Picture Books about Inquiry and Questioning
Children have a natural curiosity, giving them a head start in being effective inquirers. These picture books for questioning and inquiry illustrate characters with curiosity and thinking skills going through the inquiry process.
Why Read Picture Books about Inquiry and Questioning?
According to the IBO, inquirers nurture their “curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. [They] know how to learn independently and with others. [They] learn with enthusiasm and sustain [a] love of learning throughout life.”
Children have a natural curiosity, giving them a head start in being effective inquirers. Inquiry skills develop the research skills children need through their academic life and beyond.
The benefits of an inquirer and questioning include:
- fostering curiosity
- developing critical thinking skills
- enhancing problem-solving and research skills
- developing creativity and independence
- increasing student responsibility for their own learning
- encouraging independent thinking
- supporting reasoning skills
Children have a natural ability to ask questions, giving them a head start in being effective inquirers. Inquiry skills develop the research skills your students need through their academic life and beyond.
Using Picture Books about Inquiry and Questioning
Inspire inquiry in your classroom by reading about characters who are independent and effective thinkers who make connections and problem solve.
Use these suggested inquiry books to see inquiry in action with characters who:
- think critically, creatively and reflectively
- build on prior knowledge
- research and gather information, independently
- analyse their findings and those of others
- interpret data
- learn from others
- create new understandings
- understand there may be more than one answer
- present and communicate their findings, explaining their learning
- refine their finding and start the inquiry process again
Most of the characters go through an inquiry process and make surprising discoveries along the way. However, some lack an inquiry attitude. This shows as:
- ignorance and disinterest
- unable to express their views, leading others to disregard their opinions
- uninformed and uninterest in learning and their own education
- fewer opportunities to be successful
- listens to misinformation and doesn’t check different perspectives
Questions to Use with Picture Books about Inquiry and Questioning
- Is there a connection between being curious and being good inquirer?
- What does it mean to be an inquirer?
- Did [character] ask the right questions to further their understanding of the situation? Can you think of any others?
- Did [character] use inquiry skills that would be useful to you?
- Is there a connection between being an inquirer and asking questions?
- How do you know [character] was being an inquirer?
- How did the inquiry process help [character]?
- How do you know the [character] was going through an inquiry process?
- How were the [characters] inquirers?
- Were any of the [characters] curious? How do you know?
- Describe how a character used their curiosity/inquiry process to solve a mystery. Could they have done anything differently?
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Picture Books about Inquiry and Questioning
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada Twist's scientific curiosity leads her to question, hypothesise, experiment and figure out how the world works.
Promotes themes of curiosity, inquiry, knowledge and creative thinking.
Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Roberton
Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician. She is often called the first computer programmer because of an algorithm she wrote for a computing machine.
Use this biography to promote STEM, inquiry, knowledge, gender roles, computing, mathematics, and inventions.
Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe
Avocado is feeling fine until a customer asks if it is a fruit or vegetable. Avocado has no idea how to respond and the question just won’t go away.
Reinforces asking questions, a sense of identity and being positive in your own skin.
The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros
Sat on a beach, a young boy stares out at the sea, thinking and asking questions. As he grows, his questions become more complex, but he still returns to the sea for answers, and to take the time to pause and think.
Use to discuss asking questions, curiosity, perspectives, setting and making connections.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
A severe drought in Malawi caused 14-year-old Kamkwamba to drop out of school to save his family money. He researched how he could bring electricity to his village and built a working windmill from scraps.
A book that promotes responsible decision-making, perseverance, a growth mindset and social awareness.
The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter
There are words that make a boy's heart soar and laugh and also words that make him lonely and sad. He decides to spread words to whoever he thinks will appreciate them.
This book promotes appreciation, communication and inquiry.
Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting
Cece is full of questions and curiosity. She learns “scientific inquiry… can lead to a lot of fun and adventure” when her teacher sets a task to try an experiment. After brainstorming with her friend Isaac, they decide to observe the food Einstein, Cece’s dog, eats. Through the process, she learns about asking questions, creative thinking and perseverance.
The Day of Ahmed's Secret by Florence Parry Heide
Ahmed lives in bustling Cairo and he has a secret, but before he can share it he travels through the city with his donkey and cart selling fuel. After a long, busy day he proudly shows his family how he can now write his own name. Use to discuss hard work while overcoming adversity.
A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
A well-meaning principal learns that learning outside of school can be just as important as being in school.
Reinforces themes of self-management, balance, wellbeing and enthusiasm.
