11 Children's Books That'll Make You Cry As an Adult


It’s funny to reread your favorite children’s books as an adult. It’s like watching Shrek with your little cousins — you’re suddenly privy to all the grown-up jokes that are thrown in there. In revisiting the books you loved during childhood, you also have a vast wealth of emotions and experiences to tap into, and you’ll suddenly find yourself identifying with the book in a completely different way. Here are a few that are guaranteed to make you cry big, grown-up tears.

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'The Giver' by Lois Lowry

A dystopian society devoid of feelings and color is the setting for this frequently banned book. Twelve-year-old Jonas is chosen to receive all collected memories prior to his community’s settlement. What seemed like an almost-adventure story as a child will likely move you to tears as you unearth Lowry’s commentary on individualism and the beauty of all emotion.

The Giver by Lois Lowry, $7, Amazon

'Sarah, Plain and Tall' by Patricia MacLachlan

MacLachlan’s short novel tugs at all the heartstrings — there are delicate observations on homesickness, new beginnings, and the trauma of losing a parent, all seen through the eyes of a young girl.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, $4, Amazon

'Baby' by Patricia MacLachlan

A baby is left on 12-year-old Larkin’s family stoop with nothing but a note from the child’s mother saying that she’ll be back for the baby one day. Larkin’s family treats the baby like one of their own and grows to love her, even as they know their time with her is temporary. The impending sense of loss shrouding the book is devastating, and the baby’s memories, scattered throughout the book, are poignant.

Baby by Patricia MacLachlan, $7, Amazon

'Love You Forever' by Robert Munsch

A mother promises to love her son forever, and he returns that promise as she dies and passes it along to his own newborn child. Your box of tissues awaits.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, $8, Amazon

'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams

“That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy’s bed … And they had splendid games together, in whispers … And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy’s hands clasped close round him all night long …” And then the boy gets scarlet fever and the rabbit becomes real! Are you a puddle yet?

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, $11, Amazon

'A Chair for My Mother' by Vera B. Williams

Rosa is being raised by her single mom, a waitress who works long shifts at a diner. Their apartment burns down, and they put all of their pocket change into a jar, hoping to one day buy a chair big enough for them to cuddle together. Their happy ending will move you and make you grateful for the small luxuries you have.

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, $7, Amazon

'Charlotte's Web' by E.B. White

A tale about friendship, loyalty, life, and death. With the biggest lessons learned from the smallest of creatures, the spider’s death will have you blubbering into your book.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, $5, Amazon

'The Little Match Girl' by Hans Christian Andersen

Literally freezing to death in a doorway is a better option than going home for the Little Match Girl, whose father will beat her if she returns. Ya know … normal, cheery kid stuff.

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen, $7, Amazon

'Bridge to Terabithia' by Katherine Paterson

Granted, the book makes many kids cry the first time they read it, but you’ll find added depth and poignancy to the book’s portrait of friendship and early loss.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, $5, Amazon

'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak

This classic will have you wide-eyed as a child and teary-eyed as an adult, when you realize the underlying theme of home and remember the wild injustices you felt as a kid.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, $5, Amazon

'Mrs. Katz and Tush' by Patricia Polacco

An old Jewish woman and a young African-American boy bond over taking care of a stray cat and the oppression their families have overcome. The kindness of it all will make you cry and restore your faith in humanity.

Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco, $8, Amazon