Friday, April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day, and in celebration I will be sharing a few of my favorite children’s books my parents and grandparents have read to me as a child. I am long past the years of young age; however, I still appreciate the nostalgia in reading these books to this day.
Now that I am an adult, I can understand the more profound meanings behind the lighthearted words and images often present in these books. If any of these sound like your type of reading, go for it! Share with a friend, read to your younger siblings or just for your own enjoyment. Children’s books never get old, whether you pick one up at age 25 or 50. Everyone can take something away from these books, which pull you into a rose-colored world where anything is possible.
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is number one on my list—the charming illustrations and moral substance is strong in this book. This story is about a little boy, called the “Little Prince,” who encounters different people who take up adult functions on various asteroids he travels to. He meets a businessman who counts the stars, and a drunkard who claims he has to keep drinking to forget how ashamed he is of drinking. He then goes on to meet a lamplighter who repeatedly lights a lamp every morning and night as it is his only duty. Among these people, he also meets a conceited man who requires flattery and compliments from the little prince. This book paints an unflattering portrait of how narrow-minded adults can be, only focusing and placing importance on their jobs or required duties. In contrast, children are willingly open-minded because they are ready to (to) explore the world around them, whether they encounter good or bad things. My favorite quote from this book comes from a talking fox friend of the little prince—
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
This is a captivating read for people of any age—adults can certainly see the significance of the different people the little prince meets.
2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
To just put it out there right away, this book has made me cry on numerous occasions. Being home for winter break a few months ago, I picked it up from my dusty basement shelf and decided to give this book another read. I did not expect such a big wave of nostalgia and emotion to hit me. This tale is about a tree who gives up everything she has in love for the little boy who plays with her. However, the boy grows up and learns the ways of adulthood and all the things which come with it. The tree then gives all of her apples for the boy to sell, the branches to build him a home, and the trunk to make a boat. By now, the tree has nothing left to give, and the boy, now an old man, comes back to her—not asking for anything, just a place to rest. This story is short and sentimental, because it can be applied to every one of us in relation to the special person in our life—be it your mother, grandfather, or friend—who has sacrificed everything they had just to make us happy. It is a deeply moving story even for a children’s book, and you can take away a gleaning from the passing of time and the changes that come with growing from a young person to an adult and the loss and love that go with it.
3. Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Written in the lyrical rhyming style of Dr. Seuss, this book is centered on the many stages you will go throughout your life. The narrative guides the reader through the different places you will come across as you grow, which are symbolized through “The Waiting Place,” which is where people are stuck at a crossroads in their life and are unsure which path to go and “The Slump,” when you are down and maybe unmotivated to achieve your goals. However, the narrative continues on to be more uplifting, stating that you have the brains and strength to do whatever you want to do and go down whichever path you choose. The narrator emphasizes that there surely will be tough times and bumps in the road, but you can and will move mountains—it is just up to you… leading to my favorite quote from this book,
“It’s opener there, in the wide open air. Out there things can happen, and frequently do, to people as brainy and footsy as you.”
Reading these children’s books as an adult is an entirely new experience, as you now interpret things from a different perspective. I highly recommend these three books, and if you think deeply enough, you’re bound to take away meaning from them.