First Lines: Children’s Books


I’m a sucker for firsts: first lines, first paragraphs, first pages.

I love them.

What do you think? The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world? As a reader (and a writer) how important are “firsts” to you?

They are essential for me, as both reader and writer. Also, I adore collecting them. They take up less space than Hummels and need no dusting.

There are so many. Far too many to post on a blog but I am going to share some favorites. Because. You are worth it. And this was such great fun to put together.

This is my children’s book post, as the title clearly states, but please, don’t turn your nose up at these. There will be no nose turning allowed. Children’s books aren’t just for children anymore. Well, with The Hobbit and Chronicles of Narnia, were they ever really just for kids?

Without further fuss delay ado…


“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 


“I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.

How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I’m beginning to suspect he’s up to something. What’s worse, I think he suspects I’m up to something. Which I usually am.”

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers 


“The woman smiled so politely that he felt offended.”

Pay It Forward (Young Readers Edition) by Catherine Ryan Hyde 


“The first thing many people do after getting out of bed is put on a pair of slippers. The first thing Pearl Petal did on that Friday morning was slip her feet into a pair of leprechaun shoes.”

The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 4 The Order of the Unicorn by Suzanne Selfors 

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


“There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg in question is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you’re far more likely to get a dragon than a chicken.”

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George


“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.”

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


“There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toastios, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate.”

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman 


“If you believe that death is about to spring upon you at any moment, you won’t spend much time watching television.”

The Books of Elsewhere: Book 3 The Second Spy by Jacqueline West

“Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.”

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book 1 Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede 


“The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.”

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan


“It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon.”

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George


First Lines_childrens books


Next up:

First Lines: MG & YA (*ahem* No nose turning.)

Do you have any favorite first lines from children’s books? Place some in the comments. I’d love to read them.


33 thoughts on “First Lines: Children’s Books

  1. Loved this. Was fascinated to find lots of contradictions/opposites in the first half of the first lines – I wonder what that means or what draws the writers to do that. Like the one that starts… If you expect something or other then… And actually it’s the opposite. Hmm. Will ponder that – seems to be a theme tho.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hadn’t noticed that. Trying to decide which quotes to use, how to arrange them on here, and getting all the links working, I hadn’t paid much attention to any possible theme. I need to re-read. Which I am only happy to do. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this, Sarah! These first lines, words, etc are very important to me too. I’ve fallen both madly in and quickly out of love with so many books bc of first impressions.

    You mentioned Narnia. Mine is from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

    “ONCE there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.”

    My favorite part of the story always was that Santa Claus gives them their weapons! ♡

    Liked by 3 people

    • Pfft! As if you need to tell me where that quote came from. I was this close to including it in the post. It is quite boring of me but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is my favorite story of all the Narnia books.

      Oh, Santa giving out his weapons. *wipes tear* Such a glorious scene.

      I don’t judge a book by its cover but I have been known to judge a book by its first lines. Not saying that’s fair, just saying. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, your nose is properly placed — in the opening of books! I’m so eclectic with what I read, I don’t turn my nose up at much. I like good writing and that is what you’ve posted. My all-time favorite is from “The Hobbit.” And I knew from that opening line, I’d be hooked on Harry Potter after all three children devoured “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in a week. Good writing. Good storytelling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 😀 Yes, my nose is usually in a book. I’m pretty eclectic, too. Oh, The Hobbit’s first line. It’s so simple. So classic. And Harry Potter? Do not get me started as I fear I shall neva stop. I could write a whole post (possibly several posts) just on that series.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sarah this was the best! I might have to do a version with my own kids’ books (more like really young children’s books lol). My faves of your list are Harry Potter (of course!) and The Hobbit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! There are some great board books out there. 🙂 That would be cute. Ah, The Hobbit. And Harry Potter. Yes. I had to refrain from posting all seven but these are great first lines, not favorite books. That is another post…


  5. Eclectic? Yes. But I notice there’s a good dash of fantasy in there! And I was expecting picture books! But these I love too. I read the Phantom Tollbooth years ago, and loved it. It’s a brilliant book.
    I haven’t memorised any first lines as such, but I agree they must be important. Otherwise, why would we keep reading?
    I love the opening to Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. I think I’ll have to read that one.
    Reading these first lines was immensely pleasurable. I look forward to your next installment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there is a dash of fantasy here. But there are also some fantasies. 😉 Oh, now a picture book First Lines would be wonderful. There are some gorgeous, beautifully written picture books out there. Yes, the Phantom Tollbooth — one of my favorites. It is brilliant. Thank you!

