As a child, you become curious about the world around you and question why certain things happen (or don’t happen).
As you get older, though, the types of questions you ask about the world start to change. Instead of wondering why the moon chases you when you’re in the car, or questioning how valid it is for your mom to say “Because I said so,” you eventually start to ponder more difficult questions, like what you want to do with your life.
It’s times like these that make you reflect back on what you were taught as a child. Sometimes, the most impactful lessons were taught through children’s books.
Here are five children’s books that will not only help you remember what it was like to be a child, but also instill lessons that you might have forgotten about.
1. “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson
Set in a small, rural Virginia town called Lark Creek, this classic novel is about two friends who create a fantasy world to sustain their bond as friends. The touching novel allows children and adults alike to realize the importance of friendship in ways that most children’s books do not.
While the main characters are only 10 years old, Paterson tackles the difficult topic of death when one of the friends passes away near the end of the novel. The book’s ending deeply upset my fourth-grade self, but I eventually realized why Patterson wrote the novel this way.
The author reminds readers that without this tragedy, both the character and reader would not have appreciated the true meaning of friendship. “Bridge to Terabithia” proves that friendship exists forever, even after a friend has passed.
2. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle
After her father’s five-year long absence to discover a new planet as part of a secret government mission, protagonist Meg Murry and her younger brother Charles Wallace embark on a journey with their friend Calvin O’Keefe to find their father. Through the characters’ journey and determination to find Meg and Charles’ father, this book embodies the sense of adventure that is so common in children’s books.
While this novel is the first in L’Engle’s critically acclaimed “A Wrinkle in Time” series, it can be read on its own without having knowledge of what happens in the rest of the books. Meg, Charles and Calvin teach readers from all walks of life about the importance of family, both biological and chosen, and how the most difficult journeys can produce the best outcomes.
3. “Nancy Drew” by Carolyn Keene
While this recommendation is not for one specific book, picking up any of the “Nancy Drew” books as an adult will surely provide some sort of lesson. Written by various authors who used the same pseudonym, the series focuses on Nancy Drew, the titular young amateur detective whose greatest passion in life is helping others. Throughout the series, Drew continues to show how she is a strong and independent character and how she refuses to let others get in the way of her goals.
Considering the first book’s publication in the 1930s, it was somewhat revolutionary for a young female character to be depicted powerful and driven. In any “Nancy Drew” book, readers can learn the importance of maintaining the values of independence, family, education and friendship.
4. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
What would a list of children’s books be without at least one Dr. Seuss book? Known for his witty rhymes and sound advice, Dr. Seuss proves that his words apply to both children and adults.
Most of the time, when people post positive, uplifting quotes from Seuss’ books on social, these mantras come from this book in particular. Since this book is about following one’s path, it makes sense for adults to take a second glance at it through new eyes. Audiences everywhere can see how the protagonist’s journey is symbolic of their own journeys into adulthood and discovering who they want to be.
There is one quote in particular that has always resonated with me, which goes, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Whether you’re young or old, these wise words of Dr. Seuss will help you realize that you alone are responsible for choosing your path in life.
5. “The Magic Tree House” by Mary Pope Osborne
Regardless of which book you decide to pick up and read (or reread), you can learn so much from the series’ main characters, Jack and Annie, as they go on countless adventures. One of the most fascinating parts of this series is that it is separated into two sections: one where they are sent on adventures by a mythical enchantress and another where they go on various journeys in hopes of meeting Merlin the magician.
The first book in the series starts off with Jack and Annie discovering a magical tree house and being sent on various journeys after reading the books that were stored inside. Whether they’re traveling back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, or swimming with dolphins in the present, these audacious siblings always show their passion and respect for the cultures that they are momentarily a part of. Through these encounters, readers of all ages will realize that through reading, you can escape to another world, where you can learn more about various ways of life.
Feeling nostalgic yet? If you’re craving a feel-good story, pick up one of these blast-from-the-past children’s books, which can be found at your local libraries, bookstores or online.