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Every child is a philosopher!

In today’s world, increased polarization has made it difficult for citizens to reason together across differences. The Babayan Project: Storytelling and Civic Education for Children, led by Harvard Professors Kiku Adatto and Michael Sandel, addresses this problem by offering young students practice in ethical reasoning and civic dialogue.​

Ignite children’s moral ​
and artistic imaginations

Storytelling invites children to discuss characters and situations in a make-believe world. Once their imaginations are awakened, children can "journey back" to the real world and discuss the ethical dilemmas they face in their everyday lives.​

Our Mission

The project provides resources for students five to nine years old: a children's book focused on the themes of transformation, self-knowledge, and the power of friendship, Babayan and the Magic Star, and an accompanying Guide for Teachers and Families with questions and exercises designed to encourage critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and civic dialogue. Our project is guided by five goals:

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Engage children in ethical reasoning and civic discourse​

Adapting the Socratic model of Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel's course "Justice," the project pioneers ways to use storytelling to discuss the big questions children face as emerging citizens and participants in public life.​

Connect oral storytelling, reading, and writing​

We revive the oral storytelling tradition by encouraging children to retell, interpret, and continue the story of Babayan in their own voices, adapt it to their local cultures and traditions, "publish" their own illustrated books, and create individual and collective art projects.​

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Strengthen the Bonds Between Home and School​

We can widen the community of storytellers by encouraging families to read Babayan together and share their thoughts and reflections. ​As readers and story seekers, children build bridges between home and school.

Babayan on NPR

Listen here as world-celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma, joined by a gifted group of actors, narrates the story of Babayan’s journey.

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