'Oh, The Places You'll Go': 7 Important Kids Books To Read As An Adult, Too
I’m planning on getting a new apartment soon, and when I do, I want to decorate it with children’s books. Before you call me a weird hipster (although, guilty as charged), hear me out.
Children's books are some of the loveliest pieces of literature that exist. They're simple, uplifting and often very wise.
They’re not trying to impress you with fancy words or scientific facts or tough topics. They’re just trying to teach you the simple lessons of being a human.
These are lessons that — amidst all of the impressive facts and big words — we sometimes forget.
There are some children's books that shouldn't just be for children; adults should read the ones that relay the lessons they need to be reminded of.
After all, we all need reminders for what's important and where we all started.
There are a few books that will proudly sit on both my future children’s bookshelves and my own. Here they are:
1. "Where The Wild Things Are"
"Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!"
Max is just a kid trying to be independent. He learns along the way that while it’s nice to have people who will listen to you, that doesn’t mean they love you — the ones who do love you are the ones who are worth keeping around.
We all want people to love us; we want promotions at work or millions to listen to our albums.
But at the end of the day, we can’t forget that it’s the ones who love us even when we’re causing a wild rumpus who are the ones worth fighting for. Insightful for a kids book, right?
Let’s put it this way: This children’s book was made into a movie geared more toward adults.
"And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all."
2. "I Like You"
"I like you because, when I tell you something special you know it’s special and you remember it a long long time. You say remember when you told me something special, and both of us remember."
I bought this book recently when I was out shopping with my mom, and she was so confused as to why I wanted to buy a kids book.
I mean, people have read this book to each other at their weddings. No message has ever been simpler or more important.
When someone is important to us, it's usually because of the little things. We like them because they remember things about us.
We like them because they’re not afraid of our bad moods. We like them because we just do.
It doesn’t have to be so complicated. We can just like someone, and have that be that, and that's what "I Like You" reminds us.
"And I like you because when I am feeling sad you don’t always cheer me up right away. Sometimes it is better to be sad. You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute. You want to think about things. It takes time."
3. "I’ll Love You Forever"
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."
We’re old now, or at least we feel like it. We’ve grown a lot since the days when we used to flush our parents' things down the toilet, but to them, we’ll always be their rambunctious little babies.
For our parents, we’re still just their kids, and no matter how old we get or how far away we move from them, they’ll always be just a drive or flight away, ready to hold us and tell us that everything is going to be okay.
They really will love us forever. We have to try not to forget that, and to call them more often.
"But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town. If all the lights in her son's house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed. "If that great big man was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth."
4. "Goodnight Moon"
"Goodnight stars, goodnight air."
Okay, you might be rolling your eyes at this one. This book essentially just says goodnight to the inanimate objects of a bedroom. Big whoop, right? Ugh, no, how wrong you are, good sir.
Us 20-something go-getters are always rushing around everywhere. We dash from one place to the next and rarely slow down to appreciate the simple things, like a red balloon.
Sometimes we don’t even sleep. "Goodnight Moon" reminds us that at the end of the day, we should slow down and remember the things we’re thankful for.
You don’t have to go through and say goodnight to every object in your room, of course. Just remember the things in your life that have been there all day — even as you rushed and ranted — and be thankful.
Go to sleep being thankful. Wake up again, still thankful.
"Goodnight noises everywhere."
5. "Where The Sidewalk Ends"
"I will not play at tug o' war. I'd rather play at hug o' war, where everyone hugs instead of tugs, where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins."
Shel Silverstein... God bless him. His poems range from the funny to the heartfelt, and childhood reading would have been vastly worse without him.
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" has some particularly good works (although they’re all pretty outstanding).
Through the silly rhymes, we’re still given important pieces of wisdom, like we should all stop fighting and just learn to love each other and anything is possible.
They are simple lessons, but how often do we remember to remind ourselves of them?
Recite a Shel Silverstein poem to yourself as you go about your day. I promise, it will instantly feel 10 times more positive and possible.
"Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child, listen to the DON'TS, listen to the SHOULDN'TS, the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON'TS, listen to the NEVER HAVES then listen close to me – anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be."
6. "The Little Engine That Could"
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. The train started moving."
"The Little Engine That Could" is a true classic. I remember reading this book as a kid and marveling at the intricate toys and delicious looking treats. The illustrations were so beautiful, and the message was so simple.
Aside from reminding us to always try even when the odds are stacked against us, it also encourages us not to be the people who refuse to help cheer for the underdog.
The two mean trains refused to help out the train stuck at the bottom of the mountain because they were more successful or didn’t feel like using the energy to help someone else.
We have to remember that no matter how successful we get, we should always take time to help others. Always.
"I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could."
7. "Oh, The Places You’ll Go"
"You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go."
"Oh, The Places You’ll Go" was the theme of my high school's senior yearbook. As graduates get ready to move on to college or adulthood, everyone loves to quote this book because, well, it’s true. There are so many places to go.
As we travel on our journeys, it’s easy to forget just how many places there are out there, how many paths we can take and all the things there are to work toward.
Sometimes, we will fail and sometimes, we will be alone. We are not invincible, but the world does hold endless possibilities.
We will fail, but we will also succeed; we just have to keep going.
"All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot."
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, I urge you, find your nearest bookstore and head to the children’s section.
It’s humbling and so refreshing to be reminded of the simple lessons life has to offer, the same lessons we learned long ago on playroom floors or nestled next to mom and dad.
I’m telling you, it’s worth it to remember them.
Also, these books are all recorded on YouTube. I found a lot of them on there as I wrote this piece — you’re welcome.
"And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t Stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too."