This semester at Miami, I decided to take a course in children's literature. After hearing great things about the teacher and the course readings, I was excited to take the course, but I definitely assumed it would be an easy GPA boost. What I didn't expect, however, was that these "easy" children's books were actually ones that were still incredibly relevant to my life today. That's why I'm choosing to share 10 books and the lessons they teach that could benefit all grownups today.
1. "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak
One of the first lessons kids learn as they approach adulthood is how to act and behave in a "civilized" and grown-up world. But what the wild Max teaches us is that sometimes it's okay to engage in a "wild rumpus" and that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Furthermore, even when we argue with our families (like Max and his mom), they will always love us and take care of us when we come back from our hectic and crazy ways.
2. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White
Though an unlikely duo, Charlotte and Wilbur teach everyone the importance of true friendship, the kind that both gives and takes. Most of all, true friendship does not judge, but rather comes when we love unconditionally and accept each other's faults. Though Charlotte admits to killing for food and eating blood, Wilbur still loves her for her many qualities. And while as humans our faults aren't as extreme, we could learn something from these two.
3. "Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt
Doing what is right is not always easy. And while Winnie learns this when she must free her friends from certain death, Babbitt also teaches us something else. Even though death is scary and immortality is often desired, "Tuck Everlasting" teaches us that every phase of life is as important and as necessary as it is inevitable. So instead of fearing adulthood and becoming an elder, embrace it, and live every day as if it were your last.
4. "Holes" by Louis Sachar
Even when fate, destiny, and a family curse all work against Stanley Yelnats and Zero, they never once blame their choices and consequences on the past. Instead, these two misfits teach all of us to take responsibility for our choices and defend our actions. Blaming others doesn't get us anywhere.
5. "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton
Despite cruel foster homes, the loss of his mother, poverty, and homelessness, Bud (not Buddy) faces all odds to find his forever home. And while some would consider his admittedly overactive imagination a hindrance, it is this very childlike naivety and innocence that keeps him going during the hard times. As grown-ups, it's important to embrace this same innocence at times to ensure that we too have the strength to continue on in the face of extreme adversity.
7. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
While I was surprised this was on our syllabus, Katniss Everdeen epitomizes strength and resilience. She teaches us the necessity of courage and the love that we should all exhibit in defending those we love, albeit in shockingly dystopian circumstances.
8. "Watership Down" by Richard Adams
Choosing to go against the status quo is never easy. While it could cause you to lose some fickle friends, in the end, always do what's right. The world may think you're insane like Fiver and Hazel, but, in the end, have confidence in knowing that you followed your heart.
9. "Ella Enchanted" by Gail Carson Levine
If you had no choice but to obey every command you were ever given, no matter how ridiculous or how cruel, like Ella, you would value independence no matter the cost. As adults, we have a taste of this independence, but sometimes we take it for granted. Ella reminds us that it's important to appreciate it and, if need be, to fight for it.
10. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry
Being numb and desensitized to the things around us is exactly what Lowry warns us against in "The Giver." While many would argue that ignorance is bliss, this story proves that knowledge is power. In the face of so many tragedies in such a tumultuous modern society, we should always choose to learn and to understand, no matter how painful that is.
I've really enjoyed rereading these books because not only do they bring back happy memories of being read to when I was a kid, but they also have taught me essential life lessons over again. I'd recommend each of these books to the adult reader because they are timeless and can teach us vital lessons no matter how old we are.