Children’s books often stay with us long after we have read them. There is always a quote that rattles around in our brains for years afterwards, or a moment that we just can’t wait to read aloud to our kids. Sometimes it is the quiet turn of phrase, other times it is the call to action, or even just the stick-in-your-brain rhymes, but kids’ books have staying power. Here are a few quotes that have a life far beyond their pages, ones that will stick with us for years.
“Always.” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling)
If you haven’t read the books, or seen the movies, then I don’t want to spoil this too much, since it is pretty much amazing. Let’s just say it is one of the most unexpected, powerful, jaw-dropping declarations of love in the entire series. Just when you think you understand it all, you are swept away in memory, regret, and love. This simple sentence — it is a single word, really — has so much power to many Potter fans that it has become a popular tattoo, and was a rally cry after Alan Rickman, the fan favorite who portrayed Snape in the movies, passed away. (Ages 9–12)
“You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” (Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll)
Like J.K. Rowling does with Dumbledore, we find this line from Lewis Carroll calling for readers to be themselves, no matter how crazy, weird, or wonderful. These differences make us unique, make us who we are, and we should embrace that. One of the beautiful things about children’s literature is that authors seem to say the most challenging things in the most simple way. Embrace your madness. (Ages 8–12)
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss)
On Earth Day every year I read The Lorax with my daughter. She doesn’t get the message yet, but she thinks it is hilarious to say “brown barbaloots in their barbaloot suits,” and of course the art is lovely. The message, though, is one we see repeated over and over again, in Facebook posts, social media gifs, and plastered all over Pinterest: do your part to protect the planet. Dr. Seuss can turn silly into poignant like no one else, and this quote is just one of his many moments of magic. (Ages 6–9)
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling)
It feels like a cheat, including two Harry Potter quotes, but of seven books how could anyone love just one line? In a line that is tantamount to Rowling’s love letter to reading, I think it should remind everyone to appreciate their imaginations. Reading, pretending, loving, so many of these things originate and live in our brains, but they can still grip our hearts and direct our actions. Dumbledore’s last lesson to us, as it was to Harry, is to value what we imagine and we believe. That is a pretty strong statement for a series of books meant for children. (Ages 9–12)
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.” (The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams)
The Velveteen Rabbit always hits me right in the feels, without question. When you are struggling with life’s challenges, questioning what you are doing, or trying to explain to kids how important family and love is, just grab Willaims’ classic. Nothing says more about the importance of investing your time, and finding who you are, with those that love you. Go hug someone you love, right now, and just see how real and wonderful that makes you feel. I’ll wait. (Ages 3–7)
”Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere.” (Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd)
This line, when whispered at bedtime, is magic. For such a small, simple, picture book, it has an amazing power. We have all had this book read to us, and we have all read it to our children, and that in and of itself is astounding. But when you look at the meaning of that quote, the enormity of what it is saying, especially when you are reading it to someone every small…wow. The world is huge, the universe is so much more than us, but for right now everyone is going to bed, and it is ok. (Ages 0–2)
“I guess it simply goes to show that stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry? Goodness, NO! We keep on singing.” (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by James Dean)
This musical series is full of great lines, all of them positive and innocent, but there is just something special about Pete and his buttons. It is so easy to get caught up in our belongings, be it a phone or a special stuffed animal, but Pete is right, as always. Let’s not get hung up on our possessions and instead enjoy life, enjoy our surroundings, or, like Pete, enjoy some sun and surf! (Ages 4–7)
What are your favorite quotes to live by from children’s books?
Originally published at www.barnesandnoble.com on March 7, 2016.
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