5 Classic Children’s Stories With Great Life Lessons

Children stories

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons by Phil Dowsing Creative

There are many reasons why fictional children’s books are a great resource for learning. First, the cute and funny characters pictured in these books are relatable and keep students’ attention. This helps teachers teach the skill of reading more easily than with the bland textbooks that college professors use. Second, reading a fictional book and extracting the morals and lessons show students that there are lessons to be learned just about everywhere, whether made up stories or in other events. This is a strong skill to learn that will help students in the future.

Here we have compiled a list of 10 of the best classic children’s books that teach important lessons that will prepare students for the future.

1. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Lesson: Believe in yourself and anything is achievable.

This is a timeless story about a long train that is stranded at the bottom of a large mountain and needs an engine that can pull it over the top to the other side. Various engines are asked and all of them refuse except for one. While pulling the train up the mountain, the Little Engine repeats a mantra throughout, which is, “I think I can, I think I can…”. Eventually, the Little Engine does pull the train successfully over the mountain. This teaches students the important lesson that if you think you can and keep pushing yourself, you can do things that you never thought were possible.

2. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Lesson: If you do not like where you are, pick a route and keep going.

Dr. Seuss had a unique and creative way of putting together rhyming words thatsomehow matched perfectly with his wildly imaginative illustrations. While he always had fun with the stories he wrote, he also had hidden gems that are still motivating to read even as an adult to this day. One of the best ones that he wrote was Oh, the Places You’ll Go about a boy who heads out into the world on his own. As the boy goes through his ups and downs, Dr. Seuss’s rhymes offer encouragement and advice on how to handle each situation. The author seamlessly weaves motivational empowerment with a fun and engaging story, summarized in this line:

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

The story teaches us that no matter what happens or where you are, you should always keep moving, because progression is the most important thing. Combining the story and illustration with his classic rhyming style, Dr. Seuss creates stories that children will remember for years to come.

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Lesson: The imagination is a powerful tool.

There are many lessons that students can learn from this book, but one of the biggest ones is that your imagination is a powerful tool for not only escaping from reality, but also for learning life lessons. After being sent to his room for being too wild, the main character Max imagines a whole world filled with big, scary monsters. In his pursuit within his imagination, he arrives at an understanding about himself that he would not have otherwise learned. He learns that monsters are not as scary as they seem, that his wild behavior was not quite acceptable, but that even if his behavior was too wild, he could still come home to a hot supper.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Lesson: Keep going and you will be surprised how you grow.

This is a beautiful short story about a caterpillar that is born, eats a lot, gets sick, and then becomes a beautiful butterfly. In this book, the author illustrates the struggles that the caterpillar goes through, seeking to fill his needs by eating as much as possible. This leads to a stomach ache, which drives the caterpillar to builda cocoon that he lives in for two weeks. The lesson here is that sometimes the most life changing moments come after moments of friction.

5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Lesson: Be generous and consider how your actions may affect someone else.

This classic story written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein is about a growing boy and his relationship with the Giving Tree. It is a wonderfully simple story with depth and many lessons. The story is about the progression of the boy’s relationship with the Giving Tree, a generous being that does everything it can to make the boy happy. In the beginning, the Tree is happy because the boy had fun and played games with the tree. As the boy gets older, his visits to the tree become less and less frequent, which makes the Tree sad. Each time the boy comes back, he is older and older. As he gets older, he becomes more self-centered and focused on his own needs. All the while, the Tree still gives everything it has, from its apples, to its branches, and finally its trunk. And all the while, the Tree remains happy because it has been able to help the boy.

By personifying the tree, giving it feelings of sadness and happiness, the author creates a very complex story about generosity. The reader sympathizes with the tree’s unconditional generosity and love and comes to view the boy as selfish. Many have interpreted this story as a message about human-nature relationship or about the parent-child relationship. These may be true, but the most important lesson from this book is that it is important to be generous, as well as consider how one’s selfish actions may hurt another person.

The Moral of the Story

Children’s stories in any capacity are a great way for children to learn simple life lessons. Using illustrated stories helps children stay interested, learn lessons, and ultimately learn that a great lesson can be learned in any situation whether in real life or from a fantasy story.


  1. Harry

    September 15, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Awesome! I loved reading your post. Thanks a lot for sharing it!

  2. Diana Cruz

    September 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I enjoy reading stories to my first graders that contain a life lesson or moral to the story. It’s interesting at this age how they are able to relate their experiences with a book. I’m glad to see the Little Engine that Could as part of you list. It is my grade level theme book for this year. Thanks.

  3. Steve

    September 23, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. Your content always has a moral which is pretty good.

  4. bhushan

    December 10, 2015 at 9:30 am

    thanks for this relevant post, keep posting