The Fortune-Tellers by Lloyd Alexander
This Cameroon folktale tells of a sly fortune-teller who takes advantage of villagers seeking news of a positive future. When a young carpenter visits, the fortune-teller's predictions come true in an unusual way.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca
No one expected Temple Grandin to be able to talk after being diagnosed with autism. But her ability as a visual thinker helped her connect with animals and invent groundbreaking improvements for the farming industry.
This biography promotes women in science, problem-solving, creative thinking and inquiry.
The Girl with Big, Big Questions by Britney Winn Lee
A young girl asks lots of big questions to everyone she meets, but when her classmates ask her to stop, she stays silent. When there is a crisis in her community, she understands how important her questions are to solving problems and making a difference.
Read to discuss curiosity, questioning, research, persistence, inquiry and problem-solving.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures tells the inspirational story of four black women who worked at NASA in the 1940s. Their intelligence and determination changed the world by putting a man on the moon.
A powerful picture book to promote gender roles, tolerance, inquirers and perseverance.
How To by Julie Morstad
A diverse collection of children show the reader how to do different things in different ways. Read to start discussions on play, curiosity, inquiry, and problem-solving.
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander
A lyrical book on the joy and power reading brings. Kwame Alexander suggests, “get real cozy between the covers and let your fingers wonder as they wander” through the book. He advises the reader not to “rush though: Your eyes need time to taste. Your soul needs room to bloom.”
Islandborn by Junot Díaz
Lola collects memories of the Caribbean island where she was born. She finds out about music, beaches, sweet mangoes, a colourful environment and destructive forces. These tales help Lola’s feel pride in her heritage.
Reinforces themes of belonging, identity, immigration and inquiry.
Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones
Izzy Gizmo is an inventor but her inventions didn’t always work as expected causing Izzy to get cross and quit. But her Grandpa’s advice of not giving up helps her continue her work.
Read to promote a growth mindset, inquiry, perseverance and self-management.
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully
Learn about the work of Margaret E. Knight and her fight against restrictive gender roles in a time when women were not accepted as scientists.
This book deals with gender roles, tolerance, open-mindedness and independence.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A girl and her canine assistant adjust, examine, tweak, fasten, fix, straighten and study to create the most magnificent thing. But not everything works out the way she imagines.
Promotes creative thinking, self-management, perseverance and a growth mindset.
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne
A boy with a brilliant mind imagines evolutionary ideas. This boy grows into Albert Einstein who revolutionised our understanding of the universe.
This biography promotes science, creativity, inventions, perseverance, questioning and curiosity.
The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito
Yoshio lives in Tokyo and listens to the sounds the city creates around him, like a symphony hall. When he meets a musician he learns about the sound of silence in Japanese, ma. He goes on a journey to find ‘ma' in the noisy city.
Read to start discussions on inquiry, mindfulness, and exploration of our local environment.
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sis
Galileo Galilei explored new ideas and challenged scientific beliefs. He discovered that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe and revolved around the Sun. His results were shocking as they challenged the accepted view of the earth held since ancient times.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
As a cat takes a walk different animals see him very differently. Their perception of the cat depends on their own point of view. Some animals only see a blur, others see something big and scary, while others only see a tiny dot from the sky.
The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na
A curious elephant finds a mysterious red object, but it has no idea what it is. His friends can’t help, so the elephant starts experimenting. When the rain begins to fall he finds a great use for the ‘thingamabob’; as an umbrella.
Read to starts discussions on inference, prediction, problem-solving, curiosity, creative thinkers, asking questions and inquiry.
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein
Told in Haiku, Wabi Sabi sets off on a journey to find out the meaning of her name and her identity. She discovers that wabi sabi is a Japanese philosophy of seeing beauty in simplicity.
Read to discuss inquirers, reflection and thinkers.
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
A young boy called Wes creates his own sustainable civilisation called Weslandia. Reinforces themes of inquiry, identity and environmental responsibility.
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
Discover how one great idea can grow and spread around the world. Inspire children to have confidence in their ideas as you never know what can happen!
Reinforces themes of brainstorming, confidence, growth mindset, inspiration, self-esteem and creativity.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
A boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge lives next to an old people’s home. His favourite resident is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper. When Wilfrid finds out she has lost her memory he goes on a journey to discover what memories are so he can help Miss Nancy find hers.
Promotes a sense of community, friendship, compassion and different perspectives.
Wolves by Emily Gravett
Rabbit visits the library to learn about the behaviour of wolves. As it reads, a shadow with sharp claws and a bushy tail creeps off the page. Should the rabbit be wary of this sinister figure?
Zoom by Banyai Istvan
Nothing is quite what it seems in this wordless picture book. The reader zooms into pictures within pictures until they get closer and closer to the action.
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How do you promote inquiry and curiosity in your classroom? Tell me about your favourite inquiry books in the comments!