Annaka Harris’ New Children’s Book Extols the Virtue of Saying ‘I Don’t Know’

It was just over a year ago when Annaka Harris launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her new children’s book I Wonder:

I Wonder is about a little girl named Eva who takes a walk with her mother and encounters a range of mysteries — from gravity, to life cycles, to the vastness of the universe. She learns to talk about how it feels to not know something, and she learns that it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Eva discovers that she has much to learn about the world and that there are many things even adults don’t know — mysteries for everyone in the world to wonder about together!

A wonderful premise. Today, that book is finally available for preorder — it’ll be published on October 15:

Husband Sam Harris gives the book a rave review :)

I am very happy to announce that my wife and editor, Annaka Harris, has published her first book. The purpose of I Wonder is to teach very young children (and their parents) to cherish the feeling of “not knowing” as the basis of all discovery. In a world riven by false certainties, I can think of no more important lesson to impart to the next generation.

Couldn’t agree more. It’s a book secular parents can read to their kids at night and discuss for a long time to come. We could use more of those.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Randy Meyer

    I want this book to read to my sons, ages 7 and 4. They don’t ask about much when it comes to the meta-physical but it never hurts to be prepared.

  • Carly Sturgeon

    Agreed 100%!

  • Christopher Salihe Payne

    RIGHT?! I don’t get people who feel the need to have overly simplistic answers to every single question to the point of simply inventing answers to suit their preference. It’s like when creationists ask, “Well, what happened before the Big Bang?” That’s a valid question and one that I’d love to see answered. As it stands now, though, I haven’t the foggiest idea, and neither does anyone else that I’m aware of. And that not knowing doesn’t, unlike them, scare the shit out of me. If we already knew everything there was to know, there’d be no point in trying to discover anything, that discovery is, in my opinion, the greatest part of being human :D

    • Mick

      I always remind them of just how limited is the knowledge of each individual by saying, “I haven’t got a clue how the Universe works. I don’t even know how my refrigerator works.”

    • SecularPatriot

      It’s not that we should teach kids to say, “I don’t know,” to everything, but to encourage speculative responses with the *knowledge* that they don’t know for sure.

    • UWIR

      Fundies keep saying things like “Atheists don’t have an answer to this question, but we do”, like “having an answer” is the important thing. I’d rather have no answer at all than have the wrong answer.

  • Tainda

    I will be buying this for my granddaughter. She’s only a year old so will just save it for a few years :)

    • allein

      My best friend’s daughter just turned 1 last month; every present I’ve gotten her has been books and I have a few waiting for Christmas. Gonna add this one to the pile :)

      • Tainda

        It’s a good thing! She loves books already and I read to her every time she is with me.

        I was the kid that would rather be in my room reading than outside playing

        • allein

          Heh, me too…I used to bring a book to family gatherings because I was the only girl in my age bracket (my female cousins are all much older than me and I didn’t usually want to play with the boys). My friend wants to turn her daughter into a reader “just like her mommy” and I am more than happy to do my part (especially since I work for a book distribution center and I get a discount in our stores). :)

  • Marty

    I can’t post this on my Facebook page. Too many of my friends who are parents of young children would know what their child will be getting as a gift from me.

  • Mitch

    Fantastic idea. I’m nowhere close to being a parent, but I may get a copy anyway. It’s never too late to learn, right?

  • Jeffrey Crook

    Proud to be a Kickstarter supporter … got our copy in the mail yesterday … wonderful story/message and illustrations.

    • ImRike

      Yes, I got mine today! I had the e-copy before, but this is truly a wonderful children’s book.

  • Jeff

    Wow, I would really like to present this to my grandson(s), when they are a little older (they are 3 and 1). Unfortunately, their parents are strong believers. We have managed to keep our atheism and their belief separate for now. I know the day will come that will not be pretty or pleasant when we have a serious disagreement. I think this may be one time not to poke the monster with a stick. I guess I will just have to continue to answer my grandson’s questions with honesty, and let his parents try to explain why papa doesn’t believe.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Not to pry, but I’m genuinely curious. Being an atheist, I’ll assume that your son or daughter here weren’t indoctrinated into any particular religion so I’m guessing that happened later in life. How though? Or why? I’m not sure what I’m trying to ask but you know what I mean.

      • Jeff

        Not my biological children. My wife’s daughter was, prior to getting married to her spouse, pretty non-committal as a believer. Changed significantly with her marriage and moving to Louisiana. At first, we thought it was a community thing, but it has become more than just a close group of friends. We stay out of it. Sometimes, battle has no winners.

  • L.G. Keltner

    I’d love to read this book to my kids. False certainties prevent people from asking the questions that can lead to fantastic discoveries. I want my children to know how to ask intelligent questions and to use uncertainty as a motivation to seek out the answers.

  • alconnolly

    One of my favorite quotes/motto’s is: “I prefer to live with questions that may not be answered, rather than answers that may not be questioned.”

  • Art_Vandelay

    Oh, Sam Harris likes it?

    The confidence to say “I don’t know” is actually the greatest gift I’ve ever given to my daughter.

    Just kidding…it was totally an iPad. Then the confidence to say “I don’t know.”

    • islandbrewer

      “Dad, does this iPad have a port so I can download stuff directly without having to wait for our superslow WiFi?”

      “I don’t know.”


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