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The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children

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Pixie is an elementary school student perplexed and delighted by many aspects of her experience. This novel emphasizes relationships (logical, social, familial, aesthetic, causal, part-whole, mathematical, etc.) as well as competence in dealing with such relationships. Ethical concepts include sibling-rivalry, personhood, respect for others, friendship, secrets, promise-keeping, parent-child relationships, obedience, teasing, and autonomy. Readers will find the pages of Pixie strewn with philosophical ideas and puzzles that lead to lively classroom deliberation. The text includes some blank pages for young readers to try their hand at book illustration.


Excerpt from Pixie, Chapter 7, episode 1, pp. 49-50

On Saturday afternoon, my father and mother had to go visit my father's boss,

who was in the hospital. They said they didn't want to take Miranda and me with them, and we said, "Fine, we'll stay home! We didn't want to go anyhow!"

As they were leaving, my mother said, "Remember, now, you'll be here alone, and I don't want you to let anyone in. That's a rule you mustn't break!"

They said they would be back in two or three hours. Daddy patted me on the head, and they were gone.

I did a little dance around the kitchen table, and Miranda said, "What's with you?"

"We're free!" I yelled. "The house belongs to us!"

"You're crazy," said Miranda. "Nothing's changed. You know perfectly well that there are family rules, and they stay the same whether Mom and Dad are here or not."

"Free, free, free," I sang. "Free, free, free! Everything's possible!"

Miranda wrinkled up her nose, like she always does, and said, "You're disgusting!"

I said, "I'm going right to Momma's closet and put on her good dress that comes down to the floor."

It'll swallow you," said Miranda. "But maybe that's good!"

Just then there was a knock at the door. I didn't take off the chain; I just called out, "Who's there?" and I heard Isabel say, "It's Isabel - and Connie."

Miranda said, "Pixie, you heard what Momma said. We're not supposed to let anyone in. Rules are rules!"

"But Momma didn't mean we should keep out people we know!" I insisted.

Miranda said, "There are lots of kooks we know that Momma wouldn't want us to let in."

Just then Isabel called from the other side of the door, "Pixie, don't worry about us. We just stopped by to say hello. See you tomorrow!"

I didn't want a big argument with Miranda. So I went up in Momma's closet, and sat down on the floor, among the shoes, and thought about my mystery creature and my mystery story. I grumbled to myself, "Can you imagine, this is the only place I can be free to be me!"


Pixie, by Matthew Lipman; published 1981 in Montclair, New Jersey by The Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children



Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

Academic Research on the Pixie Curriculum

Archival Materials Related to the Pixie Curriculum

  • “Spine” of philosophical issues and skills

  • Lipman, Matthew (1996) Sources and References for Pixie. In Ann Margaret Sharp and Ronald F. Reed (Eds.) Studies in Philosophy for Children: Pixie, 316-404. Madrid, ES: Ediciones de La Torre.


Target Grades: 3-4

Pixie (novel) by Matthew Lipman