Children's literature

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Quotations on the value of children's literature, on children as readers, on writing for children

The value of children's literature[edit]

  • Poems for children help them celebrate the joy and wonder of their world. Humorous poems tickle the funny bone of their imaginations.
  • Good children's literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
    • Anonymous
  • Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
  • The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won, than by the stories it loves and believes in.
    • Harold Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare
  • There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
  • In our time, when the literature for adults is deteriorating, good books for children are the only hope, the only refuge.
  • In every generation, children's books mirror the society from which they arise; children always get the books their parents deserve.
  • The humble little school library...was a ramp to everything in the world and beyond, everything that could be dreamed and imagined, everything that could be known, everything that could be hoped.
  • We need metaphors of magic and monsters in order to understand the human condition.
  • We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence. 'Thou shalt not' is soon forgotten, but 'Once upon a time' lasts forever.

Children as readers[edit]

  • Happy is he who has laid up in his youth and held fast in all fortune a genuine and passionate love of reading.

Imagination[edit]

  • I doubt the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, that child would grow up to be an eggplant.
  • Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams--daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing--are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.
  • Sometimes we think we should be able to know everything. But we can't. We have to allow ourselves to see what there is to see, and we have to imagine.
  • You can read a child's story when you're old, eating frazzles at a bar, but it's our imaginations that make us who we are.

Writing for children[edit]

  • The worst attitude of all would be the professional attitude which regards children in the lump as a sort of raw material which we have to handle.
  • A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.
  • I write in a very laborious kind of a way. I write and rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. Well, the thing of course is if you're doing it well, when you finish your 30th rewrite, or something, it should sound like you've just written it completely, freshly once. Because sometimes what happens when you write and rewrite and rewrite, is you suck the life out of something. It's difficult. But I find that I do that because it's amazing -- the rhythm of the book, or what I call the music of the book -- how you read it. How you're carried along by the words and the subject -- is as important as the meaning. In fact, you can't have one without the other.
  • It's never perfect when I write it down the first time, or the second time, or the fifth time. But it always gets better as I go over it and over it.
  • I love revision. Where else can spilled milk be turned into ice cream?
  • The tale is often wiser than the teller.
  • When it comes to telling children stories, they don’t need simple language. They need beautiful language.
  • You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.
  • I believe that good questions are more important than answers, and the best children's books ask questions, and make the readers ask questions. And every new question is going to disturb someone's universe.
  • You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.
  • Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
  • A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.
  • Children also hate being talked-down to but, alas, they are very used to being patronised.
  • We must meet children as equals in that area of our nature where we are their equals...The child as reader is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man.
  • It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations-something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.
  • The greatest reward for a children's author is in knowing that our efforts might stir the minds and hearts of young readers with a vision and wonder of the world and themselves that may be new to them or reveal something already familiar in new and enlightening ways.