How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills Through Children's Literature

Critical thinking is essential for success in today's world, but it's a skill that many children struggle to develop. 

Fortunately, there's a simple yet effective way to nurture this ability –– through children's literature. By incorporating thought-provoking stories into a child's reading routine, parents and educators can help cultivate analytical and reasoning skills. 

In this article, we'll explore the connection between children's literature and critical thinking, providing practical tips for leveraging the power of storytelling to help children become smarter.

How Children's Literature Supports Critical Thinking

Children's literature is not just about fun stories – it is a powerful tool for nurturing critical thinking skills in young minds. The captivating stories and diverse characters in books encourage kids to think deeply and critically about the world around them. 

Let’s look at five key ways children’s literature supports critical thinking.

  • Encourages questioning 

Critical thinking starts with asking questions. When children ask questions about the stories they read, they're exercising their brains. 

Children's literature sets the stage for this by presenting characters and situations that provoke curiosity. Whether it's wondering why a character made a certain choice or what might happen next in the plot, these questions contribute to critical thinking. 

By engaging with stories, children learn to question, analyse, and explore ideas, laying the foundation for lifelong learning and intellectual growth.

  • Sparks creativity

Children's literature presents imaginative scenarios and characters that inspire young minds to think creatively. As children immerse themselves in stories, they encounter new ideas, settings, and challenges that stimulate their imagination.

This process of imaginative engagement fosters creative thinking as children are prompted to visualise and invent alternative outcomes, solutions, and perspectives within the story. 

When they are encouraged to visualise and invent within the context of a story, they are essentially practising these critical thinking skills in a creative setting. They learn to consider multiple perspectives, anticipate consequences, and think critically about the decisions made by characters.

[Article] How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills through Childrens Literature 2

  • Develops problem-solving skills

When children read stories, they join characters on their journeys to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. 

Through their engagement with these narrative challenges, children are prompted to exercise their problem-solving skills. They must analyse the situation, consider various options, and anticipate potential consequences before arriving at a solution. 

This process of problem-solving fosters a growth mindset and empowers children to approach obstacles with curiosity, resourcefulness, and a willingness to learn — a cornerstone of effective critical thinking.

  • Exposure to diverse perspectives

Literature introduces kids to different kinds of people and settings, showing them that the world is diverse. When children read about characters from different backgrounds and cultures, it helps them understand that everyone sees things differently and develops various competencies, including those prioritised by the Ministry of Education as 21st Century Competencies

This exposure to diverse perspectives encourages children to think about things from other people's points of view, which is an important part of critical thinking. 

Four Activities to Develop Critical Thinking through Children’s Literature

Here’s how to make reading enjoyable and intellectually enriching for children.

  • Talk about the story

Encouraging discussion about the story is a simple yet effective way to promote critical thinking in children. 

When we ask questions like "What did you think about that?" or "Why do you think the character did that?" it gets kids thinking beyond the surface of the story. 

By discussing their thoughts and opinions, children learn to analyse the plot, characters, and themes more deeply. They start to consider different perspectives and weigh evidence from the text to support their interpretations. 


This process helps them develop essential critical thinking skills such as reasoning, analysis, and evaluation. Moreover, engaging in discussions improves communication skills as children learn to articulate their ideas, enhance vocabulary and listen to others' viewpoints respectfully. 

  • Creative retelling

When kids retell a story in their own words or come up with alternative endings, they are actively engaging with the text in a way that goes beyond simple comprehension.

This activity requires children to think critically about the plot, characters, and themes of the story. They must analyse the events that occurred, the motivations of the characters, and the underlying messages conveyed by the narrative. By reimagining the story from their perspective, children develop a deeper understanding of its complexities and nuances.

  • Compare and contrast

Encourage children to compare and contrast different situations or characters within the same story. This challenges them to analyse similarities and differences, identify patterns, and draw connections between various elements of the text.

It prompts children to think critically about the choices made by authors and the impact of these choices on the storytelling process. They must consider how different authors approach similar themes or topics and evaluate the effectiveness of their narrative techniques.

  • Connect to real life

By making real-life connections, children can relate the themes, characters, and events of the story to their own lives, fostering deeper understanding and engagement with the text.

When children are prompted to make connections between the story and their own experiences, they are encouraged to think critically about how the themes and messages of the story resonate with their own lives. 

They may consider how they would react in similar situations, reflect on their values and beliefs, or draw parallels between the characters' experiences and their own.


As children learn to read critically, they become better equipped to navigate the complexities of the world around them, evaluate information, and make informed decisions. 

By integrating critical thinking practices into reading activities, we can empower children to become active readers who approach literature—and life—with curiosity, creativity, and a thoughtful mindset. 

At I Can Read, we understand the importance of fostering critical thinking skills in young learners. That's why our pre-reading and reading programmes are designed to not only enhance literacy but also promote critical thinking and intellectual growth. 

Our student-centred curriculum focuses on making learning enjoyable and meaningful. With structured programmes tailored to children from 2.5 to 8 years old, we aim to instil a love for reading, nurture curiosity, build confidence, and promote understanding in every child.

To know more, book a free assessment session today.