Do your friends bring back porcelain pig souvenirs for you from their family vacations? Is your curio cabinet full of replica pigs of every size and dimension? Did you ever wonder to yourself why the sight of those little pink hairless pigs with squiggly tails just make your heart melt?

The answer might just be because as a child you read and loved the children’s book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Charlotte’s Web is named for the motherly spider, but the book is really about the hapless adventures of Wilbur, a naive, loving, and lovable orphan pig who finds himself in the company of a mélange of strange farm animals. The fact that your adult self loves pigs may be because your first encounter with one on the pages of this classic book was so positive.

Who can resist this adorable smiling piglet?

Who can resist this adorable smiling piglet?

Our likes and dislikes – the ones that seemingly have no origin in practicality are often the result of unconscious associations formed at a very young age.

Consider the fact that so many young girls love horses. It’s possible that some of them – not all – fell in love early on with a horse named Black Beauty. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, is simply the story of a horse and his various owners. But it’s really a tale of abuse, renewal, and unconditional love. Nary an eye was dry after the last pages of Black Beauty were turned. They were bittersweet tears over the happy ending. And chances are, this is a book you have placed on your baby’s bookshelf, hoping one day to share the emotions of it with your children.

Black Beauty tugged at our heartstrings

Black Beauty tugged at our heartstrings

Our tastes might even be affected or reinforced by a book and its subconscious message to children that continues throughout our adult lives.

No one would probably make the argument that we needed to be taught to love chocolate. But Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, certainly reinforces the notion that children love candy, and chocolate in particular. Children have loved candy since time began, but the images of chocolate rivers and lollipop trees so creatively conveyed inside that book’s cover made us yearn forever for the sweetness of youth.

And doesn’t the promise of a “golden ticket” still bring a smile to your lips? A golden ticket represents goodness and promises of great rewards or adventure.

Wanderlust probably begins as a small child. If we didn’t have writers telling us how enticing all those foreign lands are, maybe we wouldn’t have the desire to leave our hometowns as soon as we’re of age.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss, is a fantastical tale of adventurous travel, with promises of excitement and happiness, all expressed in lyrical, rhyming words dancing up and down white pages. Is it any wonder that we long to travel to distant places and see everything with our own faces?

The books of our youth are carried with us throughout our lives, though we may not remember why. We sit at our child’s bed, reading these same books. Whether short or tall, or big or small, the child awakes inside us all.

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who writes about children and baby products, including strollers, diaper bags, and Sippy cups.