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Children

  • ... children are unreliable, foreigners to discretion.

  • ... however strong the seduction of treating children as adults, it is always a seduction to resist.

  • It is a mystery why adults expect perfection from children. Few grownups can get through a whole day without making a mistake.

  • A child who constantly hears 'Don't,' 'Be careful,' 'Stop' will eventually be overtaken by schoolmates, business associates, and rival suitors.

  • Children whose problems aren't recognized become problem children.

  • A child can never be better than what his parents think of him.

  • Children should not be condemned for accidents. Compared with an adult, the child is all left hand.

  • Obstinacy in children is like a kite; it is kept up just as long as we pull against it.

  • A child does not thrive on what he is prevented from doing, but on what he actually does.

  • To give children everything is often worse than giving them nothing.

  • Children always take the line of most persistence.

  • The illusions of childhood are necessary experiences: a child should not be denied a balloon just because an adult knows that sooner or later it will burst.

  • Where there's a will there's a way, and where there's a child there's a will.

  • After you have children, the economic law reverses to Demand and Supply.

  • To heir is human.

  • Children in a family are like flowers in a bouquet: there's always one determined to face in an opposite direction from the way the arranger desires.

  • Two important things to teach a child: to do and to do without.

  • Parents and children cannot be to each other, as husbands with wives and wives with husbands. Nature has separated them by an almost impassable barrier of time; the mind and the heart are in quite a different state at fifteen and forty.

  • The grief of childhood is terrible while it lasts, it is so abandoned and so all-possessing.

  • The fault no child ever loses is the one he was most punished for.

  • There are children born to be children, and others who must mark time till they can take their natural places as adults.

  • Even in the same family, one child will always instinctively know when to ask for things, and another won't.

  • ... little seedlings never flourish in the soil they have been given, be it ever so excellent, if they are continually pulled up to see if the roots are grateful yet.

  • Children feel what their elders forget, our touching kinship with animals. To me a chipmunk was a far more real personality than Great-Uncle Aaron, and the mousehole gnawed in the lower left corner of the door to down cellar a more delightful habitation for the mind to contemplate than the parsonage.

  • Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud.

  • If from infancy you treat children as gods they are liable in adulthood to act as devils.

  • Children live in occupied territory. The brave and the foolhardy openly rebel against authority, whether harsh or benign. But most tread warily, outwardly accommodating themselves to alien mores and edicts while living in secret their iconoclastic and subversive lives.

  • Children are so afraid of us because they know we may try to keep them from making their biggest and most important mistakes.

  • Young folks don't want you to understand 'em. You've got no more right to understand them than you have to play their games or wear their clothes. They belong to themselves.

  • [Television viewing] is a one-way transaction that requires the taking in of particular sensory material in a particular way, no matter what the material might be. There is, indeed, no other experience in a child's life that permits quite so much intake while demanding so little outflow.

  • Parents may overemphasize the importance of content in considering the effects of television on their children because they assume that the television experience of children is the same as their own. But there is an essential difference between the two: the adult has a vast backlog of real-life experiences; the child does not. ... His subsequent real-life activities will stir memories of television experiences, not, as for the adult watcher, the other way around. To a certain extent the child's early television experiences will serve to dehumanize, to mechanize, to make less real the realities and relationships he encounters in life. For him, real events will always carry subtle echoes of the television world.

  • Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.

  • Children are rarely in the position to lend one a truly interesting sum of money. There are, however, exceptions, and such children are an excellent addition to any party.

  • Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in mood, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement-mixer long after one's own interest in the topic has waned.

  • Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.

  • It is impossible to betray another man's child — for whatever reason — without also betraying one's own. To do less than justice to another man's child, no matter who that man is, is to impair by that much the chances one's own children have for a life of meaning and purpose.

  • ... the position of children as a group, in a commercial society, is not wholly advantageous. A commercial society urges its citizens to be responsible for things, but not for people. It is the unquestioned assumption of a mercantile culture that things need and deserve attention, but that people can take care of themselves ...

  • ... children are an embarrassment to a business civilization. A business society needs children for the same reason that a nomadic or a pastoral society needs them — to perpetuate itself. Unfortunately, however, children are of no use to a business society until they have almost reached physical maturity.

  • A business society, therefore, always has in its children a large group of individuals who cannot make money and who do not understand (or want to understand) the profit motive. In short, they are subversives ...

  • Everything matters terribly to children, you know, they're fresh and unformed ...

  • I firmly believe kids don't want your understanding. They want your trust, your compassion, your blinding love and your car keys, but you try to understand them and you're in big trouble.

  • A child develops individuality long before he develops taste. I have seen my kid straggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.

  • I will never understand children. I never pretended to. I meet mothers all the time who make resolutions to themselves. 'I'm going to ... go out of my way to show them I am interested in them and what they do. I am going to understand my children.' These women end up making rag rugs, using blunt scissors.

  • Kids need love the most when they deserve it the least.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • in Jerry Dunn, ed., Tricks of the Trade ()
  • Explain to me how he [her son] can ride a bicycle, run, play ball, set up a camp, swing, fight a war, swim and race for eight hours ... and has to be driven to the garbage can.

  • People have been marrying and bringing up children for centuries now. Nothing has ever come of it.

  • Play is not for every hour of the day, or for any hour taken at random. There is a tide in the affairs of children. Civilization is cruel in sending them to bed at the most stimulating time of dusk.

  • There is something very cheerful and courageous in the setting-out of a child on a journey of speech with so small baggage and with so much confidence ...

