A good children's book—like a strong smell or a catchy song—brings back visceral, formative memories. And many of the books that stick out so strongly in our minds are memorable because their themes are relevant and important at all stages of our lives. So, we decided it was time to revisit some of our favorites and remind ourselves of the most basic—yet most crucial—moral lessons they taught us. Click through to see seven that we still think about, and consider giving them a reread.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!Whether you’ve just reached a milestone or you’re figuring out where to go next, Dr. Seuss, the Grand Poobah of kiddie lit, imparts the perfect advice: Life will happen, you will happen. This story serves as an important reminder that there is sure to be disappointment, uncertainty, and loneliness along any road, but there will also be joy, excitement, and fulfillment. And in the typical Dr. Seuss fashion, he illustrates a world no less colorful than our own, and reminds us how our society keeps us forever striving towards the next goal. It’s easy to forget to live in the moment. But if you don’t believe us, believe Dr. Seuss—you will inevitably go somewhere.
Random House Children's Books, Oh, The Places You'll Go!, $11.09, available at barnesandnoble.com.
The Rainbow FishThose of you who are familiar with The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister will remember being drawn to the fish’s lustrous foil fins. But this story did more than get us hooked on shiny things; it follows a vain fish who takes pleasure in being admired for his beautiful scales, until he realizes no one wants to hang with a guy who is selfish and self-satisfied. What’s the use of physical beauty if no one appreciates it? The Rainbow Fish teaches us that true beauty comes from within and is shown through acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion.
North-South Books, Inc., The Giving Tree, $13.52, available at barnesandnoble.com.
The Giving TreeDo you give everything away and expect nothing in return? Or do you mooch off of what others have to give without offering any compensation? In The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein inspires us to evaluate our own selfish and/or selfless ways, and makes us seriously consider what a healthy relationship is.
HarperCollins Publishers, The Giving Tree, $12.69, available at barnesandnoble.com.
The Very Hungry CaterpillarEveryone loves Eric Carle’s eye-catching illustrations and simple stories about nature and growth. As one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar holds a special place in our hearts, letting us marvel at the world’s organic magic.
Penguin Young Readers Group, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, $5.99, available at barnesandnoble.com.
If You Give a Moose a MuffinIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff was good, but If You Give a Moose a Muffin is even better. The idea of inviting a gregarious moose into your home for a quick snack is still insanely hilarious, even after all these years. The lessons are the same in each book: One thing always leads to the next. Also, always keep baking supplies handy in case an unexpected guest comes through. Also, does anyone have a muffin we could snack on?
HarperCollins Publishers, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, $12.54, available at barnesandnoble.com.
Where The Wild Things AreJust a quick glance at this book reminds us of the extraordinarily creative imagination we possessed as kids. Maurice Sendak’s bright illustrations make the transformation of Max’s bedroom into a forest a magical experience. The characters and conflict in the story are ones that everybody can identify with, which makes Where The Wild Things Are an enjoyable read no matter what age you are.
HarperCollins Publishers, Where The Wild Things Are, $13.80, available at barnesandnoble.com.
The Berenstain Bears: Don’t PolluteThe Berenstain Bears books are the G.O.A.T. of childhood book series. (Editor's note: That stands for "greatest of all time." Apparently?). Don’t Pollute raises the importance of taking care of the environment, which is obviously still relevant. Through detailed illustrations, this book spreads the message that everybody can (and should) go green.
Random House Children's Books, The Berenstain Bears: Don't Pollute, $4.99, available at barnesandnoble.com.