Little Kids’ Book Club #19:”Harold and the Purple Crayon”

Harold and The Purple Crayon

Although there are no obvious life lessons in read aloud picture book, "Harold and the Purple Crayon", the story poses many philosophical questions for both children and adults.

Choose from our list of brain building Read and Explore talking points and teach your children how to read in between the (purple) lines.

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The Story

Harold has a magic purple crayon that enables him to draw whatever he needs or wants. The adventure begins when he follows a self-made moonlit path. He draws an apple tree along the way, travels on a sailboat and hot air balloon, and then heads home for bed, where he literally draws up the covers. With a purple crayon in hand, Harold creates his own reality; an interesting concept to explore with people of all ages.

Find "Harold and the Purple Crayon" in your school or library or order onlne here!

Read and Explore

Ask your child:

  • If you had a magic crayon, what color would it be? (open ended)                               
  • What two colors combined together make purple? (blue and red)
red and blue make purple
  • Why do you think Harold drew a picture of the moon instead of a light? (open ended)                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Why do you think Harold drew a picture of a frightening dragon under the apple tree? Would you draw something that scares you? (open ended)                                                                                                                                  
  • Harold was very clever, drawing a purple sailboat to climb onto from out of the water. Do you think he planned the story in advance, or is he making things up as he goes along? (open ended)                                                                                                            
  • Why do you think Harold drew 9 kinds of pie for a picnic? (open ended)                                                                                                                            
  • Looking down from the top of the mountain, Harold slipped and fell “into thin air.” Why…and what is thin air? (Harold had yet to draw the other side of the mountain so there was nothing to walk down. To say he fell into thin air is an expression meaning to disappear. This is a make believe story so he really never disappears.)                                                                                                                      
  • Harold “kept his wits and purple crayon” and drew a floating balloon to grab onto after falling. What does “kept his wits” mean? (Keeping your wits means thinking clearly and quickly. Help your child come up with personal examples)                                                                                                                                      
  • Harold finally goes home and draws his bedroom window around the moon. How could this be? Has the moon been following him everywhere? (The moon is very far away. From a distance the moon looks like it hasn’t moved much, even if Harold did. Stand next to your child and take one big step to the side. Do the same thing from 20 feet away to illustrate how from a distance it doesn’t look like you moved very far. Everything in life is relative.)                                                                                                                                                           
  • What are different ways to use the word “draw”? (Draw a picture. Draw the covers or draw the curtains. Draw a bath. Draw from experience. Draw the line.)                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Roll out paper on the floor and encourage your child to draw his own adventure in chronological order using a favorite color.

Order paper rolls here.

Fun Facts:

  • Author and illustrator Crockett Johnson, used his nickname Crockett as a pen name. He believed it would be easier to pronounce than his birth name, David Johnson Leisk.                                                                                                                   
  • In addition to writing and illustrating his own books, Crockett Johnson also collaborated on 4 books with his wife Ruth Krauss, created the 1940s comic strip "Barnaby" and made over 100 contemporary paintings based on mathematics and geometry.
"Apollonius" by Crockett Johnson
"Apollonius" by Crockett Johnson
  • The sailboat in "Harold and the Purple Crayon" was inspired by Johnson’s childhood days, sailing in the boat his father built.                                                                                                                     
  • "Harold and the purple Crayon" was originally published over 60 years ago in English and has since been published in many other languages.
Harold and The Purple Crayon was published in Chinese.
  • The Iris flowers in Vincent van Gogh's 1888 painting, “Field with Irises near Arles”, were originally purple. The red colored paint van Gogh mixed with blue, has faded over time explaining why the flowers are no longer purple. Now they are just blue. Remember, red and blue together make purple.
Vincent Van Gogh painting
  • In ancient times the color purple was very costly and difficult to make. 9000 mollusks from the Mediterranean Sea were needed to produce 1 gram of purple dye. Only royalty and those with power and wealth wore purple.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon in 1969, 14 years after "Harold and the Purple Crayon" was published.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon in 1969.
  • The moon doesn’t actually glow. Instead, the light coming off the moon is a reflection from the sun.                                                                                                               
  • The moon is over 238,000 miles away from the earth and takes 27 days to travel around the earth.


Reading aloud to children daily, has long term positive affects on their academic development, especially when you explore beyond the straight forward narrative.

Happy reading!


Julie E. Janson & Caryl Frankenberger, Ed. M.


If your child had trouble mastering the ABCs in kindergarten and continues to struggle with reading in first or second grade, he/she could be the 1 in 5 with Dyslexia. For a list of Early RED FLAGS pointing to a reading disability, click here.