Little Owl's Book of Thinking

An Introduction to Thinking Skills

By: Ian Gilbert


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Products specifications
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Size: 174mm x 124mm
Pages : 96
ISBN : 9781904424352
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2004

Little Owl's Book of Thinking squeezes years of research, teaching and experience into seven chapters, two owls and a whole forest of woodland creatures.

Following the seven lessons Benny the owlet receives from his wise old father, this book will show you how to think and think well. Ideal for teachers, parents and older children, this book is an excellent introduction to the concept of thinking skills and why they are so important.

Education Resources Awards 2005 – Highly Commended in the Secondary Books Category.

Picture for author Ian Gilbert

Ian Gilbert

Since establishing Independent Thinking 25 years ago, Ian Gilbert has made a name for himself across the world as a highly original writer, editor, speaker, practitioner and thinker, and is someone who the IB World magazine has referred to as one of the world's leading educational visionaries.

The author of several books, and the editor of many more, Ian is known by thousands of teachers and young people across the world for his award-winning Thunks books. Thunks grew out of Ian's work with Philosophy for Children (P4C), and are beguiling yet deceptively powerful little philosophical questions that he has created to make children's – as well as their teachers' – brains hurt.

Ian's growing collection of bestselling books has a more serious side too, without ever losing sight of his trademark wit and straight-talking style. The Little Book of Bereavement for Schools, born from personal family experience, is finding a home in schools across the world, and The Working Class – a massive collaborative effort he instigated and edited – is making a genuine difference to the lives of young people from some of the poorest backgrounds.

A unique writer and editor, there is no other voice like Ian Gilbert's in education today.

See for yourself.

Ian was winner of The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society's inaugural Educational Writers Award (Nov 2008) for 'The Little Book of Thunks' - Click here for more information on the book.

Re-framing the Education Debate with Independent Thinker, Ian Gilbert.

Click here to read Ian Gilbert’s blog.

Click here to read Ian's article in International Teacher Magazine.


  1. This book gives you the essence of thinking skills gift wrapped in an intriguing storyline and decorated with metaphor, humour and word plays ” a fascinating starting point for teachers and pupils which will leave them wanting more.
  2. This book made me laugh and gain real insight into thinking skills. It brought back memories of “Emile” by Rousseau as learning is made meaningful and the author stimulates the reader with vivid stories. The fifth oak is very relevant for teachers and support staff who work with disaffected and disturbed learners. The emphasis is on a learning ethos which encourages learners to face up to things, to have a go and get rid of the “I can't do it ” attitude so prevalent in many of our schools. An excellent, stimulating little book which packs a great punch and is a must for every school staffroom. Ian Gilbert, take that train journey again.
  3. Ian Gilbert's book came out of years of research, teaching and experience about how to use the brain more effectively. It is designed to be read to a child or class, but there are many asides for adult consumption, ie:

    You might be born thinking,” replied Big Owl, “but that doesn't mean you can't do it better It's like driving a car Everyone can learn, so everyone can learn to do it even better.

    How do you know about driving a car? You're just an owl,” asked Benny, keen to catch out his dad, like the time when he claimed to have invented the Toilet Owl only to have his idea stolen by the ducks.

    These conversations are funny and thought provoking and will encourage young listeners to talk and to question.
  4. Extremely accessible to anyone's first introdution to thinking skills. Well presented in a non-threatening manner.
  5. An introduction to thinking skills through stories in which Big Owl teaches Benny the owlet about flying and leaving the nest, catching mice, being different " The stories are short and simple (and didactic) enough for quite young children but fairly demanding in terms of vocabulary and concept. Any book that introduces children to the idea that "an unexamined life is not worth living" (attributed to a wise Mediterranean owl who lived 1000s of years ago) must be a good thing. Excellent for reading aloud and discussing.
  6. Little Owl's Book of Thinking is a beautiful piece of work by the clever and ingenious pen of Ian Gilbert. The book immediately fires your brain and prepares it for the 'seven different lessons for learning and thinking for little owl', known to some of us as 'Benny'.

    The fantastic statements in each of the lessons make you pause, and you find yourself 'thinking' in ways maybe you haven't though of before! - does that mean the book is working on my brain as I am reading it? - It must be! Often I had the most wonderful experience of 'smiling' - a pleasant warm smile that made me feel 'safe', much like a father or mother telling you a story at bed time, you know the type of smile that means 'everything' a heavenly feeling.

    I have never read a book that makes you think as you are reading. When I mean 'think' I mean REALLY think, in a sort of 'working it out' mode, much like a new discovery or maybe a new feeling or experience, very clever, Ian Gilbert is a master of thinking and thought. The fact that it has been written in 'story' from appeals to me and yet there are 'REAL LESSONS' to be learnt about life and learning - clever by Jove!

    Ian Gilbert is such a clever 'thinking' person and author that he has created a book about 'Thinking' without those long complicated words you can get in some books, and boy, are there far too many characters in some books that you've lost the plot after the first page, those are failures, but this is a TOTAL WINNER!

    Everyone should read this 'Little Book' - especially children, because it makes you think in ways that you might not ever have thought of before - it should be compulsory for all children to read it as they would learn about 'HOW' to think, 'WHY' they think, and then be able to 'Think' about working Thinking out things in a better way than before, or maybe not better, but different.

