Whether you realize it or not, most of what you need to know to succeed as a premed you learned as a youngster, but may have forgotten. Here are 6 children’s books that will teach you as much as much as any best-selling self-help or motivational books about what it takes to succeed as a premed…and in college. And, unlike the textbooks that you’ve probably been burying your head in, they have fun pictures and are only a few pages.

The Little Engine That Could
On persistence, hard work, and the value of thinking positive


What the story is about: In the tale, a long train must be pulled over a high mountain. Larger engines, are asked to pull the train; for various reasons they refuse. The request is sent to a small engine, who agrees to try. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: I-think-I-can”.

Lessons for premeds: Getting into medical school is no walk in the park. From undertaking rigorous course loads to studying hours for the MCAT, the journey to becoming a doctor will require you to remain persistent and optimistic. Moreover, in the face of adversity, it is very important that you believe in yourself, your abilities, and your dream to become a doctor enough to make it through any tough and trying times you may encounter along as a pre-med.

Meaningful quote: “Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the little blue engine. ‘I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can…Up, up, up. Faster and faster and faster and faster the little engine climbed until they reached the top of the mountain.”

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

On just having one of those days


What the story is about: From the moment he wakes up Alexander begins a day that seems to get worse by the minute. From finding gum stuck in his hair to finding himself without dessert at lunch, Alexander’s day continues to go downhill. The book ends with his mom assuring him that everybody has bad days, even people who live in Australia.Lessons for premeds: Everybody has bad days – and as a premed, you’re sure to have your fair share of bad days too! Whether it’s a day when you find out you didn’t do so well on an exam or find yourself struggling with an assignment, it is important to not let yourself get discouraged. Learn from these days and find something about them that you can take away to make yourself better. Control your thoughts and continue to push on and upward toward your goal of becoming a doctor.Meaningful quote: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…some days are like that…even in Australia.”

Oh the Places You’ll Go

On self-determination and leadership


What the story is about: A young boy, referred to simply as “you” travel to several places, eventually encountering a place simply called “The Waiting Place”, which is addressed as being a place where everyone is always waiting for something to happen. As he continues to explore, spurred on by the thoughts of places he will visit and things he will discover, the book cheerfully concludes with an open end.Lessons for premeds: The motivational message that runs throughout this book is enough to reassure any premed (or any college student for that matter) that they can succeed in becoming a doctor. The subconscious mind is a power thing and what you tell yourself is more important than you may realize. In a way that almost makes it seem like nothing is impossible the book ask the reader “Will you succeed?” and answers with “Yes, you will indeed. (98 and 3/4% guaranteed.)”Meaningful quote: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

On creating your own life path


What the story is about: Harold, a curious 4-year old boy, goes for a walk with his purple crayon and creates a world of his own by simply drawing it. Harold wants to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon, so he draws one. He has nowhere to walk, so he draws a path. He has many adventures looking for his room, he draws his own house and bed and starts going to sleep.

Lessons for premeds: Think about what you want for your future and go after it. As the saying goes “whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve” and that is the mindset that you should always have regardless of what others may say or adversities you may face.

Meaningful quote: “One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight…there wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight…fortunately, he had brought his purple crayon…so he drew a moon.”

Leo the Late Bloomer

On growing and learning at your own pace and in your own time


What the story is about: This is a story of a little tiger name Leo who is behind his friends in reading, writing, drawing, eating neatly and speaking. When Leo’s father becomes concerned, Leo’s mother explains that Leo is simply a late bloomer. Later in his own good time, Leo “blooms” pleasing his patients parents and of course, himself.Lessons for premeds: The takeaway message from this story is not so much about being a late bloomer, but being your own person as a premed. In what can sometimes be a competitive world among premeds, it may take a lot for you to do what works best for you. How another student may study may not be the best way for you to learn. Or when another student does well on an exam that you may have struggled with, it is important to understand that while that student may excel in one area, you may do better in another area that they fall short. The point is, don’t compare yourself and your progress to others. Find what works for you and use it the best way you know how to become the best medical school candidate possible.Meaningful quote: “He couldn’t read…he couldn’t write…he couldn’t draw…he was a sloppy eater…are you sure Leo is a bloomer?…Patience.”

The Carrot Seed

On remaining optimistic despite what others may say


What the story is about: The book opens with the words: “A little boy planted a carrot seed. His mother said, ‘I’m afraid it won’t come up.” Despite the skepticism of his parents and, particularly, his older brother, he persists and “pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water.” The book concludes simply “And then, one day, a carrot came up just as the little boy had known it would.” However, the singular carrot is so large that it fills a wheelbarrow.Lessons for premeds: Some premeds may find themselves in the presence of those who may discourage them from pursuing their dream of becoming a doctor. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, you must continue to believe in yourself despite what others may think or say. As the little boy does in this book, plant your seed, water it, and watch it grow. While you may encounter people in your life who will bring negativity, believe that you are indeed capable of getting into medical school. In short, you’ll be able to show them better than you can tell them.Meaningful quote: “And then, on day, a carrot came up just as the little boy had known it would.”