The Best Children’s Books to Read as a Senior Adult

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Adults often lament the loss of innocence characterized by simpler times of a child’s life – when life was not dictated by deadlines, traffic jams, and other adult issues.

Children’s books tend to present the world (and essential moral lessons) in the simplest ways. If these books are reread as an adult, they offer gentle reminders of life’s potential – at a time when adult responsibilities are often overwhelmingly complicated and challenging.

Why Read Story Books for Adults?

If you are like most, escaping the responsibilities and reality of adulthood — even if only for a short while, is usually a secret desire.  One of the easiest ways to release yourself from life’s burdens as an adult is to reread children’s stories as adults.  

Rereading children’s books for adults is the most direct way to hop aboard a wonderful nostalgic trip – traveling back to those times when wonder was your driving force as you began to make sense of the world around you.

The Magic Pudding – The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum & His Friend – Norman Lindsay

Published in the 1918, The Magic Pudding is considered classic Australian literature, which is why it makes the list of one of the best children’s books for adults. Norman Lindsay, history reveals, wrote this children’s classic to settle a bet with a friend – Do children prefer to read about food or fairies?

 The Magic pudding, one of Australia’s finest kids books for adults. The fascinating thing about the magic pudding is that whenever it is eaten, it always reappears and is wanted by the ‘pudding thieves.’ The magic pudding is protected Bunyip Bluegum, and his two friends run amok and, in the end, end up in court – officiated by playing cards which would prefer to eat the pudding than try the case.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Suess

Publish in 1990, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! represents the last book published during Dr. Suess’s lifetime. This illustrated tale – written in the same rhythmic pace as the famous Green Eggs and Ham, speaks to the challenges and joys created simply by paying attention to your journey through life.  

The story is narrated, although the main character is the reader – who travels across various fascinating landscapes only to end up at The Waiting Place. The Waiting Place, which is a bit symbolic of the human condition, is a place where everyone waits passively for something to happen.

This children’s classic reminds adults of a valuable life lesson – that all you really have is today and that if you want to achieve anything in life, it is up to you to find the way.

The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth was published in the early 1960s. It is a story of a bored young boy Milo (and his dog Tock), who receive a magic gift – a tollbooth with the powers to transport him to the Kingdom of Wisdom. This kingdom, which was once quite prosperous but has become troubled. Milo and Tock began a search for the two exile princesses of the Kingdom – Rhyme and Reason.

This adventurous story unfolds as Milo encounters and then learns life’s most valuable lesson – a love of education. Throughout the story, Milo begins to find out that he loves through various idioms and clever puns. Ultimately, Milo uses his newfound love of learning in his personal development to create a life that is full of everything but boredom. The Phantom Tollbooth is ranked among the best children’s books for adults, often compared to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.

Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

Winnie-the-Pooh is a beloved story of Pooh Bear, an anthropomorphic (human-like) teddy bear, and his friends in Ashdown Forest in England. It was written by A.A. Milne in the mid-1920s. Pooh is a bit naïve but a marvelous poet who is usually motivated by common sense. Pooh, despite his naivety, has a clever notion that often saves his friends from mishaps.

In fact, a BBC poll in 2014 noted that Winnie the Pooh ranked among the top loved story books for adults – for the past 150 years. Pooh is loved by adults; he is a lover of treats and understands how to negotiate challenging times. And Winnie the Pooh shows adults how to love, and that love truly can change the world.

The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf

Munro Leaf’s classic, The Story of Ferdinand, is a favorite kids book for adults. Published in 1936, the story tells the tale of a bull who prefers to smell the flowers rather than fight a matador in the bull ring. While Ferdinand’s mother believes he will be lonely not playing with friends, he finally realizes that Ferdinand is quite content by himself and decides to let him be himself.

Of course, Ferdinand grows to the largest bull but still prefers to smell the flowers. One day, men come looking for the strongest bull to fight. And while all the bulls clamor to be chosen, Ferdinand is content smelling the flowers until getting stung by a bee. His wild reaction is mistaken by the men as aggression, and they pick him. In the ring, he won’t fight but sit among the flowers thrown from fans in the stands. In the end, he is taken back to his home and does what he loves most – smell flowers.

Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing – Judy Bloom

Judy Blume wrote Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing in the 1970s. It became the first in a series of kids books for adults – the Fudge Series. This favorite tells the story of Peter Warren Hatcher, a smart, if naïve, nine-year-old boy, and his relationship with his younger 2.5-year-old brother – Farley Drexel Hatcher. Farley, who prefers the nickname Fudge, often misbehaves without punishment from their parents.

Fudge is constantly annoying his little brother and especially loves to taunt his pet turtle – Dribble.  When Fudge eats Dribble, he faces a moral dilemma as his pet is gone, but his brother is sick and may need an operation. And to boot, Fudge is getting all the attention. But in the end, for being a good sport, Peter’s parents get him a dog which he names Dribble in honor of his pet turtle.  

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time, published in 1963, is an award-winning young adult novel. Among the favorite story books for adults, A Wrinkle in Time’s main characters – Meg (a female protagonist who was unusual for the time it was published), Charles, and Calvin, journey through time & space on a mission to save Charles’ father and the world. Ironically, this beloved novel was rejected by more than two dozen publishers at first.

Larger issues developed behind the storyline reveal the constant battle between light and darkness as they evolve and mature into young adolescents. Weaved within this young adult novel are life questions that relate to one’s spirituality and life purpose because the characters often fact conflicting scenarios with regard to love, goodness, and the divine. A Wrinkle in Time is a novel that has also been hailed as a story that empowers young and old female readers.

The Eleventh Hour – Graeme Base

The Eleventh Hour is an illustrated children’s book for adults, written in rhyme in 1989 by Australian writer Graeme Base. The Eleventh Hour won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Picture Book of the Year. In the Eleventh Hour, Horace, an elephant, decides to have a party as his eleventh birthday approaches. He invites ten of his best friends (animals) to dine on a feast Horace made and play eleven games.

But, when 11 O’clock strikes – the time for the birthday feast to begin, they discover that someone has eaten the food Horace prepared. While they remain confused as to who ate the food, they begin to accuse each other. But it is up to the reader – young and old, to carefully analyze (and appropriately deduce the correct conclusion) based on the pictures throughout the book and all the words in the story and solve the mystery of who at all the food.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Published in 1964 by Roald Dahl, a British author, Charlie and Chocolate Factory is a beloved story of a poor young boy who lives with his parents and four grandparents in a tiny rundown home. Charlie, with a stroke of luck, finds one of the five golden tickets for a tour of the Chocolate Factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka.

Throughout the story, each of the other children visiting the factory gives in to poor decisions and impulses that ultimately cause them to leave the factory tour at various stages. Each moral lesson is highlighted with a dance/song combo number from the Oompa-Loompas – small mischievous workers with a solid moral compass. In the end, only good-natured Charlie Bucket is left to receive the grand prize. Willy Wonk reveals his gift to Charley – the entire chocolate factory is now Charlie’s.

Ada Twist, Scientist – Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

Ada, like most kids of all ages, has an insatiable curiosity for everything in her world. Recognizing the benefit of her unquenchable appetite for knowledge, Ada’s parents try to encourage and support her, even when she considers putting the cat into the washing machine.

Ada Twist, Scientist, offers the reader an engaging and fascinating exploration of the concepts of both science and passion. One of the storylines is designed to encourage children (and primarily girls) to consider careers outside traditional roles and follow their hearts in a field that allows them to do what they love.


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