What's the use of stories that aren't even true? My thesis explores this question by considering the imagination in mid-to-late 20th-century children's fiction and its role in the overall growth and development of children as they transition into adulthood. Through an examination of this cross-cultural interest in the imagination, I argue for a shared authorial belief that a child's imagination is precious and needs to be protected in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Toni and Slade Morrison's The Big Box. Despite the half-century span across which these five books were published (1943-1999), the texts' authors all examine children's imagination through their creative protagonists. Through a textual and visual analysis, I argue that imagination simultaneously symbolizes children's freedom and their resistance to the confines of adulthood. Applying psychoanalytic and developmental psychology theory reveals that these authors investigate the development of children's identities through their young protagonists' imaginative and curious understanding of the Other. So the better question might be, what isn't?