Great First Lines

Eliza Clark
November 1, 2010

Opening a new book is a bit like meeting a new person.  First impressions matter.  So do first lines. 

A great first line makes us want to know more.  It gives us that shiver of excitement - maybe I'll fall in love... with this book!

For young children of the squirmy variety, a great first line can cast a sort of spell -- the kind of rapt attention that leaves parents wondering, why don't they listen that way when I'm talking? And great opening lines don't just work the first time. Kids want to hear them over and over, and we're happy to oblige.  It's like falling in love all over again, every time.

Speaking of great lines, remember the one from "Jerry Maguire"? "You had me at 'Hello'"?  These books had us at "Hello," and we adore them all the way through until "The End."


"Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were-Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter."

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter


"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.  It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs...."

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne


"One day, a lion came to the library."

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen


"The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him 'WILD THING!' and Max said 'I'LL EAT YOU UP!' so he was sent to bed without eating anything."

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

"This is a story of a wish come true.  Margaret Barnstable wished on a star one night-"

The Maggie B. by Irene Haas


"Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy."

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans


"The sun did not shine.  It was too wet to play.  So we sat in the house/All that cold, cold, wet day."

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss


"In front of a small, well-hidden hole around in back of the Majestic Museum of Art there once stood a mouse named Norman."

Norman the Doorman by Don Freeman

"I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child.  I live at the Plaza."

Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight

From the Parents

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