Five Children's Books for College Students
- Student Tips
If you're in university or thinking about starting a degree, there is likely a staggering amount of reading in your future. Whether you're studying literature or mathematics, college courses require a lot of time with your nose in a book, and degree-level reading can be daunting. It can be easy to get lost in technical terms, convoluted subjects, and theoretical musings, but before you give up and declare a major in underwater basket weaving instead try approaching your tough subjects from a different angle – children's books!
Picture books and easy-readers may be aimed at primary-school reading levels, but that doesn't mean their subject matter is simple. Children's books are often full of complicated concepts boiled down into their simplest components. So, whether you're studying early childhood education, business communication, finance or economics, or just need a break from that enormous stack of technical manuals, here's a list of children's books that can help college students succeed.
1. For Philosophy students, try Green Eggs and Purple Crayons
Philosophy students may have already had a lesson or two from the Simpsons, but did you know that many children's books offer condensed and accessible interpretations of complex philosophical problems. Take Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, for example. On its surface, it's a charming and monochromatic story about a little boy using his imagination. But the book is really an exploration of perceptions of reality. And for students studying aesthetics, Dr. Suess's iconic Green Eggs and Ham offers a rhyming critique of theories surrounding judgment and reason.
2. Finance Students can take a lesson from Brother & Sister Bear
College students are often stereotyped as bad with money, but whether you need to budget your student loan or are majoring in accounting, learning the basics of financial planning doesn't need to be all spreadsheets and actuary tables. Most American students will already be familiar with the antics of the Berenstain Bear family, and the collection of instructive fables includes an engaging look at personal financial management - The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Follow Brother and Sister Bear as they squander their economic windfalls, learn the value of savings and entrepreneurship, and come to understand that good economy means a balance between saving and spending.
3. Geometry Basics with Inchworms
Sometimes it's good to review the foundational aspects of a study. Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni is a simple story about a little inchworm that uses his measurement skills to stave off a hungry robin. The tale concludes with an existential conundrum that will get mathematics students thinking about alternative applications of traditional methodologies.
4. Pete the Cat teaches social literacy
There's one thing that college textbooks won't teach you – social competence. Sure, your psychology classes might discuss theories of human interactions, but that will be little solace when dealing with a passive-aggressive roommate, making new friends, or dealing with the stress of exam week. Enter James Dean's Pete the Cat. Pete the Cat is the hero of a series of children's books aimed at discussing emotions, character, and coping mechanisms. Try Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses when you need a new perspective. There's even a mesmerizing website with animated Pete the Cat mini-stories for when you need some mindless stress relief.
5. Tongue-twisters for Theater Students
Sometimes children's books are just fun, but that doesn't mean they don't have functionality. Children's books often feature rhyming schemes, alliteration, and other language tools that can be useful for students of all subjects. But for theater students, vocal musicians, and students practicing to give speeches, these children's books are essential tools for voice training, pronunciation, and articulation. Try The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat by Nurit Karlin to get your tongue moving before a big show or a class presentation.
And for everyone...
Everyone knows the classic tale of Humpty Dumpty; that he sat on a wall and had a great fall. But not many have stopped to consider what happened to him afterward. Dan Santat's After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), an NPR and Chicago Public Library 'Best Book of 2017', is an inspiring tale about just this -- what followed Humpty's fall. It's important reading for all students because life, especially student life, is full of ups and downs (and in this tale, quite literally).
This article was updated on 8 March 2019.
Elizabeth Koprowski is an American writer and travel historian. She has worked in the higher education system with international students both in Europe and in the USA.