Big Questions…

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It’s a big day at Inly. Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi are speaking about their new book, Super Brain, tonight and, of course, the tickets sold out in less than an hour. Super Brain, already on the New York Times bestseller list, is about the “next evolutionary leap for the human brain,” according to the authors. “We have been given the gift of self-awareness which allows us to step back into our true selves to observe and use our brains to create the world we wish to live in,” Chopra and Tanzi said in an Amazon interview. “For us, super brain is the future and it starts now.”

I’m interested in hearing what our speakers have to say about the golden age of brain research, but tonight’s program inspired me to look at books for kids that explore big questions in accessible ways. Kids ask big questions as a matter of course. When I have lunch with kids at school, they may ask me to open their yogurt container one minute and then ask why some people are happy and others sad. I love those questions. Not the ones about the yogurt, but the other ones. That’s why I read books. I read as a way of grappling with the world and understanding why we do the things we do.

Like most of my students, when I was young, I preferred the direct approach. Ask a simple question. Get a simple answer. Now I like the “grey” area in between. Lives are messy. Good literature reflects that. But for the child with a “super brain” who wants answers now, check out: Big Questions From Little People…and Simple Answers from Great Minds, compiled by Gemma Elwin Harris.


This is a cool book. It includes questions like: “Why do monkeys like bananas?” And “Is it okay to eat a worm?”  And then it gets to the trickier ones, like: “Where does ‘good’ come from?”  And “How does my brain control me?”  One thing I love about this book is that each of the questions is answered by an expert in the field. The question about monkeys, for example, is answered by Daniel Simmonds, a primate keeper at the London Zoo.

In honor of Deepak Chopra’s visit to Inly, I’ll excerpt the answer to the brain question here, but if you want to know why monkeys like bananas, you need to get the book.

How does my brain control me?

Answer by Susan  Greenfield, a scientist who “knows all about how brains work.”

Excerpt from Big Questions From Little People:

“We humans don’t run particularly fast, we don’t see particularly well, and we’re not that strong compared to many other animals. But we can live and thrive across more of the planet than any other species, because we do something far better than any other. We learn.”


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