Sometimes, to surprise them, I say: tracing and how-to draw books!
OK, not exactly. I was drawing all the time as a youngster. Between the ages of 5 and 10 though, I do have to give a lot of credit to tracing my favorite children's illustrations and a few choice how-to books. Now don't call me a copycat yet. Within that there was also a lot of pure creative exploration, but tracing professional work definitely gave me a tactile sense of what this line and that shape does on a page.
One of my favorites to learn from was Ed Emberley. It seems so elementary now, but there's still something I like about it. The pages covered with multiple steps, in bright (now retro) colors. The simple shapes with tiny details of dot eyes or whiskers or scales. The bold lettering. I think that aesthetic is in my etsy work and personal artwork still.
*The pictures above come from a recent exhibition in L.A. called "Ed Emberley and Friends" curated by Caleb Neelon, at the Scion Installaion Gallery.