    I believe that the characters are so loveable, and yet like people too, that Benny could move on to learning more lessons from his wise old dad, but, is willing to ask 'why' and 'how' more. Asking questions in learning must be the most important thing for progress.

    If I had a 'Benny' owl or a 'Wise Old Owl Dadin my bedroom instead of a Teddy Bear, I might ask them what they think if I ever got stuck with 'Thinking and Learning' in school. A visual inspiration is a good as a thought, and that's why I can now think about Benny thinking, and 'think' about how he would try and work things out.

    Ian Gilbert is a 'real clever owl' one with lost of wisdom and creativity because he has written about thinking in a way no-one else ever could.

    Thank you 'Wise Man' for showing me the way the better thinking, and telling me through your book that it's Ok to ask questions, in many different ways and wonder 'WHY' about life and learning. Now I am thinking about thinking.

  7. Little Owl's Book of Thinking is cleverly and attractively packaged in the style of a children's "Ladybird' book. The author tells us that the book was conceived on a train journey to Reading (spot the clever play on words) and that the basic idea was to present information about thinking and learning in a way that no one else has. The idea is not in fact new - The Tao of Pooh, for example, and Counselling for Toads are both based on classic children's books albeit with different subject matter. In this case Ian Gilbert appears to have been inspired by Jill Tomlinson's classic The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark - if so he has set himself quite a task in attempting to replicate the style of that wonderful little book.

    Gilbert is right about the plethora of good books on thinking and learning on the market and, as he says wryly, "some of them are so good they have been written many many times'. However it does not follow that an original idea is always a good one. Gilbert has identified seven thinking skills and devotes a short chapter to each of them. So basically, Wise Owl explains that we each have a powerful learning tool (our brain), we know what to do, we need to do things in our own way (shades of Jonathan Livingston Seagull here) we should think flexibly, know our own strengths, brainstorm ideas, and be aware that our thinking abilities are deep within us waiting to unfold.

    Although it is a reasonably enjoyable and quick read I found Gilbert's word plays to be somewhat irritating as though he was trying too hard to be witty ("Are you dead?' he asked curtly. "No I'm just sleeping,' replied Curtly.) There is nothing wrong with the basic substance of the book but I am really not sure quite who he had in mind as his audience when he was writing it. Little kids won't get it; big kids will probably just think it's silly.
  8. This book “squeezes years of research, teaching and experience into seven chapters, two owls and a whole forest of woodland creatures”. Through the seven lessons Benny the owlet receives from his wise old father, it aims to be an introduction to the concept of thinking skills and to show young children how to think, and think well. Its author has worked with thousands of young people, teachers, parents and governors in the UK and abroad.
  9. This book is the opera of the pantomime that education so often is. Like a good pantomime it appeals at many levels to all ages. Like a good opera it has guts and passion sung in wonderful harmonies.

    Buy it, read it and LEARN!
  10. An unusual and fascinating book which I found a compulsive and thought provoking read. Yet, because it is so witty and the author is so original in his style, a reader could be overly preoccupied with the humour resulting in the book being read from start to finish without there being sufficient regard for the `thinking` lessons intended.

    I will certainly recommend it to the students following the PGCE course at this college.
  11. Learning to fly:

    In Little Owl's Book of Thinking by Ian Gilbert an older bird acts as philosophical tutor to a chick that's barely out of the egg. Aspects of the world of ornithology - learning to spread your wings, catch mice, perch in trees - become analogues for the growth of human thought. Short humorous parables identify the central principles of a developed mind - the need for flexibility and strength, the recognition of different kinds of right answer, the knowledge that you do not always know. There's much here for key stage 1 children and their adult mentors.
  12. Gilbert's given us a delightful book. He tackles a complex subject with skilled simplicity, making it appeal to the mind and heart; helping us see the “trees” from the “wood”, just like a little owl!

    It's an engrossing little book.
  13. A very simple idea ” well executed!

    I thought this books would be good not just for individual reading, but to read chapter by chapter to children of all ages, teachers when doing professional development, PGCE students, NQTs etc ” so that they can think and discuss what it means to them personally and to their friends/colleagues.
  14. ... amusing, witty, thought provoking and an original way of introducing thinking skills.
  15. ... another gem from the pen of Ian Gilbert! From the opening lines the reader is taken on an exploration ” of how, what, why and where we think and learn but also an exploration of oneself, one's relationship with people, places and the mysteries of the natural and created world.
  16. This is an extraordinary book. It is the cleverest, simplest, funniest and most engaging treatise on thinking skills available.
  17. For educators who want to develop their practice and -˜break the mould' of our more traditional teaching practices this book would be a great starting point.
  18. This book is a must for every home and every classroom. Ian Gilbert brings us hope that not only educationalists but also parents will want to share and develop the way we think about thinking. It is also a delightful story in its own right with very loveable characters.
  19. Little Owl's Book of Thinking is a refreshing contribution to educational literature; one that both children and adults will benefit from and enjoy. Many recent books have begun to acknowledge the great importance of thinking skills in education, but Ian Gilbert takes this theme further by actively exploring how these thinking skills can relate to the development and potential of both the individual and society. Making this profound area accessible to young people, in particular, is no easy task, but Little Owl achieves it admirably. Whether you are a teacher, parent, pupil, or just plain curious, Little Owl's Book of Thinking will provide some invaluable food for thought, learning and life.

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