questions, and the author is unafraid to deal with questions of religion as well.
This book is more than 200 pages long and is divided into ten chapters that divide up the 50 most popular questions that are asked by late elementary school students based on what was reported to the author through various surveys. The book begins with acknowledgements and an introduction that discusses this book as part of a series related to the questions that children ask and also give information on how it was that the questions were gathered. After that the book discusses the nagging questions that are particularly common for children to ask, and what it is that children are getting at when they nag adults about what is for dinner as a means of addressing other concerns that they do not know how to or do not want to discuss (1). After that comes a look at questions about the world outside (2) that children want to understand better. This is followed by questions that deal with who is in charge (3) and can be seen to offer challenges to authority. After this come questions relating to fears and how it is that parents can encourage children to be brave (4) in dealing with the world and its dangers, as well as to think about how to address those fears in a constructive manner. After this comes chapters that deal with questions about God (5), relationships with siblings, especially regarding questions of fairness about how siblings are treated with regards to private time, privileges, bed time, and the like (6), money (7), growing up fast and wanting the same privileges that others have (8), private questions about the personal life of adults (9), and one last question that the author deals with at the end about how a parent would like it if their child never asked them questions, before the book ends with information about the author.
What is it that leads certain questions to come up? As someone who is still very fond of asking questions, including questions I have asked before to see if the answers are any different, I tend to ponder the reasons why I ask questions and also tend to think of the reasons that would lead others to ask questions of me. Some questions come about because of idle curiosity. Something triggers a thought and the end result is that one wants to know something and asks someone who one would think knows the answer. For example, once I had a young child ask me what restaurant meant and it prompted an interesting bit of research into French culture and cuisine in the late ancien regime period. Other questions spring from things that bother or trouble us and which it is hard for us to articulate. And this book deals with plenty of those questions, which are worthwhile to think about because they force us to examine ourselves as beings who should be asking the right sort of questions ourselves even though we cannot do so very easily or well.