questions bookApril 10, 2024–One of our kids’ favorite family activities was responding to The Kids’ Book of Questions, by Gregory Stock. It was a collection of 260 open-ended questions with answers you could not find in any book. Rather, they posed moral dilemmas, what-ifs, and imaginary scenarios. There were no right or wrong answers, and only the person asked could answer, no matter how long it took or how uncomfortable it seemed. No one else could comment or judge or even react.

Examples of questions:

  • When someone says you are just like your mom or dad, do you like it?
  • If you knew that by practicing hard every Saturday you would become the best in your school at it, what would you work on?
  • Would you rather be very poor and have parents who loved you, or be wealthy and have parents who ignored you?
  • If you had 5 minutes to think up a nickname for yourself and knew everyone would use it the rest of your life, what would you pick?

Not easy to answer, right? Especially when asked around the dinner table, and everyone in the family is staring at you, silently judging you for your answer.

Yet, our now grown-up kids loved doing it. This memory came back to me at Thanksgiving, when I was looking for a meaningful conversation to have around the table. We decided to let everyone say one thing they were thankful for, a fairly obvious idea. We made everyone participate, even the 4-year-old, the cynical teen, and the taciturn grandparent.

It was meaningful, fun, and revealing. Even the kids had original input. Still, it was a surprise when at Easter, our 8-year-old grand came prepared with her own list of questions. We made the rules that she could ask anyone any question. Again, only the person asked could respond. I keep bringing that up because it is fascinating to me that the person who aches to answer someone else’s question inevitably freezes when it is their turn. Ask any teacher if this is not true.

So, here are her questions, all made up by her. How would you answer?

  • What is your favorite childhood memory?
  • What did you think it would be like when you grew up?
  • When you were a kid did you think you would grow old?
  • What do you think it would be like to live in the olden days?
  • What is it like to watch your mom grow old?
  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • If you could ride with any sailor in the world, who would it be?
  • If you were a famous artist what would you paint first?
  • If you could have a machine do anything, what 5 things would it do? What would it look like?
  • What wild animal would you choose for your pet?
  • If you were stranded on a deserted island alone what would be the first thing you would do?
  • If you could take one thing out of your life what would you take out?
  • If you could invent a medicine that would cure 3 things what would they be?
  • If you discovered a fruit what would it taste like?
  • If you had a superpower what would it be? (She asked her little brother this one. His answer? “Breathing fire.”)
  • If you were a super villain what would your lab look like?

At your next family gathering, try them around your table and report back. And watch out for that kid breathing fire.