Top 10 Books that Make You Want to Never Grow Up
VOICE OVER: Lisa Yang
Script written by Savannah Sher
The Catcher in the Rye, Bridge to Terabithia, The Little Prince, Harry Potter, Pippi Longstocking, Polar Express, Where the Wild Things Are are children's books that make us never want to grow up! Whether they be about immortality, coming of age, adventure or made up creatures, these books take our minds to another place.
Top 10 Books that Make You Want to Never Grow Up
Whether you read them as a kid or as a grown up, these stories will have you longing for a simpler time. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Books that Make You Want to Never Grow Up.
For this list, we’re looking at our favorite books, for both young and old, which give us that wistful nostalgia for childhood.
#10: “Pippi Longstocking” (1945)
In this Swedish book series, as well as the movies based on it, Pippi Longstocking not only never ages, but she also perfectly embodies the spirit of youthful irreverence. Even the children she plays with recognize that she doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules or manners that they do. One of her most prominent traits is making a mockery of adults for the silliness of their actions, especially if they’re trying to tell her what to do. She admits that her greatest worry is growing up into an unreasonable adult herself, which is just good advice at any age.
#9: “The Polar Express” (1985)
Chris Van Allsburg
We can all recall that yuletide excitement that came along with waiting for Santa, and this book will make you long for a time when the magic of Christmas was real. In this holiday tale, a young boy takes The Polar Express to the North Pole and is given the gift of a bell by Santa Claus. He finds that while he and his sister can hear it, their parents cannot. In the end, each of the boy's friends eventually become too old to hear the bell, but he still manages to hear it even many years later. And when you thumb through the pages, maybe you can too.
#8: “Bridge to Terabithia” (1977)
This Newbery Medal winning novel will make you long for a time when you could escape the real world using only your imagination. Jesse and Leslie are two children who each struggle with their own troubles but collaborate to create an imaginary land called Terabithia on the other side of a creek near their homes. Although rich in childhood nostalgia, the tale is also tinged with heartbreaking sadness, and the effects of extreme grief on a child's mind. “Bridge to Terabithia” will awaken the child inside you but also remind you that childhood isn't all sunny days and rope swings.
#7: “The Catcher in the Rye” (1951)
While most of the books on our list look at the wonders of childhood, this literary classic and classroom staple focuses on the struggles of adolescence. If you read this book as a teenager, you could probably relate to the alienation, angst and frustrations of Holden Caulfield’s teenage experience as well as his disdain for the adult world. The novel shows how much resentment and bitterness can arise once one reaches a certain age, but simultaneously shows the protagonist’s innocence in contrast with the real adults in the story.
#6: “Matilda” (1988)
Roald Dahl has created many stories that touch on the issue of growing up, but none is arguably more magical than Matilda. The character of Matilda is a precocious reader, completing many works of classic literature at the tender age of four. Matilda is highly intelligent but is mistreated by her borderline abusive parents who don’t value her. She soon learns that she is able to harness telekinetic powers with her mind when she is feeling especially angry or frustrated. Kids often dream of being able to thwart their mean parents or principal with a little bit of magic and this will bring you back to a time when it all seemed possible.
#5: “Where the Wild Things Are” (1963)
One of the most classic picture books of all time is Maurice Sendak’s beloved story “Where the Wild Things Are”. During a moment of anger, the young character Max is mentally transported to a magical land inhabited by fantastical beasts who he eventually establishes rule over. The “wild things” are a metaphor representing his wild side or uncontrollable feelings. This short story book will remind you that there was once a time where your negative thoughts and feelings could easily be banished with a quick bout of imagination, and couldn't we all use that from time to time?
#4: “The Chronicles of Narnia” series (1950-56)
C. S. Lewis
One of the greatest series of children’s literature, “Narnia” addresses many themes, and one of the most prominent is the wonder and innocence of childhood. It’s present from the beginning of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” where Lucy first enters Narnia and her older siblings won’t believe her. One of the most difficult parts of the stories addresses the fact that the characters gradually become too old to return to Narnia, presumably because they’ve aged and no longer believe in it. If you read this when you were young, you probably couldn’t fathom that something so terrible could happen to you, but as an adult...
#3: “The Little Prince” (1943)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This philosophical children’s novella can be enjoyed by readers of any age, since the issues it broaches are timeless and will resonate with everyone. The titular character arrives on Earth after falling from his asteroid home and is surprised by many of the societal practices of our planet. The Little Prince personifies childhood innocence by asking the simple questions that children are known for, and puts into perspective the folly of many of the practices of adults. It even shows some disdain for how the world of grown ups has been designed, which is pretty bold for a children's book.
#2: The “Harry Potter” series (1997-2007)
J. K. Rowling
Maybe you’ve heard of this little known series by a woman called JK Rowling. But, in all seriousness, if you haven’t read this magical fantasy series, just go do it. For many millennials, Harry Potter exemplified their youth, with memories of midnight book releases and the anticipation of a new story prominent in their reminiscences. Rowling has said that the greatest comment she ever heard from a fan was when a girl approached her and said “you are my childhood.” Luckily, the series is totally re-readable and every retelling will bring you back to that initial youthful excitement.
#1: “Peter and Wendy” [aka "Peter Pan"] (1911)
J. M. Barrie
If there’s one character that comes to mind when you think of a perpetual childhood, it has to be JM Barrie's Peter Pan. Revived by Walt Disney in the 1950s and again as a live-action film in the early noughties, this classic story tells of a boy who refuses to grow up. Based on the 1904 play “Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”, the 1911 novel opens with the memorable line: “All children, except one, grow up" and goes on to tell of the somewhat tragic consequences of his deciding to do so. He tries to encourage the Darling children to follow in his footsteps, but they eventually return from Neverland, bound to grow older.