Friday, 15 May 2015

Make their brains hurt: Get 'The Little Book of Thunks'

by Rita Kravchuk/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Kids never stop asking questions. Random and sometimes very hard questions. 7.30 am, weekday mornings, when my face is still scrunched up from sleep and my brain is not yet open for business, is my daughter’s favourite time to ping them at me ... 

Why do flamingoes stand on one leg? 
How did the second world war start? 
Why do men have nipples?

... are just some of the beauties I’ve had recently. It’s like her subconscious thinks them up overnight to test me at my mentally weakest point of the day. 

“I just need to concentrate on making the packed lunches right now, sweetheart,” I too often hear myself replying. But my fully-awake self fully appreciates her child’s curiosity and inquisitiveness. And the last thing I want to do is kill it off.

This dinky little book keeps it very much aliv– and takes it even further. It encourages children to look at the world and question everything. 
Inside its deliciously old-fashioned, hard-backed cover there are only questions. And not a single answer.
Very tricky questions ...
Questions which encourage children to think sideways, upside down, in circles ...
Questions which push them think to hard, think deeply ... 
Questions which have no right answer ...
Questions which trigger discussion and invite them to argue their case ...
Questions which delve into all the fuzzy areas ...
It's like beginner philosophy for kids.

I first used our well-thumbed and sticky-fingered copy with my son, when he was eight or nine. I remember taking it on a long ‘walk and talk’ session with him the weekend we got it. “Give me another one,” he’d say and we’d go off into another round of debate – or “verbal fisticuffs” as the author calls it – until we were all thunked out.
Now my daughter, just turned nine, also likes to get stuck into a good thunk. “I like the way your brain has to zig-zag its way through things you've never thought about before," she said. We sometimes do thunks to break up a long car journey or just pluck one to ponder together at a random moment of the day. Though recently she's been asking if we can do a thunk at bedtime. ("Er ... wouldn’t you prefer a Peter Rabbit story?" I say. I’m rubbish at that end of the day too!)
She’s even started making up her own thunks now. She says she likes trying them out on her friends at school. The secret of making a really good thunk, she told me, is to get it “exactly in the middle” so the other person really can't decide which way to answer. Here are some of hers:

Do you own your shadow?
If you have a tattoo, is it part of your body?
If you listen to an audio book, does that count as reading the book?

Maybe it will even boost her confidence in class discussions at school. She told me a while ago that sometimes she wants to put her hand up but doesn't in case her answer sounds silly and isn't the answer the teacher wanted. Thunks teach kids that opinion and fact are not the same thing. That sometimes there is no wrong answer. 

Of course, the downside is it isn’t make my mornings any easier.

“Is zero an odd or an even number?” I got this morning as I was scraping burnt toast and hollering at the Teenager to get out of bed.


The Quirky Parent has FIVE copies of The Little Book of Thunks to give away ... 

For a chance to win one, all you have to do is: 1) Be a 'Liker' of The Quirky Parent Facebook page. 2) Email the word 'Thunk' to The five winners will be randomly chosen and announced here on 29th May, 2015 and contacted by email. This competition is open worldwide. 

This competition is now closed. The winners are: Tracy Whys, Sally Maynard, Haidee Mazaheri, a Novice Mum and Claire Duncan.

'The Little Book of Thunks' is published by Crown House Publishing (£10.99) 


  1. I love the concept of this book. I'd say my little one would love it!

    1. I am surprised how into it my daughter is. I sometimes catch her sitting in the armchair on her own reading it and (I presume) 'thinking'!

  2. Ooo I love the questions in this book. Totally agree its great to get them to think outside of the box. #FamilyTested

  3. Yes, especially as the school system mostly wants them to 'tick the box', not think independently!

  4. Thunks are fab, aren't they? I learnt about them during an INSET at my school a number of years ago; it would be nice to win one for sure. I learnt that I questioned a lot when I was little, so I'm assuming my little one might have lots of questions for me. The idea of making the asking of questions such fun is really appealing. It of course lends itself very well to philosophy for children too. Lovely review and I'm entering your competition! Thanks for linking to #FamilyTested

    1. That's interesting about the INSET day. Maybe we get the questioning knocked out of us as we get older!!! Good luck in the competition!

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