As an adult, we often feel the desire to reminisce on our youth. Whether that’s through watching old cartoons, listening to the first albums we purchased or reading through our old journals, taking these trips down memory lane are a helpful reminder of how we were shaped into the people we are today.

One fun way to look back on our adolescent lives (especially if you have children of your own) is to read the picture books and short stories that we grew up on. Even though they are small, simple words, children’s books often hold a friendly reminder their messages still hold true for grown-ups. Furthermore, what we might have missed in our favorite book as kids, we realize now are the stories and pictures that inspired us to once dream big.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, then here are five children’s books that we, as adults, can learn from:

1. “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson

The story of Harold and his purple crayon continues to resonate with young adults. In the book, Harold is a four-year-old boy filled with curiosity about the world so much so that he creates his own by walking out into the darkness and drawing his own purple-colored world. The book says a lot about how we use our imagination and, as adults, we probably don’t imagine as wildly as we did as kids. Moreover, we can also learn from Harold that we, too, must be courageous to go out into the world and create what we want if we cannot find it.


2. “Corduroy” by Don Freeman

This children’s book from the ’60s tells the story of a toy bear named Corduroy in a department store. A little girl named Lisa wants to buy Corduroy, but her mother doesn’t want to spend the money, nor spend it on a bear that is missing one of its buttons. When the store closes, Corduroy stays up all night walking around the store looking for his missing button to no avail. The next day, Lisa comes back with the money she had saved in her piggy bank and buys Corduroy. At home, Lisa sews a new button onto his overalls.

As grown-ups, we can look back on this memorable book and learn a lot about how we make friends and view people or things that are broken. Lisa wants to be friends with Corduroy, despite his ragged appearance. Instead of ignoring the bear or picking a different one, Lisa uses her own money to buy him and fix him and ends up with an everlasting friendship. Rather than ignoring the people we see in need, or figure that someone else will help them, we can learn a lot about Lisa’s actions in this book to help us build new friendships in unexpected places.

3. “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes

Lilly looks up to her schoolteacher, Mr. Slinger, until she gets in trouble for disrupting the class by showing off her new, musical, purple plastic purse. When Mr. Slinger confiscates her purse, Lilly becomes angry and draws a mean picture of her teacher. On her way home, Lilly finds a note and snacks in the purse from Mr. Slinger and begins to feel bad about the drawing and mean things she said to him. In the end, she takes responsibility for her actions and Mr. Slinger accepts her apology and lets her show her purse to the class.

As adults, we’re more impatient than we were as kids, and we tend to get frustrated easily, especially when things do not go our way. The story of Lilly and her purple plastic purse reminds us how to mend things with someone we may have judged too soon, as well as that we must be more humble when showing off our own things to others.



4. “Peter Pan” by J.M Barrie

Though we all probably know the story of Peter Pan and its lovable characters by heart, if you’re looking for an easy book to read that will give you all those youthful feelings again – then this is the best book for exactly that. When reading this book, you can either focus on the story of Peter, the boy who lives in Neverland and refuses to grow up, or Wendy, the girl afraid of growing up, though she ultimately decides she has to and wants to. It’s a charming book about utilizing your imagination, childhood adolescents and growing up. So, needless to say, it’s a great book to read both as a kid, and as an adult.

5. “The Day The Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt

When Duncan goes to school with his box of crayons, he finds a bunch of letters, one from each crayon, detailing why they are quitting. The Blue and Red crayons feel overworked, whereas the Pink crayon is upset that Duncan never uses it. The letters of complaint from each crayon vary, but there’s at least one crayon you’ll be able to find yourself relating to because their feelings depict a lot about how we might feel toward our own boss. The book can also help us learn how to approach those who are tiring us, overworking us, or bringing us down; but it also says a lot about how we may not notice how we are doing that to others, too!

What children’s books could you read again and again?

Images by All That Is She


  1. I so enjoyed your article Isabel! It really made me think about how I would go down in my basement and look at my books I had as a child! I especially loved Goodnight Moon! How inspiring these books you read as a child, became an inspiration for you as an adult! You really made me think about some of my favorites with your beautiful words! I’m going to the basement and retrieve my books and bring them upstairs and put them in my bookcase! Thank you so much! What a smart young lady you are!

  2. I enjoyed the article. I have fond memories of reading some of these stories to my children when they were growing up.

  3. What a fabulous article. Thank you so much for reminding me of Corduroy! My husband and I both enjoyed reminiscing about that book. One of my childhood favorites was ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. I am inspired now to go back and remember more of my favorites!

  4. My favorite these days has been “Fox” by Margaret Wild. It’s an amazing book that went through a really arduous creation process for both the writer, and even more so the illustrator. It is a true work of art!

    Thanks for these suggestions Isabelle!

  5. A book I discovered when my own children were little “The Wolf’s Chicken Stew” by Keiko Kasza consoled me and warm my heart since now I’m a empty nester. The wolf starts out scheming and sly but is really shy and lovable. I even made up my own stew recipe , for my children.Enchanting days…

  6. The Velveteen Rabbit is a dear favorite of mine even now into my twenties. A great reminder of the beauty & power of sacrifical love.

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