3 Reasons Creatives Should Read More Children’s Books

Written by
Katie Cox
Katie Cox
multiple authors
Updated on
June 7, 2024 5:43 PM
Children's stories remind us of the timeless and transcendent aspects of human experience and revisiting them can help us navigate the complexities of adult life and work with clarity, empathy, and creativity.

If you had the privilege of growing up with books, your childhood might be intertwined with tales of wizards, wardrobes, and secret gardens. As children, the books we read shape our understanding of the world, but as adults, we can often lose the skills and perspectives these stories offer. 

Poet W.H. Auden once said, "There are no good books which are only for children," and I agree. As creative professionals, here are three reasons why we should read more children’s books.

An illustration from Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari

1. Clarity and Simplicity in Complex Emotions

Children's books simplify complex emotions and experiences, helping readers to understand and express their feelings with accessible language and imagery. A timeless example is in Corduroy—where, for much of the book, a stuffed bear with a missing button fears he won't be chosen due to his flaws. By the end, he learns that changing his appearance will not make him more accepted or loved, and he's adopted despite his shortcomings.

In childhood, these lessons are invaluable as we're developing our identities and learning how to relate to the world. But as adults, we still navigate relationships, face rejection, and deal with insecurities. Reading children's stories, with their simplicity and clarity, can remind us of the fundamental human experiences we all face and offer fresh perspectives to the complexities of adult life.

An Illustration from Corduroy by Don Freeman
An illustration from Grief is an Elephant by Tamara Ellis Smith

2. Fostering Empathy

Children's books are often our first encounter with perspectives different from our own. They present stories of diverse characters, whether animals, people from different cultures, or fantastical beings. In one example, I'll Be the Moon by Philip D. Cortez tells the story of a migrant child in awe of the stars in her new country, distilling complex societal narratives into simple, relatable emotions.

As adults, reading these perspectives can expand our understanding and foster connections with others. Engaging with diverse viewpoints, even fictional ones, enhances our capacity to empathize with and understand real-life differences. 

An illustration from I'll Be the Moon by Philip D. Cortez

3. Nourishing Imagination

Imagination is not just a luxury of childhood; it's a skill that needs regular exercise in order to not atrophy. Katherine Rundell, in her book Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise, explains that children's fiction helps us rediscover the sense of wonder we may have lost. It takes us back to a time when new discoveries were daily occurrences and the world felt “colossal.”

For creative professionals, maintaining a well-nourished imagination is crucial. It enables us to solve complex problems and find innovative solutions. Reading whimsical stories that defy adult realities recharges our creative minds and encourages us to dream and imagine new possibilities.

The Queen in the Cave | Júlia Sardà
An illustration from The Queen in the Cave by Júlia Sardà

Conclusion

Children's books offer adults a fresh perspective on complex problems, foster empathy through unique viewpoints, and enrich our inner lives by nurturing our imagination. These stories remind us of the timeless and transcendent aspects of human experience and revisiting them can help us navigate the complexities of adult life and work with clarity, empathy, and creativity.

“Children’s novels… spoke and still speak of hope. They say: look, this is what bravery looks like. This is what generosity looks like. They tell me, through the medium of wizards, lions and talking spiders, that this world we live in is a world of people who tell jokes and work and endure. Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, wit will matter, empathy will matter, love will matter.”

- Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

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