More than half (54%) of Americans say they transport themselves back to their childhoods by reading the books they loved as kids—including 62% of people over 77 years old.
A new survey asked 2,000 U.S. adults about their favorite picture books in childhood and found that Stan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears books came out on top with 31%.
Other popular picks included The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (30%), The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (30%), and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (29%).
In the realm of chapter books, respondents cited Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (24%), Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (23%), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (22%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ThriftBooks, the survey also found that half (50%) still claim to remember every line from their favorite children’s book, with millennials the most likely to say so (56%).
When asked which kid’s books they’ve picked up again in adulthood, people named Beauty and the Beast, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, among others.
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Relatable characters that stuck with readers included Encyclopedia Brown, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Frodo Baggins, Nancy Drew, and Pippi Longstocking.
“Adventurous” (52%) and “kind” (50%) were the book character traits people related to most.
Men were more likely than women to relate to generous characters (42% vs. 32%). Meanwhile, millennials were much more likely than Gen X to relate to characters who are brave (52% vs. 38%), generous (45% vs. 29%), and loyal (47% vs. 33%).
What did people love most about reading books as a child? Imagining the fictional characters and worlds were real (42%), getting lost in the story (35%), and looking at the artwork (35%).
Books have also taught many a valuable life lesson. According to respondents, the most important of these were to “always be friendly,” that “every living thing has feelings,” to “laugh at your mistakes,” and “to be true to yourself and not be swayed by social pressure.”
More than seven in 10 (73%) said their parents read to them each night when they were kids, with the average respondent listening to five books a night.
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And according to 69%, reading books as a child helped them learn to appreciate literature more in adulthood.
“Books clearly play an important role during the childhood years and have a lasting effect into adulthood.”
BEST MOMS IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – 33%
Marmee from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 29%
Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling – 29%
Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White – 29%
Dr. Kate Murry from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – 28%
Raksha from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – 28%
Mrs. Quimby from the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary – 28%
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