Babies are Pure Love.

All babies are pure love. They feel complete love for themselves and know they are perfect, lovable, and unique. Yet from the first months of a baby’s life I see this glow of love fade, and by the age of ten – and sometimes much younger – the glow has diminished greatly as children have locked away a significant proportion of their love in order to protect themselves, in order to stop themselves from being hurt.

— Lorna Byrne, Love from Heaven, p. 15-16

Starting Whole

Is it possible, since skin is the largest organ of the body, that new babies don’t know the inside from the outside when they first come out? That there is no difference? That they are Möbius strips? This is how we came; wow. Talk about whole.

— Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway, p. 176

Reading Aloud

Beginners are more likely to choose to do an activity when they are successful at it and when they get pleasure from participation in the activity right from the start. This is why reading aloud is such a winning strategy in the making of readers. The novice reader experiences the pleasure of stories in a risk-free environment where it is impossible to fail or appear incompetent.

— Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer, Reading Matters, p. 45

Beneficent Circle

Pleasure is the spur that motivates beginning readers to spend the thousands and thousands of hours reading that it takes to become a proficient reader. Readers who become proficient are those who enjoy reading and who do it by choice as a voluntary activity in their leisure time. Children who dislike reading and avoid it whenever possible never get the hours of practice that it takes to become a good reader. With each year, the proficiency gap grows between children who enjoy reading and do it voluntarily and those who dislike and avoid reading.

— Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Lynne (E. F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer, Reading Matters, p. 45

Wyverns and Girls

A Wyvern’s body is different from the body of a young girl’s in several major respects. First, it has wings, which most young girls do not (there are exceptions). Second, it has a very long, thick tail, which some young girls may have, but those who find themselves so lucky keep them well hidden. Let us just say, there is a reason some ladies wore bustles in times gone by! Third, it weighs about as much as a tugboat carrying several horses and at least one boulder. There are girls who weigh that much, but as a rule, they are likely to be frost giants. Do not trouble such folk with asking after the time or why their shoes do not fit so well.

— Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, p. 57


“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again. Unfortunately, there are not so many facilities in your world that provide the kind of services we do. So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make them paladins once more, bold knights and true.”

— Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, p. 60

Talking About Books

Early in my career as an educational consultant I believed that the key to turning children into readers was simply to put the right book in the right hands at the right time and, bingo, children would love the stories they read. I quickly realized that something was missing. I soon recognized children also needed to talk about the books they read. Showing children they have something to say about the books they read helps them engage and connect with a story — children who talk about stories understand the stories better. This is an essential component of children becoming confident readers, and children need confidence to be good readers. Every child needs and deserves the advantage of being a good reader.

— Diane W. Frankenstein, Reading Together, p. 3

They’re All Readers.

I need to put forward more encouraging terms for my students than the negative popular terminology struggling and reluctant. Where is the hope in thses terms? I prefer to use positive language to identify the readers in my classes. Peeking into my classroom, I see sixty different readers with individual reading preferences and abilities, but I consistently recognize three trends: developing readers, dormant readers, and underground readers.

— Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, p. 24


Teaching in elementary school, and watching kids in action, I came to appreciate how effortlessly kids learn when they play. Babies learn to talk without taking multiple-choice talking tests. Toddlers learn to toddle without writing toddling essays. How do they do it? By playing around.

So from teaching I learned to respect kids as natural learners, supply them with the tools to learn, and then get out of the way. I learned to inspire instead of lecture. I learned to trust play. That philosophy is at the heart of everything I write for kids. I want my readers to laugh, of course. But then I want them to question, to argue, to wonder — What if? I want them to play. I want them to learn for themselves.

— Jon Scieszka, “What’s So Funny, Mr. Scieszka?,” A Family of Readers, edited by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano, p. 169

Why Children’s Literature?

That can be annoying for the people who packed the box. They want children to learn to read, for example, and of course they are right. The most important thing you learn at school is how to read. It’s important because we live in a literate society and in our society it’s as important to be able to read as it is to be able to walk and talk — if you can’t do these things, your ability to participate in society is restricted. But literature is bounding along ahead like the white rabbit, and before you know where you are, it’s over the hills and far away. Because children’s literature knows perfectly well that literacy is only a beginning, not an end. It’s the starting point, not the goal.

Literature soars way up into the air like a kite and makes us gasp. It’s held in place by a string wound around a spool, and the spool is maybe in the box. We have to have the spool of string, but the spool isn’t the interesting thing. It’s the kite that’s beautiful and buoyant and alive and that tugs for freedom.

— Siobhan Parkinson, “Flying Kites and Chasing White Rabbits: Children’s Literature in Functional Times,” The Horn Book Magazine, September/October 2011, p. 53