  • The popular idea that a child forgets easily is not an accurate one. Many people go right through life in the grip of an idea which has been impressed on them in very tender years.

  • More children suffer from interference than from non-interference.

  • If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder ... he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

  • Young children have no sense of wonder. They bewilder well, but few things surprise them. All of it is new to young children, after all, and equally gratuitous.

  • The blinding sway of their inner lives makes children immoral.

  • No child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, and you can see it in them, and they know it, too, but then the times get to them, and the wear out their brains learning what folks expect, and spend their strength trying to rise over those same folks.

  • When they're little, they break your back, and when they're big they break your heart ...

  • When our Gregory was about two years old, he had the power and the velocity of a torpedo. So the simple business of taking off his clothes and putting on his pajamas turned into a chore roughly equivalent to the landing of a two-hundred-pound marlin.

  • ... he is not like other children, not cruel, or savage. For this very reason he is called 'strange.' A child who is mature, in the sense that the heart is mature, is always, I have observed, called deficient.

  • ... perhaps there is something more than courtesy behind the dissembling reticence of childhood. ... Most artists dislike having their incomplete work considered and discussed and this analogy, I think, is valid. The child is incomplete, too, and is constantly experimenting as he seeks his own style of thought and feeling.

  • [On her first day of kindergarten:] I wasn't used to children and they were getting on my nerves. Worse, it apppeared that I was a child, too. I hadn't known that before; I thought I was just short.

  • Cleaning your house / While your kids are still growing / Is like shoveling the walk / Before it stops snowing.

  • The first book that a child reads has a colossal impact.

  • ... since each child reads only about six hundred books in the course of childhood, each book should nourish them in some way — with new ideas, insight, humor, or vocabulary.

  • Children read to learn — even when they are reading fantasy, nonsense, light verse, comics, or the copy on cereal packets, they are expanding their minds all the time, enlarging their vocabulary, making discoveries; it is all new to them.

  • Personally, I think it's a good way to let a child start right in with the laws of Nature before he's old enough to be surprised at them.

  • What are so mysterious as the eyes of a child?

  • A blossom must break the sheath it has been sheltered by.

  • ... parents needn't bother driving small children around to see the purple mountains' majesties; the children will go right on duking it out in the back seat and whining for food as if you were showing them Cincinnati. No one under twenty really wants to look at scenery.

  • Anyone who has raised more than one child knows full well that kids turn out the way they turn out — astonishingly, for the most part, and usually quite unlike their siblings, even their twins, raised under the same flawed rooftree. Little we have done or said, or left undone and unsaid, seems to have made much mark. It's hubris to suppose ourselves so influential; a casual remark on the playground is as likely to change their lives as any dedicated campaign of ours. They come with much of their own software already in place, waiting, and none of the keys we press will override it.

  • Making the decision to have a child — it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

  • How do you know they're growing up? Well, the bite marks are higher.

    • Phyllis Diller,
    • in Yael Kohen, We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy ()
  • Probably no adult misery can be compared with a child's despair.

  • We've begun to long for the pitter-patter of little feet — so we bought a dog. Well, it's cheaper, and you get more feet.

  • A child is a temporarily disabled and stunted version of a larger person, whom you will someday know. Your job is to help them overcome the disabilities associated with their size and in- experience so that they get on with being that larger person, and in a form that you might like to know.

  • The first idea that the child must acquire, in order to be actively disciplined, is that of the difference between good and evil; and the task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility, and evil with activity ...

  • No social problem is as universal as the oppression of the child.

  • ... all adults stand accused ... the society responsible for the welfare of children has been put on trial. There is something apocalyptic about this startling accusation; it is mysterious and terrible like the voice of the Last Judgment: 'What have you done to the children I entrusted to you?'

  • Adults have not understood children or adolescents and they are, as a consequence, in continual conflict with them.

  • ... adults look upon a child as something empty that is to be filled through their own efforts, as something inert and helpless for which they must do everything, as something lacking an inner guide and in constant need of inner direction. ... An adult who acts in this way, even though he may be convinced that he is filled with zeal, love, and a spirit of sacrifice on behalf of his child, unconsciously suppresses the development of the child's own personality.

  • A child is a discoverer. He is an amorphous, splendid being in search of his own proper form.

  • A child is mysterious and powerful and contains within himself the secret of human nature.

  • The social rights of children must be recognized so that a world suited to their needs may be constructed for them. The greatest crime that society commits is that of wasting the money which it should use for children on things that will destroy them and society itself as well.

  • Society is like the guardian of a child who has squandered his patrimony. Adults spend money on themselves and build what they want, when it is obvious that a great share of their wealth should be destined for their children. ... Nature furnishes no examples of adults who devour everything themselves and abandon their own offspring to misery. ... When, because of its wastefulness, society has an urgent need of money, it takes this from schools, and especially from the lower schools that shelter the seeds of life. It takes it from these schools since there are no voices to defend them. This is one of humanity's worst crimes and errors. Society does not even perceive that it causes double destruction when it uses this money to build instruments of war. It destroys by preventing life and bringing death, but the two are the result of a single error.

  • The great constructive energies of the child ... have hitherto been concealed beneath an accumulation of ideas concerning motherhood. We used to say it was the mother who formed the child; for it is she who teaches him to walk, talk, and so on. But none of this is really done by the mother. It is an achievement of the child. What the mother brings forth is the baby, but it is the baby who produces the man. Should the mother die, the baby still grows up and completes his work of making the man.

