After re-reading Harry Potter as an adult and learning life lessons from the series, we thought it was due time to revisit some of our other fave children’s books to see if they dropped any wisdom we weren’t privy to as a kiddo. So, without further ado, here are nine of our favorite children’s books with some pretty adult life lessons (AKA better get the tissues out… these childhood classics will make you ugly cry).


1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein ($18): This childhood classic has been read to kids for generations, but it’s not just a sweet book about a tree giving some of its branches to a little tyke. The hidden life lesson highlights the true struggle of maternal selflessness. While the giving tree sacrifices every part of itself for the boy’s happiness, it slowly fades away. But in the end, it’s that sacrifice that makes the tree happy. We’re not crying; you are!


2. The Giver by Lois Lowry ($9): While most of us probably read this short novel in grade school, re-reading it as a grown up reveals a secret adult message. The notion that everyone in this world is supposed to look and act the same (and without love, no less) is terrifying… especially when the dystopia draws crazy parallels to our own messed-up society.


3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch ($6): No one can make it through this book without tearing up. NO ONE. Sure, the song is catchy. But seeing a grown man sing his childhood lullaby to his dying mother? Well, that’s just the most heartbreaking lesson about the circle of life we’ve ever heard.

4. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie ($17): As a kid, stumbling onto a place with pirate fights, pixie dust and no parental supervision seems like the best find ever. But after re-reading the popular classic as adults, we can see why someone might need to create a place where they never grow up… and it’s just damn tragic.


5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak ($19): We were mega excited to see the praise this book got when the live-action movie was announced. It definitely gave us an excuse to re-read it as an adult. Just like Max and his Wild Things, we too need to escape the real world from time to time. Unfortunately for us, a hot supper isn’t always guaranteed upon our return.


6. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss ($15): Tackling very timely environmental issues, this kiddo tale is heartbreaking for today’s adults. While the greed of the Once-ler and the destruction of the Truffula Forest may be resolved in the end, our own environmental problems are going to take a lot longer than 72 pages to figure out — but we’re still hopeful.


7. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch ($7): While this book may be a kickass story about not needing a prince to succeed in life (AKA we can slay dragons all by ourselves, thank you very much), it’s heartbreaking to see Elizabeth marry a lousy prince just because it’s the thing to do. Oh, and we totally know guys like Prince Ronald exist IRL and it makes us hella sad. So there’s that…


8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ($11): Another childhood classic that was released as a film earlier this year, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story of true love and childhood wonder crosses genres and generations. But it’s also home to possibly the most heartbreaking adult lessons of all: Just like the narrator’s artistic dreams were crushed by busy, unimaginative adults, we too have the power to both build and crush other people’s dreams. SOOO, let’s support our sisters and bros, folks!


9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss ($10): We’ve probably all annoyed our parents at some point or another singing the ever-so-catchy “Welcome Christmas” song. But while we loved the mischievous and grumpy Grinch as kids, as adults we can understand Dr. Seuss’s not-so-subtle message about how absurd consumerism is during the holidays. Thanks, Cindy-Lou, for this epic life lesson on the real meaning of Christmas (and for being the ultimate hair icon of our formative years).

Have you re-read any children’s books lately? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Getty)