As we prepare to turn the page and open 2017, take a stroll back in time with some classic children’s books.

Writers agonize over first lines, and for good reason. Beginnings are hard. Within them, there is the promise of a story. Some introduce the conflict, some the characters, others an odd tidbit tempting you to investigate. Each one sings with VOICE and urges you to turn the page.

Here are some great beginnings from classic children’s books for ages 2-12. Consider the power of each one.

Can you guess the titles from their first lines below? (No fair using technology.)

1. “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair…”

2. “My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes, and I came back with a dog.”

3. “Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.”

4. “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

5. “One winter morning Peter woke up and looked out the window.”

6. “In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.”

7. “ ‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.”

8. “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, it was the custom of all the fathers and mothers in China to give their first and honored sons great long names.”

9. “ ‘Now remember,’ Mother said, ‘your father and I are bringing some guests by after the opera, so please keep the house neat.’ “

10. “At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows, and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows, and no birds ever sing excepting old crows…”

Comment with your guesses below. (I might even have a prize!) Or leave us the opening line of your 2017…

Papers signed, I leaped aboard. I’d heard stories of this journey of text and art… But now it was real.

I wish you all a joyous, prosperous, healthy 2017 – with just enough conflict to inspire growth, interesting characters, and, of course, a myriad of tidbits that spark imagination, gratitude, and heartfelt laughter.

11 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. Happy New Year, Beth! What a fabulous challenge as we look towards the beginning of a new year of writing!
    1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
    3. The Giving Tree
    4. Madeline
    5. The Snowy Day
    6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
    7. Charlotte’s Web
    8. Tikki Tikki Tembo
    10. The Lorax

    And the opening line of my 2017:
    Each dawn brings a new opportunity to live, to laugh, to love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Smart post! I need to remember to go back and look closely at the opening lines of my drafts, make sure they have lots of pizazz. Great reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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