Picture Books of the Past: Harold and the Purple Crayon

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Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is undoubtedly one of the most loved and respected children’s books from the past. Written in 1955, this book continues to be a simple yet powerful story of a young boy who has the creativity and imagination that readers, both young and old, can appreciate. Harold is a 4 year old boy who decides to go on a “moonlight” adventure one night, but after discovering that the moon is missing, he has to create his own adventures with his large purple crayon. For example, Harold draws himself a path to a forest, ocean and other exciting places, marking his journey with landmarks and assistance to keep him safe. This crayon allows him to continue on a long adventure until eventually he decides that it is time for bed and draws himself both his house and his bed.


While the story is a simple concept with very basic illustrations, it is clear that message readers can take away from the book is far more complex than Harold himself could even understand. Crockett Johnson encourages readers to create their own future and draw their destiny much like Harold did, with their own purple crayons. This is a message we can all appreciate and take to heart, even 61 years after it’s original creation.


We recommend reading this book to preschool-age children and encourage independent reading for those in middle elementary. Perfect especially served as a nighttime tale, this book provides as a perfect adventure that leads to a dream-filled night’s rest. In an interactive format, this book can operate as a great starter for an art project or personal story for which individuals can determine where their own purple crayon–or pen, or marker—will take them! We enjoy this book very much and we hope you do too!


Happy Reading!

Katie & Trevor

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