  • Infancy is a period of true importance, because, when we want to infuse new ideas, to modify or better the habits and customs of a people, to breathe new vigor into its national traits, we must use the child as our vehicle; for little can be accomplished with adults.

  • It is easy to substitute our will for that of the child by means of suggestion or coercion; but when we have done this we have robbed him of his greatest right, the right to construct his own personality.

  • Once you've loved a child, you love all children. You give away your love to one, and you find that by the giving you have made yourself an inexhaustible treasury.

  • A child's business is an open yard, into which any passer-by may peer curiously. It is no house, not even a glass house. A child's reticence is a little white fence around her business, with a swinging, helpless gate through which grown-ups come in or go out, for there are no locks on your privacy ...

  • They're all poets when they're very young.

  • The protective coloration of the young is general brainlessness. So we soon learn to make silly sounds in order to pursue our thoughts in private.

  • Children are wholesomely objective about their own faults. They wear their little selves turned inside out; the patches and seams have no privacy.

  • Nobody has ever written a juvenile book on 'How to win friends and influence people.' Children are born knowing.

  • At the core of every child is an intact human.

  • Certainly I do not wish that instead of these masters I had read baby books, written down to children, and with such ignorant dullness that they blunt the sense and corrupt the tastes of the still plastic human being. But I do wish that I had read no books at all till later — that I had lived with toys, and played in the open air. Children should not cull the fruits of reflection and observation early, but expand in the sun, and let thoughts come to them. They should not through books antedate their actual experiences ...

  • ... there is such a rebound from parental influence that it generally seems that the child makes use of the directions given by the parent only to avoid the prescribed path.

  • What a difference it makes to come home to a child!

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • letter (1849), in Alice Rossi, ed., The Feminist Papers ()
  • Her child was like a load that held her down, and yet like a hand that pulled her to her feet.

  • ... my children's faces are private candles i sometimes worship at ...

    • Deborah Keenan,
    • "Good Dreams or Milk," The Only Window That Counts ()
  • I suppose a child's first obligation is to become a stranger to his parents.

  • Once they all stop drinking your blood, and start functioning on their own systems, they become galaxies, spinning away from you, covering greater distances with every passing year.

  • Spoiling is a vexed question, but as a rule people get so much stern justice from all the rest of the world that it seems well that their parents should love and comfort them in youth for the many disgraces and difficulties yet to come.

  • Grade school was perilous. ... I can see how I must have worried them. I was the kind of kid who, for no apparent reason, wept piteously or threw up on myself. On an especially scary day, I sometimes did both.

  • At eighteen months old, no child is a civilized companion. Maurice was messy. ... He needed constant attention, entertainment and supervision, and neither his looks, his manners, nor his monosyllabic conversation really compensated his mother for her sacrifice of those activities to which she had been accustomed and which she heartily enjoyed.

  • Every now and again it would be considered wholesome for me to be more with people of my own age. Demotion to such company was a sapless exile. Their inanity was insufferable ...

  • Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child's mind, they are not easily eradicated.

  • ... I believe that children long for form just as grownups do, and that it releases rather than cramps creative energy.

  • One should, I think, always give children money, for they will spend it for themselves far more profitably than we can ever spend it for them.

  • We all want to leave our children the Garden of Eden and we wind up giving them hardscrabble.

  • ... he was small, dark, closed in that attitude of terrible resignation I recognized from my own childhood, and I knew that resignation to be the only defense, the only immunity in a world where children are often the martyrs.

  • Every time a child is saved from the dark side of life, every time one of us makes the effort to make a difference in a child's life, we add light and healing to our own lives.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.

  • I discovered, quite early in motherhood, that the longest and most painful deliveries occur when you give birth to stepchildren.

  • Raising Black children — female and male — in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive.

  • My little cookies, my big-small girls, my little chips of DNA whirling forward through the universe. My double darlings, my double dollop of chocolate chip ice cream, my little puppybody, my bubblegum reebok babies with the double dirty smile.

  • It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too little father.

  • What would happen if we listened to children as much as we talked to them?

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "A Balance Between Nature and Nurture," in Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds., This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women ()
  • I no longer believe the conservative message that children are naturally selfish and destructive creatures who need civilizing by hierarchies or painful controls. On the contrary, I believe that hierarchy and painful controls create destructive people. And I no longer believe the liberal message that children are blank slates on which society can write anything. On the contrary, I believe a unique core self is born into every human being; the result of millennia of environment and heredity combined in an unpredictable way that could never happen before or again.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "A Balance Between Nature and Nurture," in Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds., This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women ()
  • What Business had you to get Children, without you had Cabbage enough to maintain 'em?

  • ... the temperaments of children are often as oddly unsuited to parents as if capricious fairies had been filling cradles with changelings.

  • The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet.

  • So long as little children are allowed to suffer, there is no true love in this world.

  • Give the neighbors' kids an inch and they'll take the whole yard.

  • Knowing few children of my age with whom to compare notes, I envied the children of literature to whom interesting things were always happening ...

  • Children are little anarchists, possessed, however, of a powerful herd instinct, leading them to demand oppressive conformity from others, and especially conformity to their own primitive urges.

  • Children hold us hostage; they represent our commitment to the future.

  • If you want a baby, have a new one. Don't baby the old one.

  • Almost all travel is lost on teen-agers. ... The young do not discover the world. They discover themselves, and travel only interrupts their trips to the interior.

  • In their sympathies, children feel nearer animals than adults.

  • We love those we feed, not vice versa; in caring for others we nourish our own self esteem. Children are dependent upon adults. It's a craven role for a child. It's very natural to want to bite the hand that feeds you.

