Core Competencies

Critical and Reflective Thinking

Critical and Reflective Thinking by Education Librarian

Thinking is one of the three Core Competencies in the BC curriculum. Critical and Reflective Thinking is one of two sub-competencies in this area.Listed below are selected resources for teachers, picture books, fiction, and non-fiction related to critical and reflective thinking.

Teacher Resources

Critical thinking now: Practical teaching methods for classrooms around the world, by Nancy Burkhalter

Grades: 10-12. This book outlines the necessary components of a critical thinking classroom and provides assessment techniques and ample exercises adaptable to any student’s field, age, linguistic background, or level of education.

Fact vs. fiction: teaching critical thinking skills in the age of fake news, by Jennifer LaGarde and Darren Hudgins

Grades: K-12. This book provides educators with tools and resources to help students discern fact from fiction in the information they access not only at school, but on the devices they carry in their pockets and backpacks.

It’s critical! Classroom strategies for promoting critical and creative comprehension, by David Booth

Grades: K-12. The author explores the power of language and persuasion to help students critically examine and interpret the underlying meanings of what they read and see.

Creating thinking classrooms: Leading educational change for this century, by Garfield Gini-Newman and Roland Case

Grades: K-12. This book suggests that aligning teaching with five key principles – engaging students, sustaining inquiry, nurturing self-regulated learners, creating assessment-rich learning, and enhancing learning through technology – can put creative, critical, and collaborative thinking at the core of 21st century schools.

The critical advantage: Developing critical thinking skills in school, by William T. Gormley Jr.

Grades: K-12. The author offers a contemporary definition of critical thinking, including its relationship to creative thinking and problem solving, and looks at the important role it plays in preparing students for post-secondary education, careers, and civic life.

Creating cultures of thinking: The 8 forces we must master to truly transform our schools, by Ron Ritchhart

Grades: K-12. This book outlines eight forces which are needed to create a culture of thinking in the classroom: expectations, language, time, modeling, opportunities, routines, interactions, and environment.

Critical thinking and formative assessments: Increasing the rigor in your classroom, by Betsy Moore and Todd Stanley

Grades: K-12. The authors suggest that critical thinking is a key tool in creating more rigor in the classroom. They demonstrate the difference between higher- and lower-level thinking, how to write higher-level thinking questions, and how to assess critical thinking strategies.

50 strategies to boost cognitive engagement: Creating a thinking culture in the classroom, by Rebecca Stobaugh

The author shares how to build a culture of thinking that emphasizes essential 21st century skills, from critical thinking and problem-solving to teamwork and creativity. She presents 50 teacher-tested instructional strategies for nurturing students’ cognitive abilities, as well as Take Action activities for student engagement in the classroom.

Teaching creative and critical thinking in schools, by Russell Grigg and Helen Lewis

Grades: K-12. This book provides guidance on how to develop creative and critical thinking through your classroom teaching. Key coverage includes classroom-ready ideas to stimulate higher-order thinking, how to think critically and creatively across all areas of the curriculum, and philosophical approaches that give students the space to think and inquire. Case studies from primary, secondary and special schools are included.

Picture Books

Ada Twist, Scientist, written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Ada is curious; she spends almost all her time asking questions about why things are they way they are. Her family supports her – at least, until the day she looks for the source of a horrible smell.

On a beam of light: A story of Albert Einstein, written by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road, imagining that he’s actually traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. Eventually, that boy’s curiosity and imagination make him into one of the world’s greatest scientists.

The most magnificent thing, by Ashley Spires

A little girl and her dog set out to make the most magnificent thing. When it doesn’t turn out the way they expect, they step back and think about what they need to do next.

What do you do with an idea?, written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom

A boy has an idea which makes him uncomfortable at first, but he discovers it is magical and that, no matter what other people say, he should give it his attention.

The thingamabob, by Il Sung Na

A curious elephant discovers a mysterious red object. He finds out what it is the best way he knows how: by experimenting with it.

Shh! We have a plan, by Chris Haughton

Four friends try one plan after another to catch a beautiful bird. In the end, the simplest approach is the best one.

The girl who never made mistakes, written by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, illustrated by Mark Pett

Beatrice has never made a mistake. She never forgets her math homework, she never wears mismatched socks, and she always wins the yearly talent show at school. One day, the inevitable happens: Beatrice makes a huge mistake in front of everyone. But in the end, she realizes that life is more fun when you enjoy everything–even the mistakes.

The busy beaver, written by Nicholas Oldland

The busy but careless beaver spends his days following random impulses, rarely thinking things through and leaving in his wake a devastated forest filled with stumps, half-nibbled trees and injured, homeless animals. But then one day the beaver finds himself on the wrong side of a falling tree, which as it turns out, is just the thing to knock some sense into him. After reflecting on his behavior, he decides to make some changes.


  Critical thinking, by Liz Brown

Grades: 4-7. This book explores questions like “What is important information?” and “How can I improve the way I think about subjects?”, and demonstrates how students can learn to think more critically about the information they encounter. For more books in the Social Studies Essential Skills series, click here.

Two truths and a lie: Histories and mysteries, by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Anne Thompson

Crazy-but-true stories about history, geography, and human achievement make this nonfiction series ideal for fans of curiosities and wonders. A fun way for middle graders to explore ways to separate fact from fiction.

Two truths and a lie: It’s alive!, by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Anne Thompson

Presents some crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true—and asks readers to separate facts from fakes.

Finding More Resources

To find more resources in this area, try the following:

  • Search using the General tab on the UBC Library website to look for material in all UBC Library branches.
  • Search using “Search Education Resources” box in the left hand bar on the Education Library website to limit your results to physical materials in the Education Library.
  • Use specific search terms to narrow your results, such as “critical thinking”, “critical thinking – study and teaching”, “information literacy”, “thought and thinking”, “thought and thinking – study and teaching”, or “reflective thinking”.
  • To find lesson plans, include “lesson plans”, “lesson planning”, or “activity programs” in your search terms.

PDF Booklist

For more help with searching, please visit the Library Service Desk or e-mail

Story written by Education Librarian


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