Gretchen Rubin

What’s Your Favorite Line from a Children’s Picture Book?

What’s Your Favorite Line from a Children’s Picture Book?

Every Wednesday is List Day, or Quiz Day, or Tips Day.

This Wednesday: a list of memorable lines from classic children's picture books.

Recently, I made a list of some of my favorite lines from classic children's picture books. This is my favorite kind of thing to do. I love quotes, and I love picture books. In fact, my children's literature reading groups once had a splinter-group meeting to discuss picture books, and I'm going to suggest that we do it again.

Truly great picture books are engaging at any age, beautiful and beautifully written, and yet we don't think of them as something we would seek out as adults. And when we think of enjoying "art," it's easy to imagine going to a museum--but the pleasure of art comes in many forms, and the art of picture books is a delight. Also, at least for me, reading picture books brings back many happy memories, and that's a happiness-booster, as well.


“My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” -- Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


“The moon is high. The sea is deep. They rock and rock and rock to sleep.”  -- Sandra Boynton, The Going To Bed Book


“She thought to herself, ‘If only I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as dark as ebony.’” – Brothers Grimm, Snow White -- two extraordinarily beautiful editions: one illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, the other by Nancy Ekholm Berkert


And he smiled at her and he said, “You are not only wise, and kind, and swift, but you are also the bravest of all the bunnies. And I shall make you my very own Gold Shoe Easter Bunny.”  --DuBose Heyward, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes


“He remembered where his bedroom window was, when there was a moon. It was always right around the moon. And then Harold made his bed. He got in it and he drew up the covers. The purple crayon dropped on the floor. And Harold dropped off to sleep.” – Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon


“Little Sal’s mother slowly backed away. (She was old enough to be shy of bears, even very small bears like Little Bear.) Then she turned and walked away quickly to look for Little Sal.” --Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal


“He told his mother all about his adventures while she took off his wet socks. And he thought and thought and thought about them.” –Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day


“Nothing to give your mother on her birthday?” said Mr. Rabbit. “Little girl, you really do want help.”

“I would like to give her something that she likes,” said the little girl.

“Something that she likes is a good present,” said Mr. Rabbit. –Charlotte Zolotow, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present


When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron safe. Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They all had all that they wanted.  -- William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble


The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before…but the Little House stayed just the same. – Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House


Then one morning Edith looked into the garden and there stood two bears!

The big bear bowed. “You must be Edith,” he said. “I am Mr. Bear and this is Little Bear.” – Dare Wright, The Lonely Doll (I went through an adult obsession with Dare Wright's picture books; I have many of them.)


One morning a mother saw a strange bundle under the blankets in her bed. “What is it?” she said to herself. “What can it be?” –Ruth Krauss, The Bundle Book (now it's called You're Just What I Need, but I prefer the original title; it was my sister's favorite book as a child)


“Momo is a big girl now, and this is a story she does not remember at all. Does she remember or not, it was not only the first day in her life that she used her umbrella, it was also the first day in her life that she walked alone, without holding either her mother’s or her father’s hand.”  -- Umbrella, Taro Yashima (one of my very, very favorite picture books)


“Oh no,” said the mermaid, “that was years before the bear came. We’ve had you always.” –Randall Jarrell, The Animal Family


“What kind of story would you like to hear?” said Mother Bear.

“Tell me about me,” said Little Bear. “Tell me about the things I once did.” –Else Holmelund Minarik, Little Bear (this one brings tears to my eyes)


How many of these did you recognize? And what are some of your favorite lines from children's picture books? I could keep going for hours. I have to add just one more: one of my very favorite picture books doesn't really have any good quotable lines, but the illustrations are mesmerizing: Peggy Rathman's 10 Minutes Till Bedtime. And now I must stop myself! Oh, and Chris Van Allsburg. Stopping now...

How about you? What are some of your favorite picture books, and lines from picture books?


Day 3 of the book give-away! Happier at Home hits the shelves in less than a month, and to celebrate, I’m giving away one book each day.

Enter your name and email on the sign-up form here, and every day, someone will be picked at random. U.S. and Canada only, alas.

If you’re wondering about the book, you can…

–learn more about it here

–read a sample chapter on the subject of “time” here

–email me for a one-page reading group guide here

–listen to a clip of the audiobook here.


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