  • Twins: Womb-mates.

  • With our parents we bury our past, with our children our future.

  • On the plane, an eight-year-old with an excess of testosterone keeps running across my feet. Finally I grab him by his T-shirt and say, very sweetly, 'Listen, darling, if you don't stop trampling me I'm going to make you sit on my lap while I tell you my entire life story. Including a lot of details about drug rehab and my divorce.' He goes back to his seat.

    • Rosanne Cash,
    • "The Arc of Loneliness," Bodies of Water ()
  • All encounters with children are touched with social embarrassment.

  • Children driven good are apt to be driven mad.

  • Those who have lived in a house with spoiled children must have a lively recollection of the degree of torment they can inflict upon all who are within sight or hearing.

  • ... sometimes the very faults of parents produce a tendency to opposite virtues in their children.

  • America may be the only society on earth to have experienced what has been called an 'epidemic of children killing children,' which is ravaging some of its communities today.

  • The television screen is the lens through which most children learn about violence. Through the magnifying power of this lens, their everyday life becomes suffused by images of shootings, family violence, gang warfare, kidnappings, and everything else that contributes to violence in our society. It shapes their experiences long before they have had the opportunity to consent to such shaping or developed the ability to cope adequately with this knowledge.

  • Was it possible that not so many months ago they had waited for his words as for pearls and rubies? Was this the child whose uncanny silence had stricken them with shame in the presence of other young parents? His voice was high and clear; no door could shut out its intonations. He chanted with a steadily rising inflection the saga of his past day interwoven with irrelevant excerpts from the pig-telephone story and one other, his longest, which dealt mysteriously with a cup and saucer, a lady and a pianola ...

  • Anybody who thinks there is any vague chance of adult exchange with a child is up the spout; and would be much less disappointed if they recognized the chasm unbridgeably dividing them.

  • Books that children read but once are of scant service to them; those that have really helped to warm our imaginations and to train our faculties are the few old friends we know so well that they have become a portion of our thinking selves.

  • Cats, even when robust, have scant liking for the boisterous society of children, and are apt to exert their utmost ingenuity to escape it. Nor are they without adult sympathy in their prejudice.

  • ... in my grandparents' house it was a distinction and a mournful pleasure to be ill. This was partly because my grandfather was always ill, and his children adored him and were inclined to imitate him; and partly because it was so delightful to be pitied and nursed by my grandmother.

  • A good start in life is as important to plants as it is to children: they must develop strong roots in a congenial soil, otherwise they will never make the growth that will serve them richly according to their needs in their adult life.

  • Our children ... are not treated with sufficient respect as human beings, and yet from the moment they are born they have this right to respect. We keep them children for too long, their world separate from the real world of life.

  • If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.

  • The community must assume responsibility for each child within its confines. Not one must be neglected whatever his condition. The community must see that every child gets the advantages and opportunities which are due him as a citizen and as a human being.

  • I do not believe in a child world. It is a fantasy world. I believe the child should be taught from the very first that the whole world is his world, that adult and child share one world, that all generations are needed.

  • The happy marriage, which is the only proper nursery, is indissoluble. The unhappy marriage, which perpetually tells the child a bogey-man story about life, ought to be dissolved.

  • A child is an adult temporarily enduring conditions which exclude the possibility of happiness.

  • The child who is uprooted begins to recognize that what he builds within himself is what will endure, what will withstand shattering experiences.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Jody Hay, "Out of the Labyrinth: An Interview," East West Journal ()
  • ... why's the resemblance, moral or mental, / Of children to people so coincidental? / ... / So who can say — this is just between us — / That children and we are a common genus ...

  • Children from ten to twenty don't want to be understood. Their whole ambition is to feel strange and alien and misinterpreted so that they can live austerely in some stone tower of adolescence, their privacies unviolated.

    • Phyllis McGinley,
    • "New Year and No Resolutions," Merry Christmas, Happy New Year ()
  • Children are forced to live very rapidly in order to live at all. They are given only a few years in which to learn hundreds of thousands of things about life and the planet and themselves.

  • It would be impossible to explain the last war to these children, let alone preparations for another. They really know about war and what it does to life. ... Adults could not persuade these small survivors that it is always necessary to make the world safe for democracy, but never safe for children.

  • We are all born charming, frank, and spontaneous and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society.

  • Adorable children are considered to be the general property of the human race. (Rude children belong to their mothers.)

  • What great fun it is for those of us old enough to appreciate nap time to imagine wild, free youth out there overflowing with exuberant emotions and happily struggling in vain to suppress the madcap ways they keep inventing to express them. Unfortunately, however, the real chief social problem of youth is the habit of standing around looking stupid. Mind you, Miss Manners is not accusing anyone of actually being stupid. Tuning out of conversations that do not immediately concern one, responding minimally to banalities, and utterly relaxing the features whenever possible, short of allowing the tongue to loll outside the mouth, may be defended as rational behavior. ... Standing around looking stupid, however, is an extremely impractical social posture. Adults invariably interpret it as representing stupidity, or at least contempt for themselves, which they naturally believe to be the same thing. It is not a wise idea to leave this impression on adults, not so much because they have feelings but because they have beach houses, summer jobs to give out, places in schools to allot, and the ability and opportunity to air damaging opinions in front of their own children.

  • Children are unaccountable little creatures.

  • The children were there, unannounced, unapologized for; young children, still fresh from the impropriety of birth.

