So Few of Me
By Peter H. Reynolds
Leo works really hard to get things done. But Leo encounters a problem: no matter how hard he works to get things done, he always finds more things to do! He decides it might be easier to enlist the help of more Leos to help him get everything done. The work keeps growing and two Leos quickly progress to ten Leos, with a never-ending amount of work. He finally decides to take a nap and has a dream. The other Leos catch him and get upset with him for doing something that was not on the list. Leo finally decides that he is content with just one of him so he can have time to dream.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
By Kate Doyle
So Few of Me fosters philosophical questions in the areas of social philosophy and metaphysics.
Children today have an expectation from their parents and teachers that they need to participate in several extracurricular activities in order to become more well-rounded individuals and to build their resumes for future college applications. As a result, they are often busier than adults, with fully booked up schedules- carted to sports practices and music lessons, and little or no free time. Asking questions about why we have to do certain things, and what those “things” should be, explores concepts of social philosophy in a timely context.
“So few of me” provides an opportunity to ask the children about why we feel pressured to do multiple activities and who does the pressuring. Some children might feel that they want to participate in activities because of enjoyment. Others might feel like their parents or teachers make them do activities they don’t like. Connecting these scenarios to the book by asking the children whether they think adding more tasks would be better or worse to their ability to complete them will cause the children to think about their agency in their own life and who is controlling it.
Social philosophy explores concepts of work and leisure and how they compare in society. Socialist Karl Marx felt that it was important to minimize work in order to have more free time for leisure and creative activity. Other philosophers have criticized Marx for having a romantic and unrealistic view. They believe that work is more important for individual and societal purpose. The use of Leo’s dreaming as an example - and how it is affected by too many tasks - is a great way to ask the children their thoughts about work and leisure and the inevitable tradeoff between the two. Questioning whether dreaming is more or less important than accomplishing tasks will promote thoughts and discussion about leisure. Forcing the children to think about why we are sometimes told to stop dreaming and do “more important” things gets at the root of social philosophy and the importance of examining why society is structured the way it is, and how it might be improved.
Metaphysics deals with personal identity and what properties make a person. Leo wished for more Leos to help with all the tasks. When there are ten Leos, it’s hard to differentiate the original Leo from the others. This will foster debate over whether the other Leos were identical to Leo or distinct creatures from the original Leo. Asking questions about who Leo is will force the children to think about who they are. Do they feel there is a voice inside their head telling them they should be doing something? If so, who is that voice? The questions in this section attempt to facilitate thoughts on what makes a person a person.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
Leo felt pressure to get things done, but the tasks never ended.
Leo wanted less time to do tasks and more time to dream. He decided just doing his best was enough.
Leo wanted the ten other Leos to disappear. He wanted more time to dream and decided doing his best was enough.