Top 5 Children’s Books to Re-Read as an Adult
Classic children’s books are often called “classic” for a reason: they have something to offer people of all ages and carry important truths that are universal. If you’re an adult lover of books, you most likely started your love affair as a child, but when was the last time you re-visited your childhood favorites? Our top 5 children’s books for adults are perennial bestsellers with kids, but they work on many levels: kids love the stories but adults see deeper meaning and lessons that resonate with readers of any age.
5. Eloise by Kay Thompson
Eloise is the gutsy little girl who lives in a fancy hotel with her parents and her pet pug dog. Though only about 8 years old, Eloise is already a discerning judge of character and is”interested in people when they are not boring.” When you read this book from 1955 again, it’s hard not to be struck by Eloise’s feistiness, and by what a glamorous life she leads. The writer, Kay Thompson, based much of the story on her own life and many of the characters on the real people she met while working as an actress and lounge singer around New York City. Eloise voices many of the life lessons that the author learned in New York’s demi-monde and after you’ve finished reading this book you may find yourself thinking of Eloise as a wise older aunt, rather than a fictional little girl.
4. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf,
Originally written in 1936, Ferdinand has since been almost forgotten. The story of a bull who refuses to fight was banned in the home of bullfighting, Spain, and both burned and banned in Nazi Germany for promoting pacifism. Ferdinand would be an interesting read for those reasons alone. But Ferdinand’s message is what makes this a children’s book for adults: it promotes sticking to what you know is right, no matter how unpopular your beliefs may be with others. In this case, Ferdinand suffers the consequences of refusing to do what he was bred for, but maybe a bull’s pacifism can help those of us facing difficult choices stick with our principles.
3. Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy, as you may remember, is a teddy bear sitting on a shelf in a department store, waiting for a child to come along and take him home. One little girl falls in love with Corduroy, but then her mother notices that the bear is missing a button from his overalls and refuses to spend money on a damaged item. Crestfallen, Corduroy spends the night looking for the missing button in the now-empty department store. The book is a charming look at how toys interact when humans can’t see them but it is also a story about finding the value in things that aren’t necessarily “perfect” and it provides subtle comment on valuing consumption over connection.
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This worldwide bestseller has been beloved since it was first published in 1943. If you read it when you were a child, you may have loved the illustrations and the fantasy of it, but as an adult you will notice all of the lessons it can teach us even as we get older: about looking beyond the surface, about expressing our feelings, about allowing ourselves the freedom to explore and about prioritizing what is really important in life. As the little prince himself says, “Do what makes you happy because your heart knows best.”
1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
When you first read Charlotte’s Web, you may have missed the beauty of E.B. White’s spare prose and the masterful way he creates a connection between the reader and Wilbur, the doomed pig. But chances are, you remember how this one ends, and you may tear up just thinking about it. Charlotte’s Web is, without question, a tear-jerker of a tale of the friendship that develops between a pig and the spider who saves his life, only to die herself. But if you read this classic again, you will be reminded of its ability to touch on basic truths about the natural cycle of life, about holding on to hope in the midst of despair, about the importance of leaving a legacy of kindness and about the gift we get when we help others.