      Please do read Theodosia. I think you would love it! The story, the characters, the writing…all fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are funny! I shall look forward to your picture book opening lines then. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
        I’ll have to put Theodosia on the list. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you so much for this Sarah, I so enjoyed reading these ‘firsts’ and it just goes to show how important it is to grab the reader immediately, not half way down the page. Or a Hobbit hole, as the case may be. Oh I miss children’s books. I think I need to get reading a few again. It’s not as if I haven’t got a loft full of them or anything… 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes! The first line is so important, at least in my opinion. When I critique writing, it’s one of the things I sit and look at. Even when I’m not critiquing, I’ll sit and either marvel or wrinkle my nose at a first line.

    You gave a great list. I found myself smiling along with many of them. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • That first line… That first page… It is so important to me. I’ve read a lot of writing advice that agrees but also a lot that says openings aren’t all that important. So there you go. It’s individual but, for me, they either grab me and make me want to keep reading or don’t and the book gets put back. Not to say a great first line makes a great book or that a boring first line won’t turn into a fantastic book, just that first impressions are key.


  8. Loved these, and you’re absolutely right, they’re not just for children. Interestingly, I thought The Hobbit was the least engaging (although it might have been back in the days when we hadn’t heard of them) and that’s the only one of your list I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s funny. I was just talking to my husband about this last night. That I should do a Then vs Now post of First Lines. How classic literature openings are so different from contemporary ones. Some of my favorite books from childhood have first lines that are kind of boring.


  9. first impressions, first lines are like that first kiss that you never forget…. The books I love best I fell in love with at the first line.
    and nope no nose turning, am a child at heart but you are absolutely right they call them children’s books but some of the literary genius hidden is for a more appreciative audience.
    thank you for sharing ♥♥ ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great analogy. Yes, some of the books I love best I fell in love with at the fist line (or page…). Right? Why do people turn their noses up at brilliant writing and gorgeous stories because the books weren’t written specifically for their age group? I do not pretend to understand this. We will just be the appreciative audience for that hidden literary genius. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • absolutely that’s where the magic happens… first page.
        (but when I start a book even if I dont like it I stick it through to its gory conclusion and then say gosh that was a terrible read then I find someone a victim to read it so that when they are done we can both agree that its a book to be read once and never again)

        here here will stay forever young in the Never Never Land of “childish” books. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! Finding a victim for a terrible book… You are truly evil. 👿

        I do stick with books, too, after it has a boring first line/paragraph/page. Sometimes, I even like the book. Other times, eh… Still, I do love first lines. Here’s to staying Forever Young.


  10. I adored this post, Sarah. In fact, I’m leaving my work now (don’t tell my editor) to go hunt down the stack of those books and start rereading them one by one. They’re all upstairs in my kids’ library.
    Looks like it’s going to be an all-nighter, and it’s all your fault.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will gladly take the blame for that one. 🙂 Awesome. I love rereading old favorites. I’m so nostalgic, it’s almost pathetic. Also, equally pathetic is the fact that I haven’t pulled an all-nighter in years but, if I did, it would be for books.


  11. Pingback: First Lines: Picture Books | Lemon Shark

  12. I have to admit I’m drawn to those kinda snarky, sarcastic first lines in books. Personality defect? Maybe, but here’s one of my favorite children’s book first lines: “Once upon a time, Jack wouldn’t have been caught dead in a princess rescue.” Half Upon a Time by James Riley 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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