  • With no banal reassuring grown-ups present, with grown-up intervention taken away, there is no limit to the terror strange children feel of each other, a terror life obscures but never ceases to justify. There is no end to the violations committed by children on children, quietly talking alone.

  • ... very young people are true but not resounding instruments.

  • When one is a child, the disposition of objects, tables and chairs and doors, seems part of the natural order: a house-move lets in chaos — as it does for a dog.

  • ... children like change — for one thing, they never anticipate regret.

  • Also, perhaps children are sterner than grown-up people in their refusal to suffer, in their refusal, even, to feel at all.

  • Two things are terrible in childhood: helplessness (being in other people's power) and apprehension — the apprehension that something is being concealed from us because it is too bad to be told.

  • The child lives in the book; but just as much the book lives in the child.

  • Though not all reading children grow up to be writers, I take it that most creative writers must in their day have been reading children.

  • ... parents are too apt to mistake inclination for genius.

  • The mother's battle for her child — with sickness, with poverty, with war, with all the forces of exploitation and callousness that cheapen human life — needs to become a common human battle, waged in love and in the passion for survival.

  • Children can be the most cruel creatures alive. They have the herd instinct of prejudice against any outsider, and they are merciless in its indulgence.

  • Too much indulgence has ruined thousands of children; too much love not one.

  • One of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was that I couldn't protect my children from their own lives.

  • All people, even one's own children, come with baggage. When they're little, you have to help them carry it. But when they grow up, you have to do that difficult thing of setting their baggage down and taking up your own again.

  • ... telling the truth about children's lives is radical.

  • ... help that is not positively necessary is a hindrance to a growing organism.

  • ... the most elementary experience of life proves that the effects of compulsion last exactly as long as the physical or moral club can be applied.

  • If we could learn how to utilize all the intelligence and patent good will children are born with, instead of ignoring much of it — why — there might be enough to go around! There might be enough to solve our alarming human problems, to put an end to poverty, to stop waging wars.

  • No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true educator should be to unlock that treasure ...

  • I firmly believe, however, that if your children have never hated you, you have failed as a parent.

    • Bette Davis,
    • with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That ()
  • ... the young, young children, O my brothers, / They are weeping bitterly! / They are weeping in the playtime of the others, / In the country of the free.

  • In the pure loves of child and mother! — / Two human loves make one divine.

  • Men do not think / Of sons and daughters, when they fall in love.

  • The society that destroys its children is eating its own tail, committing suicide in the most perverse way.

  • [On serial killers:] Sometimes it's not going to matter who raises them. If the parents were Mary and Joseph, it would still turn out the same.

  • ... there is probably no such thing as an innocent question, at least not when a parent is doing the asking.

  • It has been noticed that people who are not parents often have a peculiar fondness for children. This is sometimes attributed to a very beautiful nostalgia for a gift denied to them — dream-children, flowers that have only bloomed in imagination — but we think it is rather because they have not the faintest idea how dreadful children are.

  • [On the birth of fourth child in six years:] Our planning may leave something to be desired, but our designs, thank God, have been flawless.

  • And a great misunderstanding is that children think their parents are grown-up, and parents feel obliged to act as if they were.

  • Youth is a mortal wound.

  • It is only grown-ups who want children to be children; children themselves always want to be real people ...

    • Jill Paton Walsh,
    • in Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy L. Sayers, A Presumption of Death ()
  • Eleven is just about the best age for almost anything.

  • Perhaps I may record here my protest against the efforts, so often made, to shield children and young people from all that has to do with death and sorrow, to give them a good time at all hazards on the assumption that the ills of life will come soon enough. Young people themselves often resent this attitude on the part of their elders; they feel set aside and belittled as if they were denied the common human experiences.

  • Children must help shell peas. In a world of things too big, getting peas from pods is a chance for pea-sized people to exercise authority.

  • When a species fails to care for its progeny, the species is doomed.

  • My grief and my smile begin in your face, my son.

  • The world is always a new plaything to children, while to the old it seems falling to pieces from sheer dryness. Everything loses its value with time, but it is not the fault of the fruit, but of the mouth and the tongue.

  • ... perhaps children never, never come close to their parents, so intent are they on the escape from them. For it is right to escape, that I know. That is the whole business of youth, not to be swallowed up by the adults who reared us.

  • There are no illegitimate children, there are only illegitimate parents.

  • I would give up my life for my children, but not myself.

  • ... she was one of those children who cannot help behaving well.

  • A food is not necessarily essential just because your child hates it.

  • The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.

  • The main purpose of children's parties is to remind you that there are children more awful than your own.

  • She [Mamma] does say I am a new sance. I guess a new sance is something some grown-up people don't like to have around at all.

    • Opal Whiteley,
    • 1920, in Benjamin Hoff, ed., The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow ()
  • I think one of the reasons we have children is to believe everything all over again. And I'm not talking Santa, here, either.

  • Defining child care primarily as women's sphere reinforces the devaluing of women and prevents their equal access to power.

  • At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experiences of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.

  • Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one ...

  • For success in training children the first condition is to become as a child oneself ... to be as entirely and simply taken up with the child as the child himself is absorbed by his life.

  • ... the higher the development of women, the more they suffer from the 'patriotic' mandate to bear many children to replace the nation's losses. For they know that, from the point of view of their personal development as well as that of the race, fewer but better children are to be preferred.

  • The experiences of childhood are rarely forgotten. They should be the brightest, happiest ones of life, and the teacher who needlessly darkens their memory has reason to feel both shame and sorrow.

