Literary Lessons for Kids

by Shannon Hembree on October 18, 2012

Have you ever wished there was a manual out there for kids on how to behave? You know the kind of manual I’m talking about, right? I’m talking about a how-to guide for kids that lays out the rules of ‘do this’…’don’t do that’…’don’t sass your parents’…and so on and so forth. I was obsessing thinking about this yesterday when it hit me – the information is already out there. It’s in the hidden messages in children’s books. Take a look…

The Gingerbread Man

  • If you disobey authority figures, you will lose your cookies.
  • A sharp mind trumps physical fitness/running speed any day.

Where the Wild Things Are

  • Don’t be a little brat to your mom, because you won’t get fed and then you’ll have nightmares about monsters.

The Cat in the Hat

  • Don’t open the door to strangers. Or strange cats. Ever.
  • If you do wind up with a Thing 1 and Thing 2 in your house (some call them twins…), you’re in trouble.
  • Your mother WILL mind if you do.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

  • Someone is watching. Always. So you better be on your best behavior.

The Giving Tree

  • If you give and give and give in a relationship, you’re going to get taken advantage of…(wait…was that not the lesson?)

Green Eggs and Ham

  • It’s always good to try new things – and you never know – you may like it!
  • Okay, who are we kidding – the real lesson here is not to try everything that people want you to try. Your peers are going to try and get you to experiment with a lot of wacky stuff, and you failed the first test by eating green eggs and green ham.  If ham and eggs are green, they are not fit for human consumption. Just say no…even when pressed over and over.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  • Some days life just sucks. Get over it.

Everyone Poops

  • Everyone poops, and if they don’t, they’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables.


  • Being trapped in a tower is no picnic, but in this economy, free housing isn’t such a bad thing, so you may want to ride it out a little longer.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake

  • If you give a pig a pancake, he’ll keep asking for things. If you teach him how to cook pancakes, you’ll have a personal pancake chef. The latter is definitely better.

Goodnight Moon

  • If the moon is up, you should be asleep. If you’re not asleep, your mom is crying in the other room…and it’s all your fault.

So there you have it – lessons every kid can learn from popular kids’ books. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s reading time here at the zoo…

Shannon Hembree is a SAHM for a first grader and twin toddlers. She actually really likes the stories listed above, but she is even more excited about introducing her kids to A Tale of Two Cities…and of course, to Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other great American novels. You can follow her on Twitter @Shannon1Hembree.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

When I Blink October 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

“If you’re not asleep, your mom is crying in the other room…and it’s all your fault.” — made me snort my coffee.


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 7:37 am

Some days…it’s just true…


Laura H. October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

we should make this a regular humor feature on the blog…seriously. 🙂


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

Ha — there really is SOOOO much out there to work with on it 😉


Sarah K October 18, 2012 at 10:30 am

I love this. I don’t even know which one is my favorite. I love them all. Hilarious.


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thanks 😉


Ginger Kay October 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

My firstborn always swore he would never have let the Cat in the house.

You forgot The Three Little Pigs, where lazy pigs get eaten!


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

Ha ha ha — that’s right! There really are so many examples out there. We might have to go with Laura’s suggestion and do another one!


Mommy Unmuted October 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

“If the moon is up, you should be asleep. If you’re not asleep, your mom is crying in the other room…and it’s all your fault.” Hilarious and true! Love this post. I think you should make it a regular column 🙂 Who needs the new, blatant “sharing” and “listening” books out there. We just need the classics and your interpretation.


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I agree. Sharing and listening are for the birds 😉 Hmmm…now it’s time to decide which children’s books to attack for the next round…


Emily October 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Shannon … that was hysterical!!


Shannon October 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm



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