10 Books That Taught Me More Than Just How to Read

Reading is good for the soul. Whether you enjoy it or not (which you totally should because reading is cool) , it is an integral part of our society.

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My love for reading started at a very young age. The first book I ever remember reading was a large compilation of classic childhood folktales, fables, and fairytales. I also had a stack of books that I stashed under my bed so that I could stay up way past my bedtime with a book-light just to read one more story.  What I thought to be just a form of escape into fictional worlds with friendly monsters and hungry caterpillars actually turned out to teach me life lessons that I carry to this day.

1. The Velveteen Rabbit 

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This was my absolute favorite story as a child. The idea that an inanimate object could eventually come to life fed my fantasy-stricken mind with elaborate ideas. As I look back now, I realize that this book was a lesson on becoming “real”. Becoming real is becoming strong. Strong with who you are as a person. It also happens to be a lesson on love. God knows we all need that sometimes.

“It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

2. Amelia Bedilia

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The story of the most literal-minded housekeeper. While reading this as a child, it provided me with many laughs (and of course a new found appreciation for pie). Upon a second look, this book taught me that no two minds think alike. Our cognitive processing is different, even for small tasks such as changing the towels. However, while our thought processes and ideas may seem to clash, there is always a way to compromise and make things work. Thanks, Peggy Parish, for the delightful insight.

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Ah, the tale of a hungry caterpillar who eats constantly throughout the book–my kindred spirit. This book proves to be a wonderful tool for children to learn counting, various foods, and the days of the week. It also chronicles the lifespan of a caterpillar and its transformation into a butterfly. This also parallels with the journey of humans in becoming who they are. Sometimes we have to try a lot of different “foods” to find the “green leaf” that soothes us. Once we find the “food” that our soul desires, we are then able to transform into the butterfly we are meant to be.

4.The Little Red Hen

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This old Russian folktale chronicles the story of a little red hen who finds a grain of wheat and eventually grows it and makes it into bread. This book taught me about contribution. If you want to reap the benefits of a situation, you must do your part. It’s as simple as that. There are no hand-outs in life, and in order to enjoy the delicious bread at the end of the story, you have to put the work in.

5. The Rainbow Fish

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Classic. I LOVED this book. I had an interactive version that had stickers so you could “share” the shiny fins throughout the book. Besides the awesome stickers, this book provided me with a lesson on humility and pride. Even the most beautiful fish in the sea had no friends because he couldn’t share and thought he was better than everyone else. Don’t be a rainbow fish, you beautiful people. Be humble and share your fins.

6. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

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This is a West African folktale that depicts the reason mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. This elaborate tale chronicles how one small lie (or act in general) can affect the masses. It shows how our actions are not just selfishly involved, but rather they affect all those around us. Be aware of what you say and what you do, because it might just affect your reputation forever.

7. Harold and the Purple Crayon

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This book caught my eye as a child because I absolutely adored purple. It kept my attention because it taught me how to imagine and dream. So I say to my fellow readers, pick up that crayon and create.

8. The Story of Ferdinand

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Sweet Ferdinand just wanted to chill out and smell the flowers. He represented the ideal of contentment. Just because everyone else is doing something that conforms to societal norms, that does not mean you have to do it as well. Be content with who you are.

9. Where the Wild Things Are

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This enchanting story of Max and his monsters captures the essence of imagination. It also encompasses the idea of independence and coinciding struggles. Max is originally “immature” and sent to his room without dinner for acting up. Once his travels alone to where the wild things are come to a close, he is able to realize that he wants to return home to his parents not the same, but a changed person. Sometimes we have to leave the nest to realize who we are and what we want.

10. Green Eggs and Ham

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The classic story of “how do you know if you like it if you don’t try it?”….. This is true in all aspects of life. Go on adventures and try new things. What’s the worst that could happen? Plus, you might even meet a “Sam” of your own that makes you try new things that they know you’ll love!

A story is never just a story, it’s a lesson.

Stay Classy,

Savannah M.

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