  • One of the charms of early childhood is its utter unconsciousness of self. The little child surveys us with big, wondering eyes. His every thought is occupied, not with himself, but with us. He is interested, not in our opinion of him, but in our actions, our speech, our dress. Whatever he does, he does with his whole heart, never thinking or caring what observers may conclude.

  • Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.

  • The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished and pruned, pricks most deeply and draws more blood.

  • Home is that youthful region where a child is the only real living inhabitant. Parents, siblings, and neighbors are mysterious apparitions who come, go, and do strange unfathomable thing in and around the child, the region's only enfranchised citizen.

  • Children, I feel, are as much entitled to privacy as human beings.

  • ... children must be taught how to think, not what to think.

  • ... where families suffer from disasters that are preventable, this is a measure of a whole nation's neglect. A society imperils its own future when, out of negligence or contempt, it overlooks the need of children to be reared in a family ... or when, in the midst of plenty, some families cannot give their children adequate food and shelter, safe activity and rest, and an opportunity to grow into full adulthood as people who can care for and cherish other human beings like themselves.

  • Children's as good as 'rithmetic to set you findin' out things.

  • ... in spite of what the child has been told he knows that a room in the dark is not the same as one seen earlier in bright daylight.

  • All children are by nature evil, and while they have none but the natural evil principle to guide them, pious and prudent parents must check their naughty passions in any way that they have in their power, and force them into decent and proper behavior and into what are called good habits.

  • The child has a primary need to be regarded and respected as the person he really is at any given time, and as the center — the central actor — in his own activity.

  • Every child has a legitimate narcissistic need to be noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected by his mother. In the first weeks and months of life he needs to have the mother at his disposal, must be able to use her and to be mirrored by her.

  • It is precisely because a child's feelings are so strong that they cannot be repressed without serious consequences. The stronger a prisoner is, the thicker the prison walls have to be, which impede or completely prevent later emotional growth.

  • ... someday we will regard our children not as creatures to manipulate or to change but rather as messengers from a world we once deeply knew, but which we have long since forgotten, who can reveal to us more about the true secrets of life, and also our own lives, than our parents were ever able to.

    • Alice Miller,
    • preface, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • Children want one thing at a time, and want that one thing passionately.

  • I do not approve of children being beaten. It is always a confession of failure.

  • All mothers love their own children as best they can, according to their temperament and circumstances, and all mothers should have done better, in their children's eyes, when the going gets tough for the children.

  • Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way ... Or now and then we'll hear from an artist who's never lost it.

  • The patience and ability to work through a long series of steps — to figure things out — is a foundation for the child's creative life later on.

    • Ann Lewin,
    • in Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray, The Creative Spirit ()
  • Spatial intelligence is virtually left out of formal education. In kindergarten we give children blocks and sand with which to build. Then we take those things away for the next twelve years of their education and expect kids to be architects and engineers.

    • Ann Lewin,
    • in Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray, The Creative Spirit ()
  • Small children do not belong at an adult party, and especially should not be used like trained midgets to help serve martinis.

  • If Eric is stuck with a big nose, crooked teeth, a dud personality, and trouble with long division, all-American parents will fix it. They are the only parents in the world with the inclination and the resources to reassemble their kids if they don't like them.

  • Many children fly like birds, guess other people's dreams, and speak with ghosts, but ... they all outgrow it when they lose their innocence.

  • When she had been a child, children were expected to defer to their parents in everything, to wait on them and help around the house and so on; but when she became a parent and was ready to enjoy her turn at being deferred to, the winds of fashion in child rearing had changed, and parents were expected to defer to their children in hopes of not squelching their imagination and creativity. She had missed out all the way around.

  • It was true what they said, she thought, that if you don't have children the longing for them will kill you, and if you do, the worrying over them will kill you.

  • A successful parent is one who raises a child who grows up and is able to pay for her or his own psychoanalysis.

  • Children have almost an intuitive discernment between the maxims you bring forward for their use, and those by which you direct your own conduct.

  • You, that have toiled during youth, to set your son upon higher ground, and to enable him to begin where you left off, do not expect that son to be what you were, — diligent, modest, active, simple in his tastes, fertile in resources. You have put him under quite a different master. Poverty educated you; wealth will educate him. You cannot suppose the result will be the same.

  • Worlds can be found by a child and an adult bending down and looking together under the grass stems or at the skittering crabs in a tidal pool.

  • The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself.

  • All children are artists, and it is an indictment of our culture that so many of them lose their creativity, their unfettered imaginations, as they grow older.

  • There is no relation more intimately personal than that of parents to the child they have brought into the world; and there is therefore no relationship in which the community should be slower to interfere.

  • ... what its children become, that will the community become.

  • If responsibility for the upbringing of children is to continue to be vested in the family, then the rights of children will be secured only when parents are able to make a living for their families with so little difficulty that they may give their best thought and energy to the child's development and the problem of helping it adjust itself to the complexities of the modern environment.

    • Suzanne La Follette,
    • "Institutional Marriage and Its Economic Aspects," Concerning Women ()
  • ... the sins of children rise up in judgment against their parents.

  • A child is fed with milk and praise.

  • Children never grow tired; their likes and dislikes are constant; let them laugh at something once and they laugh always; do what you will, they are sure to say, 'Do it again!'

  • The best and most popular novelists do not, as a rule, have children in their books at all, and this is wise. Parents are about the only people who are interested in children, and they merely in their own ones.

  • A child with an intense capacity for feeling can suffer to a degree that is beyond any degree of adult suffering, because imagination, ignorance, and the conviction of utter helplessness are untempered either by reason or by experience.

