Big Ideas From Literature by The School of Life

Big Ideas From Literature – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Literary, informative, inspiring, creative, positive.
Children’s book title: Big Ideas From Literature.
Children’s author: The School of Life.
Children’s illustrator: Anna Doherty.
Genre: Non-fiction.
Published by: The School of Life.
ISBN: 9781915087485.
Recommended for children aged: 9+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback March 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Book lovers and aspiring authors.

Big Ideas From Literature by The School of Life

To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.

Our review:

Big Ideas From Literature gives an in-depth examination of the key, but often unexamined questions surrounding reading, including how and why we do it and what stories can do for us.

We need great stories to keep beaming wise ideas back into our brains.

Subtitled ‘How Books Can Change Your World’, Big Ideas from Literature is written and published by The School of Life, a business and educational collective who aim to “help us to understand ourselves better and thereby to grow calmer, less confused and more purposeful.”

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The book’s sections include:

  • What actually is literature? – defined as “Stories that teach you important things”, the book begins with an examination of what literature can teach us and how it does this through the medium of storytelling rather than a recital of facts.
  • The story of stories – an examination of the development of books and writing, from clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia and Egyptian hieroglyphs, to Gutenberg’s printing press and modern-day film adaptations.
  • Literature and feelings – how books can help us to understand and express our feelings, including happiness, love, encouragement and a desire for acceptance and belonging.
  • Why do you like your favourite books – note pages for readers to fill in what books they like and why they enjoy them, encouraging a deeper reflection about our reading choices rather than just listing the latest best-sellers.
  • The future of books – a consideration of how books and reading may develop in the years to come, including technological advances and personalised stories, with a call for readers to consider writing their own stories.

Books can be a friend when you need one most and you can use them to help and inspire others too.

The text is both informative and playful, with a continual focus on promoting a love of reading and developing our full potential. The copious colour illustrations, clear language and engaging style will make it appealing to both reluctant and confident readers.

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The majority of the specific books discussed are established classics such as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy. But consideration is also paid to more modern texts such as Onjali Raúf’s The Boy At the Back Of The Class with its portrayal of refugees, and Bruce Emu’s Young Dark Emu, which considers how Aboriginal Australians lived before the arrival of British settlers.

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There are lots of self-reflection prompts throughout the book, encouraging readers to consider their reactions to specific situations and how books can help us to cope with life’s difficulties. A creative writing activity pack to accompany the book is also available to download for free on The School of Life’s website.

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Big Ideas From Literature is an original non-fiction text that would be a great resource for school libraries and classrooms. The book provides both adults and children with a greater insight into the power of stories and how books and reading really can change our world.

Many thanks to The School of Life for the review copy.

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If you like Big Ideas From Literature by The School of Life you might also like: our reviews of Absolutely Everything by Christopher Lloyd, Growing Up Powerful by Nona Willis Aronowitz, Fighting in a World on Fire by Andreas Malm, Musical Truth by Jeffrey Boakye and Happy Healthy Minds by The School of Life.

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About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon