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Life lessons about solitude, from a frog and a toad

Gabriel Spitzer
Kids can learn a lot from Arnold Lobel's amphibians.


This story originally aired on March 2, 2019. 

Frog had left a note. It was for Toad, and it said he just wanted to be alone today.

So begins the story by Arnold Lobel in the collection, "Days with Frog and Toad." And like many of Lobel’s stories, the deceptively simple narrative hides important lessons about childhood and friendship. In this case, Jana Mohr Lone says, the story teaches us lessons about solitude.

“The children always want to talk about, what does it mean to be alone with someone else?” says Mohr Lone, director of the University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children.


“Often children will say, I think I’m often a lot lonelier when I’m with other people than when I’m by myself.”

She uses this story to jumpstart conversations in the elementary school classrooms she visits. She says kids are interested in the differences between being alone and being lonely, and how sometimes aloneness can be good.

“There are ways in which we often don't take children seriously, that we don’t really think that children need time to sit and think and deliberate about whatever’s going on with them. We think we need to fill their time with productive activities, or whatever.”


Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.