Children’s books have always taught lessons, from the terrifying cautionary tales in Heinrich Hoffmann’s Der Struwwelpeter (1845) to Brendan Wenzel’s Caldecott Honor–winning They All Saw a Cat (2016), which invites children to ponder perspective. But what can kid lit teach grown-ups? Plenty, as a handful of new picture books demonstrate. These tales will resonate with young readers, but they’ll also give adults a stronger understanding of how children perceive the world.

The little ones in Liana Finck’s You Broke It! (Rise x Penguin Workshop, Jan. 23) are a naughty bunch…or are they? A piglet is scolded by its parent for wallowing in the mud; a rain cloud tells its child to “Stop crying!” Finally, a forlorn octopus, chastised for not keeping its hands to itself, speaks for all the creatures—and youngsters the world over—when it responds, “I am just being me.” New Yorker cartoonist Finck’s slyly humorous, minimalist line drawings pair well with her brief text for a witty yet warm reminder that what appears to be misbehavior is often just kids doing what comes naturally.

Eyes That Weave the World’s Wonders, by Joanna Ho with Liz Kleinrock, illustrated by Dung Ho (Harper/HarperCollins, Jan. 23), centers on an Asian child adopted into a white family. Noticing that “no one in my family has eyes like mine,” the child grapples with questions of identity. The family’s love for the protagonist is palpable, but, as Kleinrock notes, adoption—especially transracial adoption—can evoke complicated emotions. Adults who still have a “colorblind” mentality will find this work illuminating.

In Lauren Castillo’s Nana in the Country (Clarion/HarperCollins, Feb. 20), the grandmother from the Caldecott Honor–winning book Nana in the City (2014) visits her grandchild. The child is eager to show Nana the ins and outs of farm life, but Nana doesn’t need much guidance; she seems perfectly at home. The little one goes to bed feeling deflated, but when a sheep gets lost in a storm that night, the child proudly takes charge. Castillo’s illustrations exude tenderness, while her narrative conveys an important but oft-overlooked childhood need: to be seen as an authority, at least sometimes.

Steve Asbell’s Flap Your Hands: A Celebration of Stimming (Lee & Low Books, March 26) is an ode to self-stimulating behavior. Upbeat verse invites kids to cope with overwhelming feelings by kicking their feet or waving their wrists, while mesmerizing art pulses with energy. Asbell notes that while adults often dissuade children from stimming, it’s a crucial part of many autistic people’s identities—something that should be actively celebrated rather than merely tolerated.

While many adults preach body positivity, some are still critical of their own bodies—messages that children then internalize. The title character in Isabel Quintero’s Mamá’s Panza (Kokila, March 26), however, exudes self-love. She smiles as her little one drums on her panza, or belly, and lets the child pretend it’s a mountain. Mamá’s ample belly is lovingly depicted in Iliana Galvez’s gracefully composed images, and her powerful words will hopefully encourage readers of all ages to embrace their own bodies: “My panza kept you alive and keeps me alive as well. How could I not love it?”

Mahnaz Dar is a young readers’ editor.