  • A child can create tremendous vitality at the core of your life and astounding activity at the edges.

  • ... children robbed of love will dwell on magic.

  • It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.

  • Every minute in the presence of a child takes seven minutes off your life.

  • Children model the behavior of adults, on whatever scale is available to them. Ours are growing up in a nation whose most important, influential men — from presidents to the coolest film characters — solve problems by killing people. ... We have taught our children in a thousand ways, sometimes with flag-waving and sometimes with a laugh track, that the bad guy deserves to die.

  • It used to be said that this country was a child-centered one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children have been our lowest priority, both in economic and emotional spending.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "Child Rearing," in Maggie Tripp, Woman in the Year 2000 ()
  • Yes, the race of children possesses magically sagacious powers!

  • Hedda was queasily phobic of children and, by extension, of short people in general. They were too condensed, like undiluted cans of soup — too intensely human and, therefore, too intensely not to be trusted. The mistakes in the basic ingredients — the stupidity, the cruelty — were overpoweringly present.

  • The great myth of our work-intense era is 'quality time.' We believe we can make up for the loss of days or hours, especially with each other, by concentrated minutes. But ultimately there is no way to do one-minute mothering. There is no way to pay attention in a hurry.

  • I suppose we make kids the repository of our highest ideals because children are powerless. In that way we can have ideals and ignore them at the same time.

  • ... children's reading, unlike that of adults, is conditioned by what is at hand.

    • Lillian H. Smith,
    • "The Library's Responsibility to the Child," in Emily Miller Danton, ed., The Library of Tomorrow ()
  • It was funny, Skip thought, how much attention children demanded the first few years of their lives and how hard adults strove ever after to get their attention.

  • I love my daughter. She and I have shared my body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born, she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since.

  • How defeated and restless the child that is not doing something in which it sees a purpose, a meaning! It is by its self-directed activity that the child, as years pass, finds its work, the thing it wants to do and for which it finally is willing to deny itself pleasure, ease, even sleep and comfort.

  • The newer education put stress on culture ... Saturday mornings, the young were brushed and washed, forced into blue cheviot suits, and dragged to children's concerts to learn appreciation. They wriggled, squirmed, counted the light bulbs in the ceiling, dived under seats to gather ticket stubs, stampeded out at intermissions. The weakness of their bladders was astounding.

  • Children's liberation is the next item on our civil rights shopping list.

  • But the pop-up suburb has an incomplete feel to it like something that just wasn't right, wasn't quite real, almost like a movie set. When people raised families in that sterile environment, it produced directionless children who became directionless teenagers, then directionless adults. With no roots, no past to stand on, you got hollow kids.

  • The debt of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward. What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children.

  • ... one must guard against the fault of being annoyed with one's children for not being what one wished and hoped, what one wanted them to be. One must learn to abandon dreams and to take things as they come and characters as they are — one cannot quarrel with nature, and I suppose it knows best, though to us it seems cruel, perverse and contrary in the extreme. But it ends in one's feeling somewhat solitary at times!

    • Empress Frederick,
    • 1887, in Sir Frederick Ponsonby, ed., The Letters of the Empress Frederick1929)
  • A mother! What are we worth really? They all grow up whether you look after them or not.

  • Children in poverty cannot advocate for themselves. It is the work of responsible adults to do that for them.

  • What I do feel the modern child lacks, when compared with the earlier generation, is concentration, and the sheer dogged grit to carry a long job through. ... Helping children to face up to a certain amount of drudgery, cheerfully and energetically, is one of the biggest problems that teachers, in these days of ubiquitous entertainment, have to face in our schools ...

  • A child without an acquaintance of some kind with a classic of literature ... suffers from that impoverishment for the rest of his life. No later intimacy is like that of the first.

  • I was a very ancient twelve; my views at that age would have done credit to a Civil War veteran. I am much younger now than I was at twelve or anyway, less burdened. The weight of the centuries lies on children, I'm sure of it.

  • That most sensitive, most delicate of instruments — the mind of a little child!

  • Our children have been recycled from all of us, and they hold our collective memory.

  • ... biological possibility and desire are not the same as biological need. Women have child-bearing equipment. To choose not to use the equipment is no more blocking what is instinctive than it is for a man who, muscles or no, chooses not to be a weight lifter.

  • my mother left us / home alone. we / grew ourself ...

  • A girl is a soul at sunrise.

  • It is not a bad thing that children should occasionally, and politely, put parents in their place.

    • Colette,
    • "The Priest on the Wall," My Mother's House ()
  • There is a certain melancholy in having to tell oneself that one has said good-bye — unless of course one is a grandmother — to the age and the circumstances that enable one to observe young children closely and passionately.

    • Colette,
    • Paris From My Window
    • ()
  • ... that wild, unknown being, the child, who is both bottomless pit and impregnable fortress ...

    • Colette,
    • "Look!" (1929), Gigi and Selected Writings ()
  • A Child of Happiness always seems like an old soul living in a new body, and her face is very serious until she smiles, and then the sun lights up the world. ... Children of Happiness always look not quite the same as other children. They have strong, straight legs and walk with purpose. They laugh as do all children, and they play as do all children, they talk child talk as do all children, but they are different, they are blessed, they are special, they are sacred.

  • Another resource for escaping blame is that of explaining that the children 'learn these things at school.' Presumably they do not mean from the teachers. It is 'from the other children,' who seem to be a most injurious class of society. It is their influence which makes our children so rude and so ungrammatical; and, strangely enough, though these other children never dine with our children, so subtle and far-reaching is their baleful influence that our children's defective manners at the table are directly traceable to the same evil source.

