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Here’s a wonderful idea for a children’s book. A book encouraging children to question and appreciate the world around them. A book that isn’t afraid to tell kids “I don’t know!”

It’s the brainchild of Annaka Harris. She has launched it as a project in Kickstarter (see I Wonder by Annaka Harris).

Here’s how Annaka describes the background to the project:

Before my daughter turned two, she began ignoring questions she couldn’t answer. Then she moved on to giving answers she knew to be false. I realized that she had grown accustomed to being celebrated every time she answered a question correctly and was, naturally, less interested in exchanges that didn’t produce this response. But I also realized something even more important: I hadn’t taught her to say “I don’t know” let alone celebrated her ability to do so.

I believe that one of the most important gifts we can give our children is the confidence to say “I don’t know.” It’s the foundation from which we begin our investigation of the world: asking questions, taking the necessary time to understand the answers, and searching for new answers when the ones we have in hand don’t seem to work. The feeling of not knowing is also the source of wonder and awe.

In all social and emotional learning, children need our help identifying the many new feelings they experience: “Oh, that Batman costume scared you,” or “I know, you feel sad when Mommy leaves.” So I went looking for a children’s book that would help me talk about the experience of not knowing with my daughter, but I couldn’t find one…

So she is producing one – a 24-page picture book for children ages one and up. The image above is a composite sketch by the artist she has found to help her, John Rowe.

I liked the way Annaka justifies the need for such a book in her proposal:

We live in a society where people are uncomfortable with not knowing. Children aren’t taught to say “I don’t know,” and honesty in this form is rarely modeled for them. They too often see adults avoiding questions and fabricating answers, out of either embarrassment or fear, and this comes at a price. To solve the world’s most challenging problems, we need innovative minds that are inspired in the presence of uncertainty. Let’s support parents and educators who are raising the next generation of creative thinkers.

Annaka Harris is a freelance editor of popular science books and Co-Founder of Project Reason.

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