Harold and the Purple Crayon Book Poster Image

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Imagination reigns in timeless classic about drawing boy.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Shows how much fun you can have with just one crayon (hopefully used only on the appropriate paper!) and your imagination.

Positive messages

Make your own fun buy using your imagination. Take care when you're off on your own not get lost, and to go to bed when you're tired. 

Positive role models

Harold is imaginative, polite, self-sufficient, and cautious, keeps an eye on where he's going, takes measures to avoid getting lost, asks a policeman for directions when he's trying to get home, and goes to bed when he's tired. 

Violence & scariness

Harold gets scared by a dragon that chases him briefly. He also falls off a mountain he's drawn, but quickly draws a hot air balloon to rescue himself.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Harold and the Purple Crayon is a classic children's book first published in 1955 that features a calm, upbeat but mostly silent little boy who creates his surroundings with his ever-present purple crayon. He makes up his own fun, and even gets scared by some of his drawings: He's chased by a dragon he draws, he falls of a mountain he draws, he has to draw a boat to save himself from drowning in the sea he accidentally draws. Successive generations have enjoyed Harold's inventive adventures. Harold and the Purple Crayon is a wonderful celebration of imagination and independent play that also has been adapted for an animated HBO Family TV series and is available as an app. The 60th anniversary edition, released in October 2015, has a larger (6 1/4 by 7 3/4) size.

What's the story?

Harold is a little boy who always has his purple crayon with him. He decides to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there's no moon, so he draws a crescent one, and draws a straight path to walk on so he won't get lost. The moon goes with him as he walks. He draws an apple tree, and a dragon to guard it, and so on, creating settings, situations (a picnic full of pies), and transportation (a boat, a hot air balloon) as the need or whim arises. He draws windows, hoping to find his own window. Then he finally remembers his own window \"is always right around the moon.\" So he draws a window around the moon above him, then draws his bed, hops in, draws up the covers, drops the crayon and drops off to sleep.

Is it any good?


HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON is a timeless story that has been a hit with young readers since it was first published in 1955. It's simple enough to delight a toddler and clever enough for parents to enjoy as a whimsical celebration of endless, spontaneous creativity. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Harold and the Purple Crayon has been loved by kids for generations. What makes it so appealing? 

  • Can you imagine drawing yourself out of a dangerous situation? What would you draw if a dragon were chasing you? 

  • If you've seen the app version of Harold and the Purple Crayon, how do you think it compares with the book? Which do you like better? 

Book details

Author:Crockett Johnson
Illustrator:Crocket Johnson
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Great boy role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:January 1, 1955
Number of pages:64
Available on:Paperback, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, App

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Parent of a 6 year old Written bySheSpeeds April 23, 2013

Classic favorite of mine.

I love imagination it offers with it's simple images and creative adventures. I recall as a child getting a roll of paper and making my own "Harold" adventures. My kids like to list of nine of their favorite kinds of pie to contribute to the story line.
Teen, 13 years old Written byhaley._.bee January 12, 2017
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models