15 Children's Books That Taught Us Life Lessons For Our 20s

Kids who spend their childhoods surrounded by books tend to grow up and continue to love books. And when you think about it, it just makes sense. The things you read as a child stick with you, even if you don't think about them that often. And even if nothing else, books teach us empathy. Just look at Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail: she devotes her life to making sure kids have something to read and love when they grow up. Because that's what her own mother did for her.

There are more amazing children's books out there than ever before — amazing books that are sure to inspire kids long into the future. From Rad American Women A to Z (teach your daughter the alphabet using amazing women!) to the anti-fairytale Too Many Princesses!, we can change the ways kids see the world in an amazing new way.

But these life-changing books aren't a completely new thing. Millennials grew up with pretty empowering books, too. Books that instilled life lessons that we can still use in our 20s. The Little Engine That Could is still relevant, because I don't know about you, but I get through most Monday mornings by just telling myself "I THINK I CAN!" If you need a little more wisdom — don't we all? — here are 15 children's books that prepared us for adulthood.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Lesson: There's no place like home.

This is an easy one. Dorothy wants nothing more than to find her way back to Kansas after the tornado hits, despite being in an incredible new world. Sometimes, no matter how far away you move, or the reasons behind it, all you want to do is go home. L. Frank Baum taught us this one from an incredibly young age — we just had to grow up before we knew what he meant.


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The Lesson: Looks aren't everything.

Who knew we were reading such a body-positive novel when we were only in middle school! Westenfeld's Uglies series explored what he meant to be pretty, and what happened if you chose not to be. It was definitely ahead of its time, and delivered a pretty important message that lots of us carried with us into our 20s!


The Baby-sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

The Lesson: Don't be afraid to think big.

If Kristy's Big Idea taught us anything, it was that with a little help from our friends and a lot of passion and motivation, anything is possible. The same rings true for your 20s. It might not be a baby-sitters club anymore, but maybe you want to start your own business. Either way, you need a lot of will power, but now more than ever, it feels like anything is possible for young women, if we just keep pushing for it.


The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Lesson: Stand out from the crowd.

The Giver showed us a world where everything had to be the same. It was a terrifying place, a dystopia no one wants to visit. But it also taught us an important lesson in standing out. Blending into the crowd and doing the same thing everyone else does will get you nowhere, and fast. As we get older and it gets harder to speak out against the crowd, The Giver 's message becomes increasingly important.


The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The Lesson: I think I can, I think I can.

Tell yourself that you can, and then do it. We have our parents, teachers, and peers to tell us this as we grow up. But once we reach our 20s and have to actually Adult on our own, we tend to forget. Basically, The Little Engine That Could is the tale of a twentysomething just trying to survive until happy hour.


The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Lesson: If you care about something, take action to protect it.

Or, you know "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not."


Corduroy by Don Freeman

The Lesson: Friends will love you in spite of your flaws.

Corduroy spends the entire book looking for a button to fix his overalls, but the little girl who buys him loves him even though a piece of him is missing. It's an adorable story, and one we can all carry with us into adulthood. None of us are perfect, and our friends are here for us anyway.


Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Lesson: Never be afraid to use your imagination

The book might have made us cry, but at its heart held a lesson even adults can use: use your imagination. It's up there with The Baby-sitters Club in its encouragement of creative thinking, but it bears repeating! Use your imagination, set goals for yourself, and see them through to the end.


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Lesson: Call your mom.



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

The Lesson: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

We all have an idea of what our lives "should" be, or "should" look like. Sometimes it's hard to escape those shoulds enough to actually make them happen. Take Dumbledore's advice in those moments. Don't get so caught up in pursuing what you think you should have, or want, or be, that you forget to live int he process.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

The Lesson: "We're all mad here."

We're all going crazy just trying to figure things out, but that didn't stop Alice from having a pretty amazing time, and making it out just fine in the end. You will, too.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

The Lesson: Bad days end, even when it feels like they won't.

Alexander had one, and so will you, probably many of them. But they will pass!


The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Lesson: Your family is there, even when you have nothing else.

Our favorite prairie family went through a lot of hard times. They traveled around in that wagon, they set up an entirely new life out on the prairie, and they survived some harsh winters together. Even when times were at their worst, they were there for each other. As we get older and move away from our families, this is a lesson we can always keep in mind!


Matilda by Roald Dhal

The Lesson: Books can set you free.

Whether it's a novel that let's you escape your day, or an eye-opening work on nonfiction, make time to read. Even if it's just during your commute in the morning. It saved Matilda's life, after all!


Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems

The Lesson: Get some sleep.

It's more and more common to stay up late, push yourself to do just one more thing. But give yourself a set time to wind down, and don't let the pigeon stay up late! (That's you, you are the pigeon!)


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