Books for children often send an important message to young readers, so why wouldn’t they be fitting for adults as well? Many classic children’s books not only teach lessons on how to become a well-behaved, life-loving, productive member of society, but they can also serve as a reminder to adults. Books aimed at young readers are straightforward, and send unpretentious messages on the fundamentals of human behavior: from sharing your things to remaining optimistic even when life appears bleak. The books on this list range in the age they are targeted towards, but all can serve as lessons for adults, too!
1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
We have all felt like Alexander, usually more than once a week. All in one day, everything can feel like its going wrong and getting out of bed seems like the worst idea. Grumpy Alexander is emblematic of most adults, but comes to the astonishingly optimistic realization that things can and will change. There’s no need to mope, at least not for too long.
2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
While each Roald Dahl book could easily be on the list, The BFG (short for Big Friendly Giant) is especially heart-warming. The story features the lonely-orphan Sophie, who becomes an international heroine, and the BFG as her misunderstood, but incredibly giving (he literally gives children good dreams), friend. The BFG is different than his giant relatives, because he’s not a cannibal, and humans fear him. But Sophie and the BFG find an unlikely friendship, teaching the reader not to judge someone until you get to know them. While we are all told not to judge, it’s an easily forsaken concept.
3. Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann
Ruby is new at school and is captivated by the most popular girl in her class—so much so that she copies everything the popular girl wears and does. This is a classic tale about the struggle to be comfortable with yourself, which is sometimes difficult to conquer—even as an adult. Ruby learns that her true self is her happiest self and no ridicule from others could really change who she is. Adults, be your true wacky selves!
4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth is filled with messages for children, the main one being that education is invaluable. But the fantastical tale of the epically bored boy, Milo, and his new friend Tock, the watchdog, is filled with adult-appropriate puns, and lessons on how to find fun in the world. Milo learns to use common sense in a completely nonsensical world, and while The Phantom Tollbooth is set in a fantasy land, the real world is often illogical. Juster’s book is a reminder to enjoy life and use your brain.
5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
As a kid, Snicket’s thirteen books about the Baudelaire children were frightening and absurd. The grimness of the story is incredibly entertaining, although the children seem doomed to a life of sadness. Through their adventures, the siblings stick close together and teach children and adults alike the importance of family ties. Adults can especially learn from Count Olaf’s emotionally detached demeanour towards his own young relatives. While the crazy, terrible events may be a fictitious exaggeration, readers can relate to the hardships of life, and adults will be reminded to communicate and sympathize with children, rather than patronizing them.
6. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr.Seuss
While this book is especially great for graduating pre-schoolers, high schoolers, and college kids because of its optimistic message that with all your obtained knowledge, your options are limitless, it is also a memo to adults. No matter where you are in life, the world still has a lot to offer. Maybe not in the same way as when you were a kid, but remember the young excitement of the unknown can awaken us to the possibilities that still exist. Dr. Seuss’s timeless message is that despite the trouble life throws your way, great things can and will happen.
7. Frindle by Andrew Clements
Nick Allen decides to create a new word. He does this without thinking about consequence or the meaning and history behind long established words. The word, frindle, a new word for pen, becomes immensely popular and he ends up making a fortune off of it. The story encourages readers to be clever and to question establishment- something we are often taught not to do. Clements displays the importance of language and the powerful bond that can form between students and teachers.
Featured Image Via Amazon