Lessons Taught to You By Your Favorite Childhood Books

With spring break coming up, nothing beats returning home to where you’re treated like royalty by your parents and can reconnect with old friends. My favorite pasttime is going through old books that I've memorized down to the very last line. I recently flipped through my old childhood books, and I realized the messages were still pertinent to me even though I'm in college. Here are some examples of lesson I learned while taking a trip down memory lane.  

1. Ferdinand

Image courtesy of Stacking Books.

This book has such a great storyline, and it has recently been turned into a movie. Admittedly, I still haven’t seen it because I’m scared of the old “the movie will ruin the book” stigma (but if it’s on TV one day I’m not going to change the channel). Ferdinand is a bull who loves to sit on a hill relaxing and smelling flowers, while all the other bulls around him butt heads and fight with each other. Ferdinand becomes the biggest of the bulls, and he is chosen for the most important bullfight of all. However, once Ferdinand is placed in the bullring he doesn’t fight the matador but instead sits and smells the flowers the audience is wearing. The lesson to be learned from this is that your appearance or what is expected of you should not define you. You can be a bodybuilder who loves to interior decorate or be a super girly girl who is into engineering. There is no limit nowadays to what one is capable of, and now is the time to discover what your passions are.

2. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Image courtesy of Independent.

This lesson of this story is quite simple: If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. No life lesson here necessarily; I just seriously love this book. I also love If You Give a Moose a Muffin, but it serves basically the same lesson. If you give a moose a muffin, he’ll want some jam to go with it. Relatable, Mr. Moose.

3. The Giving Tree

Image courtesy of Leader Chat

This book was gifted to me when I was a kid, and this is possibly my favorite Shel Silverstein book I have ever received. That's saying a lot since I had everything from Where the Sidewalk Ends to Falling Up. This is the story of a tree that gives everything for the boy she loves and puts the boy’s desires before her own needs. Her purpose is defined by his dependence on her. When I was a kid I thought the moral of the story was that love is eternal and no matter what love prevails in the end, shown by the boy coming back to the tree after she is nothing but a stump. However, after rereading this book I have discovered a new lesson. My new interpretation is that if you have no boundaries and give your all to someone, you can often lose who you are and in this case end up as a stump with nothing left but co-dependence on one another. Self-destructive actions and unhealthy relationships can cause people to lose their self-worth, but the sooner someone recognizes these deteriorating results, the sooner they can separate themselves from that negativity and regain their strength and confidence. The beauty of this book is it can be interpreted in so many ways, and that’s why I love it so much.

4. Where the Wild Things Are

Image courtesy of East Bay Bike Party

Through the power of an active imagination, a person’s creativity can grow immensely. In this story, the restless troublemaker Max escapes his parents' controlling house to a world he imagined into existence containing terrifying monsters who preside in a wild jungle. He becomes king over these creatures and they “let the rumpus start” by letting loose without the judgements of adults, which in this case includes swinging through the trees of the jungle. Nowadays we often hold back ideas and reserve ourselves due to public standards. However, it can be healthy and beneficial to allow yourself the opportunity to revert back to a state of freedom and open-mindedness unaffected by societal norms. Some of my favorite moments are when I’m carefree at a festival or concert, or when I pursue an idea that I normally wouldn’t. Some of the greatest ideas in history come from taking a chance, and as Mark Zuckerburg says “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks”.

I hope this article brought back some friendly memories of old books you still love. When going home for spring break, take a chance to peruse through your old book shelf to bring back some memories that are sure to make you smile.