← Return to search results

Sam Tells Stories

by Thierry Robberecht


Sam Tells Stories is a story about a little wolf who is very eager to make friends, even if it means he has to lie.

Sam tells his friends that his dad is an astronaut who travels the galaxy and invites aliens over for dinner. He doesn’t think this is much different from the bedtime stories he makes up to tell his little brother each night, so he goes even further. He lies to his mom in order to avoid getting in trouble over dirty clothes, but eventually all of his lies catch up with him.

Read aloud video by Megan Nyberg

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion


The stories we tell one another are essential for all sorts of things, whether it’s to recount an event that happened to us, teach us an important lesson, or help us fall asleep at night before bedtime. However, there is an important distinction we all must make between stories that can determine our feelings toward it: whether it’s true or fictional. Sam, a young wolf, learns this lesson in the book, Sam Tells Stories, after he spins fantastical tales to his friends and family for different reasons.

What’s in a Story?

The issue of parsing out truth from lies in a story can be as serious as determining the verdict in a murder trial or as trivial as describing what happened to you on your way to work. Stories have a lot of influence over how we view a particular issue, such as the stories we hear from the news about crime in our cities or from hospitals overwhelmed by the pandemic. In a world with easily accessible stories of all kinds found in digital media, discerning the truth in stories has become more important than ever before.

Sam’s relatable story invites the reader to think about the trust we put in others when we listen to a story and how much control we give to someone if we choose to believe whether the story is true. There are many different parts to a story, like the storyteller’s motive behind the story, whose perspective it’s being told from, who is impacted, and whether we should expect it to be true or not. Since stories are so pivotal to learning about the world and others, Sam Tells Stories reminds us that it’s important to be honest and be ourselves in certain situations, and that it’s okay to tell tales in others.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

The Significance of Honesty

What makes telling the truth so important, when should we be honest, and why?

  1. What story does Sam tell his friends about his dad?
  2. Do you think Sam should have been honest to his new friends?
  3. Have you ever made up a story to be accepted or liked by someone?
  4. What does Sam tell his mom when she gets upset about his dirty clothes? What does she decide to do in response?
  5. Is it ever harmful to tell stories that aren’t true to people? Why or why not?
  6. Is there a difference between Sam lying to his friends versus lying to his mom?
  7. When you hear stories from your friends, do you want them to be honest?
  8. When you hear stories from your parents, guardians or teachers, do you want them to be honest?
  9. Why do you think people lie?
  10. Can you think of a time when it was hard for you to tell the truth?

Truth vs. Lies

We all tell stories to one another, but what makes a story true or a lie?

  1. What story does Sam tell his brother at bedtime?
  2. How is this different from the story he told his friends at the playground?
  3. When we hear a story from someone else, how can we tell whether it’s true or not?
  4. Is it always possible to tell whether a story is true or not?
  5. Is it ever okay to make up stories?
  6. What happens when we choose to believe stories people make up? Can you think of an example of a time someone believed in a fake story?
  7. When it comes to learning the truth, does it matter who tells the story?

What’s the Impact of a Story?

Sam and the people who listen to his stories are all affected by his story in different ways.

  1. Do you think that Sam’s story won him friends? Would he have friends if he hadn’t lied?
  2. How would you feel if you were Sam’s friend and you found out his story wasn’t true?
  3. If you were Sam’s brother and you found out the story he told you wasn’t true, how would you feel?
  4. If you were Sam’s parent and you found out his story he told you wasn’t true, how would you feel?
  5. What did Sam’s friends do at the end of the story when Sam told the truth? Do you think they made the right choice?
  6. Have you ever been caught lying? How did it make you feel?
  7. Should we tell a lie, even if we think it doesn’t harm anyone? Why or why not?
Download & Print Email Book Module Back to All Books
Back to All Books Cover illustration for Thierry Robberecht's book Sam Tells Stories featuring a watercolor illustration of a small wolf wearing a striped shirt and green shorts. Behind the wolf, a group of small animals in children's clothes are talking in a group. 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.

Visit Us.


2961 W County Road 225 S
Greencastle, IN 46135
P: (765) 658-4075



Monday - Friday: 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Saturday-Sunday: closed