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15 Children's Books That Actually Teach Parents Valuable Life Lessons

There are a million reasons why experts have always said that reading to your kid every day is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Regular story time helps to promote early literacy skills, gives you the chance to spend a little one-one-one time (sans screens), and — depending on the content of the story — can teach your kid some valuable lessons. But kids aren't the only ones who can get something out of stories involving monsters and talking animals. There are plenty of children's books that actually teach parents valuable life lessons, too.

Whether it's a book that helped to shape your own childhood or one that's all new to both you and your little one, there are so many classic kids' titles with messages that speak to readers of all ages. And the truth is, grown-ups don't stop loving children's books just because they're not children anymore. Whether you're the type who seeks out the most visually stunning kids' titles to serve as coffee table books or you crack up at adult versions of picture books (like Goodnight iPad), chances are children's literature has never really stopped being part of your life. And why should it? The same books that made you think as a kid are sure to inspire further contemplation now. Think of reading these as a refresher course in How Life Works, 101.

1'The Missing Piece'

'The Missing Piece' by Shel Silverstein

$12

Amazon

Don't let the line drawings fool you: This seemingly simple story about a circle in search of its missing piece is a deeply complex, philosophical meditation on independence, identity, and the quest for happiness. Life lesson: You don't need anyone or anything else to make you whole.

2'Eloise'

'Eloise' by Kay Thompson

$10

Amazon

Ooooooo, don't you just love Eloise? Since 1955, generations of new readers have dreamed of following in the footsteps of the ridiculously charming Eloise (i.e., leading a *rawther* fabulous life at the Plaza hotel). Life lesson: Live every day to the fullest.

3'Sylvester And The Magic Pebble'

'Sylvester and the Magic Pebble' by William Steig

$6

Barnes & Noble

When Sylvester the donkey finds a magic pebble, a hastily made wish comes with unexpected consequences (but learns in the process that love is stronger than magic). Life lesson: Family is more important than anything.

4'The Little Prince'

'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

$8

Barnes & Noble

On the surface, this iconic story is about a pilot who crash-lands in a desert and meets a mysterious little boy from space who asks him to draw a small sheep. Underneath, however, about so much more: Unconditional love, the meaning of life, friendship, generosity. Life lesson: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

5'Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day'

'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' by Judith Viorst

$18

Amazon

Waking up to find gum in your hair is generally a sign that the rest of the day isn't going to be the best ever, as Alexander discovers in this highly relatable story. Life lesson: Everybody has bad days, but this too shall pass.

6'Harold & The Purple Crayon'

'Harold & the Purple Crayon' by Crockett Johnson

$5

Amazon

The timeless tale of a highly imaginative little boy who can draw a world with his magical purple crayon that comes to life, this book has influenced many a young artist. Life lesson: If you believe in your dreams enough, you can make them come true.

7'Where The Wild Things Are'

'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak

$6

Amazon

One of the most critically acclaimed picture books of all time, the award-winning story of the outrageous journey a little boy named Max imagines after being sent to bed for being too wild continues to captivate readers over 50 years since its original publication. Life lesson: Face the metaphorical monsters that scare you and they'll lose all their power.

8The 'Harry Potter' Series

The 'Harry Potter' Series by J.K. Rowling

Prices vary

Amazon

An obvious choice, perhaps, but what list of children's books that adults can learn from would be complete without this series? You already know what these are about, but your kid might not yet... and you'll have a blast introducing her to this enchanted universe. Life lesson: Love conquers all.

9'The Giving Tree'

'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein

$11

Amazon

What begins as a sweet story about a little boy and an apple tree turns heartbreakingly poignant when the tree's decades of selfless generosity leave her a stump with nothing left to offer... except exactly what the boy (now an old man) needs. Life lesson: Give without reservations, and don't take loved ones for granted.

10'A Series Of Unfortunate Events'

'A Series of Unfortunate Events' by Lemony Snicket

Prices vary

Amazon

Delightfully devious and unapologetically grim, the books that spawned the hit Netflix show is the rare children's series that doesn't promise a happy ending (but still manages to be hilarious). No villain or tragedy can keep the Baudelaire children apart, not even the nefarious Count Olaf. Life lesson: Where there's a will, there's a way.

11'The Lorax'

'The Lorax' by Dr. Seuss

$13

Amazon

Published in 1971 (before "eco-conscious" was a buzzword), The Lorax is about one creature's efforts to save the planet and inspire others to do their part. Years later, this famous line is more relevant than ever: "Unless someone like you/cares a whole awful lot/nothing is going to get better/It's not." Life lesson: Change begins with you.

12'The Giver'

'The Giver' by Lois Lowry

$9

Amazon

Required middle school reading for decades, this book's protagonist is a 12-year-old boy named Jonas who becomes the "Receiver of Memory" for his sheltered community (and learns that sorrow is an inescapable part of happiness). Life lesson: Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

13'Amelia Bedelia'

'Amelia Bedelia' by Peggy Parish

$10

Amazon

As a maid, Amelia Bedelia's got a bit of an issue with taking instructions a bit too literally (she actually "draws" the drapes and "dresses" the chicken, for example), but her heart is always in the right place. Life lesson: Always think outside the box.

14'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory'

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' by Roald Dahl

$8

Amazon

A cautionary tale if ever there was one, this book has been a huge hit with young readers since 1964 (and movie-goers, too). From the joy of finding the golden ticket to the horror of watching a girl turn into a blueberry, there are so many unforgettable scenes! Life lesson: What goes around comes around.

15'Click, Clack, Moo'

'Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type' by Doreen Cronin

$11

Amazon

What seems like a silly story about disgruntled farm animals with remarkable communication skills is actually a great intro to concepts like division of labor and workers' rights and unionization. Life lesson: Teamwork makes the dream work.