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“Alone” from Days with Frog and T..

by Arnold Lobel


“Alone” explores the difference between being alone and loneliness and shows how it’s okay to want to be alone.

Good friends like Frog and Toad enjoy spending their days together. They fly kites, celebrate Toad’s birthday, and share the shivers when one of them tells a scary story. But they come to discover that it is also important to sometimes be alone.

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Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

Have you ever heard anyone say that they are afraid to be alone? Have you felt that way yourself? But is being alone itself a scary or bad thing? Too often, it seems that many of us suppose it is. But “Alone” from Days With Frog and Toad offers an important reminder. Being alone is not always a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite good sometimes.

Philosophically, a the story offers us a distinction. Perhaps when people think that being alone is scary or bad, they are imagining being lonely. Being lonely is quite bad, but does one really need to be physically alone to experience the pain of loneliness? It seems not: sometimes, we feel lonely even with others around. We can never feel alone with others around us, however. So one discussion that can be had is on this idea that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone.

Now that these have been distinguished, and it has been determined that the idea that being alone is scary is just the result of confusing being alone with loneliness, the door is open to ask the question of how being alone can be a good thing. Toad doesn’t understand himself at first, as he worriedly searches about for his friend, worried about how afraid he must be to be all alone. But Frog is not terrified, or even upset, about anything. That is not why he wants to be alone. Sometimes one wants to be alone, Frog argues, just to appreciate how wonderful life is. But we might ask, why does Frog want to be alone to do this? What is it about being alone that makes Frog be able to reflect upon his happy life in a way that he could not if he were with others? Reflecting on questions like these and the one’s down below can foster reflection on why being alone can actually be a good, healthy, positive experience.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

Toad asks, “Why does Frog want to be alone?”

  1. Do you ever want to be alone?
  2. When you are alone, how do you feel?
  3. If your best friend told you he or she wanted to be alone, how would it make you feel?

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone.

  1. Does being alone makes you lonely?
  2. What makes you feel lonely?
  3. What helps you not feel lonely?

Frog says, “I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think how everything is so fine.”

  1. Do you ever want to be alone just to think about how fine everything is?
  2. What do you think about when you are alone?
  3. What do you like to do when you are alone?

Frog feels good because the sun is shining, because he is a frog, and because Toad is his friend.

  1. What makes you feel good about your life?
  2. Would you like to spend some time thinking about things that are good?
  3. Why isn’t Frog lonely when he is alone?

At the end of the story, Frog and Toad enjoy being alone together.

  1. How can two people be alone together?
  2. Have you ever been alone together? With whom? What was it like?

Original questions by Mary Cowhey and Tom Wartenberg. Guidelines for philosophical discussion by Jayme Johnson. Edited June 2020 by The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics.

Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our Resources page.

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Back to All Books Illustrated book cover for Days with Frog and Toad of a brown toad in pants and a jacket walking next to a green frog wearing a brown suit and carrying a paper kite. The two are walking together and gazing at each other with affection Download & Print Email Book Module

About the Prindle Institute

As one of the largest collegiate ethics institutes in the country, the Prindle Institute for Ethics’ uniquely robust national outreach mission serves DePauw students, faculty and staff; academics and scholars throughout the United States and in the international community; life-long learners; and the Greencastle community in a variety of ways. In 2019, the Prindle Institute partrnered with Thomas Wartenberg and became the digital home of his Teaching Children Philosophy discussion guides.

Further Resources

Some of the books on this site may contain characterizations or illustrations that are culturally insensitive or inaccurate. We encourage educators to visit the Association for Library Service to Children’s resource guide for talking to children about issues of race and culture in literature. They also have a guide for navigating tough conversations.  PBS Kids’ set of resources for talking to young children about race and racism might also be useful for educators.

Philosophy often deals with big questions like the existence of a higher power or death. Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our resources page.

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