Children’s books can be more than just bedtime stories used to put your child to sleep. Each book can hold a valuable life-changing message with the potential to create a better world. They can shape a child’s future, define their personality, help them cope with life’s horrors, give them hope and so much more. The Guardian recently posted an article about how children’s books can change the world through increasing empathy and understanding of some of the world’s issues. This article made me think that some children books deserve more credit than actually given to them by some readers. So I have listed at least 6 life lessons I’ve learned from children’s books. This list includes everything from a smart little girl who is neglected by her parents to a strange looking creature protecting the environment. A perfect way to appreciate the powerful messages in these classics!
10 Life Lessons from children’s books:
1. “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” – A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh is more than a bear that loves honey, he has also proved himself as a wise philosopher. In this thoughtful quote, Winnie-the-Pooh teaches readers to make an effort to go after their dreams, instead of waiting around for the opportunity to arise. This is an important lesson as sometimes in life the opportunity may never happen and you have to make first move to be truly be happy!
2. “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.” ― Roald Dahl, Matilda
Knowledge is the definitely the most powerful weapon in this story. Matilda learns to manipulate the cruel adults in her life through the knowledge she learns from reading. She demonstrates that with a strong mind and determination you can overcome any unfortunate situation in your life.
3. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
The little prince is full of beautiful messages to inspire the mind. My favourite quote above summarises the story perfectly. The quote suggests that you can see many things with your eyes and make many judgements right or wrong. But it is only with your heart that you can feel and truly understand people by knowing them, which is the important part.
4. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
The Lorax is a wonderful tale about the environment and how we need to preserve the natural world. The story emphasises the importance of taking action to change the world and it is only by demonstrating great passion for a cause that change can actually happen.
5. “It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that.” – Judith Viorst, Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
This story puts life into perspective for children, as the quote about suggests everyone has bad days, but these days don’t last. As in the story, Alexander learns that everyone has bad days, but tomorrow will just have to be better. Inspiring your children and adults alike that even if the universe is against you, never give up.
6. “You must never feel badly about making mistakes…as long as you take the trouble to learn from them.” – Norton Juster , The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth is a book filled with valuable lessons, but the one that sticks out most for me is in the quote above. Most people are afraid of making mistakes, as they see them as a failure and do whatever it takes to avoid them. However this quote suggests that making mistakes can be a learning opportunity to develop yourself, increase your understanding or even learn a new skill. So the next time you make a mistake, you can see it as an opportunity to make yourself a better person and not a failure.
7. “A person’s a person no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears A Who!
This story emphasises the importance of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. When Horton discovers how meaningful a little speck of dust can be when he meets the creatures of Whoville. The mayor of Whovile convinces Horton that every voice counts through adopting the mantra, “A person’s a person no matter how small.”.
8. “A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to life up my life a trifle.” – E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte may be the wisest spider you ever read about in a children’s book. Throughout the story Charlotte works vigorously to save Wilbur and even though she is dying at the end of the novel, she motivates herself to write the word that will secure his safety. Charlotte teaches Wilber that generosity and helping others can give your life a meaning.
9. “At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done- then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
The very sulky Mary Lennox finds happiness in the beauty of the secret garden and decides this share this with her cousin, Colin. Colin has been treated for a disability his whole life and believes his dying, but Mary is determined that this is all his mind. Through persistent practice, Mary teaches Colin to walk, shocking all the adults when they see that Colin can run and play just like any other child. The story teaches us that we must never allow limitations to restrain our abilities, even if those limitations have been set by those who love us most.
10. “… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.” Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree
In this classic tale of giving, a tree and a boy grow old together. The tree gives the boy everything she can offer, making the boy feel delighted and happy. Until one day after the boy keeps on taking and taking from the tree, there is nothing left but a stump. Only when it’s too late the boy realises that generosity should be appreciated and returned and never taken for granted.
William Styron once said “You live several lives while reading.” Having the opportunity to read about the lives of different characters in stories can motivate and inspire you to be a better person and see someone’s life from a different perspective. So what do you think? Are the children books mentioned in this post just good bedtime stories or can they offer the reader some valuable life-lessons which they can treasure for life?