12 Classic Children's Books You Still Love as an Adult Rachel Hintz

April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day! Let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember some of our favorite children’s books that we continue to love as adults.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is a pretty interesting commentary on childhood, innocence, anger (Max’s “wild side”) and growing up. Most of these themes were obviously lost on me as a child, but that’s one thing that is pretty cool about rereading old childhood favorites: some have a deeper meaning for the adult reader.

Where the Wild Things AreImage via muddyingthewaters

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The story begins with Peter’s mother warning him against venturing through Mr. McGregor’s garden, because that is where Peter’s father met his untimely death. Peter, being the adventurous and curious bunny that he is, doesn’t heed his mother’s advice and nearly meets his end. He loses his coat and shoes, which for some reason horrified me as a child, and barely escapes the garden with his life. That’ll teach him to disobey his mother! Let this be a lesson to all children! Listen to your mom or else, you may be eaten by your neighbor. (Okay, maybe we shouldn’t take this lesson completely literally.)

Peter RabbitImage via attheamericantable.com

The Mitten by Jan Brett

This wintery Ukranian folktale is one that I continue to love to page through as an adult. I love the incredibly beautiful illustrations. This story of a lost mitten that gets adopted by many different forest creatures is such a heartwarming tale, and in the end, the little boy gets his mitten back, much to my relief.

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

It might be because I just wanted a puppy so badly, or maybe it was just the sweet voice in which my mother would read the story to me. But either way, this endearing classic teaches more about obedience and listening to momma! Seems to be a common theme in children’s books…

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

A sweet story of a treasured stuffed animal and his quest to become a real rabbit through the love of the child that owns him. This story makes me tear up a bit… so much nostalgia. Read with a box of Kleenex handy.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Image via tscpl.org

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

This children’s book is about a family of miniature people who live in a house and “borrow” items from the normal sized family that lives there in order to survive. It was so funny for me as a child to imagine little tiny people making their own furniture and small household items from our normal sized things – for example, taking a tiny spool of thread and using it as a coffee table. Such a creative and fantastic tale to be enjoyed, even as an adult.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Here’s another tearjerker for you. This popular children’s classic stars Charlotte the spider, Templeton the rat and Wilbur the “radiant, terrific, humble” pig. It’s sure to make you question chomping down on ham or bacon… at least right after reading about this endearing pig. Farm life, man. I just want all the animals to live forever, is that too much to ask?

Wilbur and TempletonImage via chrisdevlinwrites.com

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman

I found this description on Wikipedia to be pretty hilarious: “The book describes the actions and interactions of a group of highly mobile dogs, who operate cars and other conveyances in pursuit of work, play, and a final mysterious goal: a dog party.” This description could lead you to believe this is a complex book with big words, when really it is very Dr. Suess-y with short, funny rhymes and silly simple sentences. It’s a great book for very young children, as the illustrations are easy to follow and the words are easy to read. I remember asking my mom to read this classic to me over, and over, and over

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

It would be amiss of me to not mention Dr. Suess somewhere in this list. Green Eggs and Ham is such a childhood classic, along with so many other Seuss books. Goofy rhymes and silly pictures are attractive to pretty much any child, and if you are like me, pretty much every Dr. Seuss book was on your bedroom shelf.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Oh, Madeline. This story, set in Paris, France, was always so enchanting to my little girl self. The illustrations of ivy climbing the walls of her Catholic boarding school, the mystery of how she lived with all of these other little girls, her scary appendectomy, and even her fancy coat and hat all captured my imagination. I even had a Madeline doll, which I treasured.

MadelineImage via dotontheweb.blogspot.com

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florance Atwater

Naturally, this will always be a favorite book of mine, since penguins are my favorite. In this story, Mr. Popper and his family come to own Captain Cook, a male emperor penguin. One day, they receive a female penguin from the zoo. One thing leads to another and the two penguins make baby penguins, and before they know it, the Popper’s house is overrun with a whole bunch of penguins. Sounded pretty wonderful to me as a kid, and only now can I realize how such an idea would be so horrible. I remember thinking, Why is that such a bad thing? A house full of penguins sounds just about perfect to me.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

I don’t know about you, but this book series was the inspiration for a few years of Halloween costumes for me in elementary school. Pippi‘s persnickety, spunky, adventurous personality was something I could relate to as a young girl, and her superhuman strength was pretty exciting to read about. Plus, she has a monkey and a horse. What little girl doesn’t want a monkey and a horse? Here’s a cool fact: “Pippi” translates to “quirky” in old Swedish slang. That seems about right!

Are there any classic children’s books that you would add to this list?

Featured image via ShutterStock

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  1. Several of the stories on this list were part of my childhood, so seeing them listed gave me nostalgic and warm feelings, maybe even a couple of tears. My mom always tells me the story that whenever my grandpa came over I’d run and get ‘Go, Dog! Go!’ or one of the other Dr. Seuss stories. I still love The Velveteen Rabbit; it never fails to make me cry.

    Another story that I remember reading (and is one of my mom’s favourites) is Norbert Nipkin.

  2. I’m almost 30 and I’d still rather be in Narnia.

  3. So Many!!! There are lots of children’s books that seem to hold different meaning as an adult than when you read them as a kid. Dr. Seuss was good for that. He would disguise biting social commentary as kids’ stories, hence Bartholamew and the Oobleck (about the cloud-seeding fiasco in the 70′s), or the Butter Battle Book (his take on the Cold War). Shel Silverstein, whom I’m surprised didn’t make this list, is another. Did you know he wrote A Boy Named Sue for Johnny Cash AND cover of a Rolling Stone for Dr. Hook? Go back and read Where the Sidewalk Ends again, and you’ll wonder how you could ever have missed it!!!

  4. I will always love The Little Prince!

  5. Love You Forever!

  6. Little Gorilla

  7. Matilda :)

  8. The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe!

  9. My 2 year old nephew loves Go Dog Go. I read it 16 times yesterday. Then I hid the book.

  10. The Giving Tree!

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