Lessons I Learned from Children’s and Young Adult Literature

blubberI’m about to admit something that many women in my age-group would be embarrassed to admit:  I have no significant childhood memories of reading Judy Blume.  I never read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.  I never read Then Again, Maybe I Won’t.  I may have read Blubberbut the only thing I remember about it is the cover image of a girl standing in front of a blackboard with a whale drawn on it.

However, as an aficionado of children’s literature, I have an appreciation for how influential Judy Blume’s work has been and, with Blume’s book Tiger Eyes now a film, I feel inspired to salute the contribution of Blume and other children’s book authors by saying a bit about what kids’ books have taught me over the years.

ferdinandThe Story of Ferdinand

     by Munro Leaf:

Finding your own brand of happiness is more important than looking good in front of others.

The Giving Tree

     by Shel Silverstein:

Kindness is great.  Selfishness isn’t.

peter rabbitThe Tale of Peter Rabbit

     by Beatrix Potter:

A watering can is not a good hiding place.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

     by Judi Barrett:

Being allowed to choose what you eat and when is a privilege.  Also, a giant stale loaf of bread held together with peanut butter makes for a sea-worthy vessel.

paper bag princessThe Paper Bag Princess

     by Robert Munsch:

Being clever and resourceful is better than being rich or tidy-looking.

Where the Wild Things Are

     by Maurice Sendak:

Sometimes, a wild rumpus is the only sensible option.

The Velveteen Rabbit

     by Margery Williams:

The love of others makes us real in a way we cannot achieve alone.

charlottes webCharlotte’s Web

     by E. B. White:

There’s nothing wrong with crying over a spider.


     by Roald Dahl:

Reading and magic go hand-in-hand.

Tuck Everlasting

     by Natalie Babbitt:

Changing isn’t as scary as staying the same forever.


Anne of Green Gables

     by L. M. Montgomery:

Some of the best kindred spirits are the unlikely ones.

The Song of the Lioness Quartet

     by Tamora Pierce:

The king of thieves is better than the prince…way better.

Liz Gillett


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