10 of the best children’s book quotes in history, maybe

So that statement might not be true but I’ve succeeded in avoiding the temptation to put 10 Dr Seuss quotes up.

As worthwhile as life affirming sound-bites can be, children’s literature has often ventured a little further and heavier in its observations.

This list probably works best alongside something lighter and more forgiving to humanity.

 

 

In the beginning was the word

and the word is ours;

the names of places,

the names of flowers,

the names of names.

Words are Ours, Michael Rosen

 

 

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Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything. Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.

James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

 

 

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‘Another Sandwich!’ said the King.

‘There’s nothing but hay left now,’ the messenger said, peeping into the bag.

‘Hay, then,’ the king murmured in a faint whisper.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. ‘There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re faint,’ he remarked to her, as he munched away.

‘I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,’ Alice suggested: ‘or some sal-volatile.’

‘I didn’t say there was nothing better,’ the King replied. I said there was nothing like it.’ Which Alice did not venture to deny.

Alice in Wonder Land, Lewis Carroll

 

 

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Length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it.”

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S.Lewis

 

 

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I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

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As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K.Rowling

 

 

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The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him.

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

 

 

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Fate is like a strange, unpopular resteraunt filled with off little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.

The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket

 

 

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“If you’re all so peaceful up there, how did you get such greedy and cruel ideas?”

The dragon was silent for a long time after this question. And at last he said: “It just came over me. I don’t know why. It just came over me, listening to the battling shouts and war-cries of the earth – I got excited, I want to join in.”

The Iron Man, Ted Hughes

 

 

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I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time chasing after all of us.

Peter Pan, J.M.Barrie

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger Bay Books is dedicated to looking closely at what makes children’s literature great and using this in the books we create.

 

 

 

 

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Do Children Understand the Meaning Behind ‘The Little Prince’?

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In fact, it would almost be impossible for a children’s book to have been in print continuously since 1943 and translated into over 250 languages — like The Little Prince has — without it being loved by both young and old for generations.

That’s a pretty easy point to agree on.

However, something a little harder to agree on is why both young and old love The Little Prince, as the reasons are seemingly very different.

As adults we’re of course drawn to the nostalgia of a children’s book. To us the world is mundane and predictable so we love the refreshing feeling of what it was like to see the world as a child, like the Little Prince does.

However, perhaps unlike the Little Prince himself and possibly unlike our younger counterparts too, we’re tempted to look a little deeper into it all. We like the story because, to us, it has meaning at every turn.

We enjoy the allegory and rich symbolism simmering constantly beneath the surface of everything and everyone our little hero encounters.

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Despite ‘The Little Prince’ being a children’s book, literary criticism refers to it as a paper on human nature.

We read about the rose and see our own mother. We hear about the sheep without a muzzle and we see a metaphor for trouble and pain in our life. We meet the drunkard, the king, and the geographer and see clearly in their actions the charades of our world. We read about the fox and to us he quite literally is friendship and all that is meaningful in life.

But that is us reading the story. That is us reading it with years of experience and insight at our disposal. When we see the fox we see a clear metaphor for friendship, but surely to a child the fox is, well… just a fox.

And that’s completely true.

Children simply just won’t get the depths of The Little Prince. They won’t get that counting the stars is like counting money. They won’t get why a man would drink to forget his shame. They won’t get how baobabs on a tiny planet could be the same as evil in your heart.

The Little Prince is packed with all sorts of symbols and nuances that aren’t even always obvious to us adults (ok, well they weren’t obvious to me). Of course a child doesn’t understand it all! But does that even matter? I think you can probably guess the answer here…

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Judging the value of a children’s story by the accessibility of its symbols is missing the point.

We are completely forgetting that the amusement behind The Little Prince is that the Little Prince himself doesn’t understand those around him. He doesn’t know what a king is or geographer or a conceited man or a lamplighter; he doesn’t understand why the narrator’s plane must be fixed or even why snakes are dangerous.

It is a story of a boy for whom everything is new and unknown. He doesn’t understand and he’s not worried that he doesn’t.

He asks a great deal of questions about these things, but ultimately he cares most about returning to his home planet, to his rose. It is this simple objective that is so important, and it is precisely the importance of this objective that the other characters in the story fail to grasp.

This is the heart of the book: while children may fail to understand many important things, their innocent nature means that the things they do love and understand are actually closer to the heart of what is truly meaningful in life than what adult’s value.

The other characters in the story value money and power, personal survival and the advancement of knowledge. The Little Prince values those close to him and his home.

Despite everything he doesn’t know, the Little Prince does know more than the other characters about what is most important.

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Antoine De Saint-Exupery was a writer, poet, journalist, aristocrat, pioneering aviator, and appeared on the 50 Franc note.

Adults may love The Little Prince for its nuance and insight, but children probably love it for a much more simple reason: it’s a great story. Just because adults may grasp more of the meaning that doesn’t mean they enjoy it any more.

Enjoyment is not exclusive to those with the greatest understanding.

If a child hears the story and all that they understand is that it is about a boy from a tiny planet trying to find his way home — if they find it entertaining and enjoyable, then that alone proves the book’s worth.

Just like the other characters in the story who forget what is important in life, we have forgotten that the real purpose of a children’s story is simple enjoyment, not how profound it is.

That young and old for generations have loved The Little Prince for different reasons is of no consequence. The Little Prince is a brilliant story with equal value for young and old. The adults reading it could do as well to remember the simple pleasure of a good story as children could from trying to grasp the deeper meaning behind it.

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Written by Michael Kineman

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Tiger Bay Books is a group based in Cardiff (Wales) looking to find, read, and ultimately create great children’s literature.

Through the blog we get to think about and share the things that we believe make a worth while children’s book.