Re-Reading Children’s Literature As An Adult

My own reading journey began with the Boxcar Children and a Quaker Oats tin filled with lollipops, establishing an association between reading and sweetness that would last a lifetime.  I grew up seeing people read, and the pleasure it brought them, primarily my Daddy and grandmother.  I suppose Daddy grew up loving to read because my grandmother taught him the wonder of books.  But whatever the reason, I saw him read daily: Lawrence Sanders, Rex Stout, John Grisham, the Bible.  One of the first books Daddy and I ever read together was The Black Stallion.  I couldn’t recount the plot of that book if my life depended on it, but I’ve placed it prominently on my bookshelf to remind me of evenings we spent listening to the wind outside, pretending we could hear wolves howling, relishing the security and safety of home.

Now, as a mother, I read several picture books each day to my little boy.  His favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are.  Thus, the works of Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle have proudly joined the ranks of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I still continue to read, and enjoy, as an adult.  My adult brain can verbalize what I love about children’s mysteries: You commence reading believing wholeheartedly that everything will work out; that Frank, Joe, or Nancy will solve the case, that people will be brought to justice, and in the end the “good guys” will all sit down to pie and lemonade, looking superb while doing it.  No loose ends, no stone unturned, and for about two hundred pages you can pretend that all is right with the world.  My four-year-old can’t quite verbalize what it is he loves about Where the Wild Things Are, but if I had to guess, I would say it’s the magic.  The possibility of encountering another world right from your bedroom, of friendship with monsters who love you unconditionally and do exactly what you ask them to do.  And when you tire of that world, or realize you’re hungry, you can always go back home where your supper is waiting for you.

Here are five quotes from children’s literature to ignite that desire to get in touch with your inner child.  Do some thinking about the thoughts and feelings you have when you read these snippets from beloved children’s books.

I hope you will share other books and quotes that have been meaningful to you in the comments.  What is one book you associate with your childhood? If the memories surrounding that book are beautiful, could you re-read it? How do you think your experience might be different today, versus when you read it for the first time?


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