  • Most parents feel keenly the embarrassment of having the infant misbehave ... and they are apt to offer a tacit apology and a vague self-defense by sharply reprimanding the child in words that are meant to give the visitor the idea that they — the parents — never heard or saw such conduct before, and are now frozen with amazement.

  • The danger lies not in the big ears of little pitchers, but in the large mouths.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • Children have two visions, the inner and the outer. Of the two the inner vision is brighter.

  • I see the mind of a five-year-old as a volcano with two vents; destructiveness and creativeness.

  • I wish I might indulge more often in the luxury of tears. It should be, I think, one of the recompenses for the length of time one has to be a child.

  • The relationship of host and guest has always been a difficult one, hedged about with practical and spiritual problems. ... If you went to tea with Marmaduke, you were not allowed to take things away from him because, after all, they were his toys; but if Marmaduke came to tea with you, you had to give him everything he wanted because he was the visitor. ... you never again felt quite the same about Marmaduke.

  • ... few things are more rewarding than a child's open uncalculating devotion.

  • All schoolchildren are hostages to red tape and fiscal insufficiency.

  • Little children never know that they feel seasick, till they are.

    • Katharine Brush,
    • "Things I Have Learned in My Travels," This Is On Me ()
  • Out of the mouths of babes come things you wouldn't want your neighbors to hear.

    • Mrs. H. Meade,
    • in Leonard Louis Levinson, ed., Bartlett's Unfamiliar Quotations ()
  • ... there is no substitute for books in the life of a child.

  • ... children ... will put up with nothing that is unpleasant to them, without at least making a noise, which I do detest and dread; though I know mothers ought to 'get used to such things.' I have heard that eels get accustomed to being skinned, but I doubt the fact.

  • If we buy a plant of a horticulturist we ask him many questions as to its needs, whether it thrives best in sunshine or in shade, whether it needs much or little water, what degrees of heat or cold; but when we hold in our arms for the first time a being of infinite possibilities, in whose wisdom may rest the destiny of a nation, we take it for granted that the laws governing its life, health, and happiness are intuitively understood, that there is nothing new to be learned in regard to it.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.

  • ... children had no place in love affairs. Children ought to be born to widows and old maids.

  • Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction. They will educate themselves under right conditions.

  • It is a great mistake, I think, to put children off with falsehoods and nonsense, when their growing powers of observation and discrimination excite in them a desire to know about things.

  • I first foreswore motherhood when I was about eight years old. ... [Children] were annoying. We were loud and sneaky and broke things. As an eight-year-old, maybe I was simply mortified by the prospect of being saddled with myself.

    • Lionel Shriver,
    • "The Baby Stops Here," in Lori Leibovich, ed., Maybe Baby ()
  • I went to kindergarten as if into daily battle. There was only one respite: nap time, when we stretched out in rows of cots, like Civil War wounded.

  • It had not occurred to me that she would sleep in my room: I am eight and she is nearly eighty. ... I've acquired not the doting Nana of my dreams, but an aged kid sister. Within hours, the theft and rivalry begin.

  • Mrs. Stryker had no children; she always looked at them impersonally, as at a kind of unattractive bric-à-brac ...

  • Kids take up all available time — it's the basic law of parenthood. No matter how much time you give them, whether you work from eight to eight or are around the house all the time, you'll still feel you haven't been there enough for them.

  • Apprenticeship is one of the dearest roles of childhood, not just watching Dad or Mother, but being taught a hands-on trade.

    • Carol Bly,
    • "My Dear Republican Mother," in Constance Warloe, ed., I've Always Meant to Tell You ()
  • The six and one-fourth hours' television watching (the American average per day) which non-reading children do is what is called alpha-level learning. The mind needn't make any pictures since the pictures are provided, so the mind cuts current as low as it can.

  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

  • A surefire method of setting up regular communication with your kids is to get a job in an office which discourages personal phone calls. Your kids will then call you every hour on the hour.

  • My husband and I speak an ancient language called grammatical English, and the kids speak a strange dialect which is difficult to decode because it is based on only four phrases: 'Huh,' 'I dunno,' 'It's not my turn,' and 'I do everything around here!'

  • Neat as a freshly peeled Easter egg, / Just six years old, he sat, comme il faut, / In the French Lycée in Berlin ...

  • Examine the measure of your children's capacities, and leave none of them uncultivated. However modest you may be in dress and other expenditures for a person of your rank, consecrate all you have to your children's education.

  • Folks think that children will make up for all they ought to do and haven't done ...

  • He did not like children; he instinctively feared their honesty.

  • Other people's children, like other people's love affairs, were so much less interesting than one's own.

  • Children are great idealists, until the stupidity of their elders puts out the fires of the aspirations.

  • But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes.

  • Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury; the time spent engaged in it is not time that could be better spent in more formal educational pursuits. Play is a necessity.

  • Lord knows what incommunicable small terrors infants go through, unknown to all. We disregard them, we say they forget, because they have not the words to make us remember. ... By the time they learn to speak they have forgotten the details of their complaints, and so we never know. They forget so quickly, we say, because we cannot contemplate the fact that they never forget.

  • Only grown-ups think that the things children say come out of nowhere. We know they come from the deepest parts of ourselves.

  • We make butterflies by feeding caterpillars, not by trying to paste wings on them. Kids need to like themselves the way they are, and we can help them develop a positive self-image.

  • Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we'd had.

  • Bringing a child into the world is the greatest act of hope there is.

  • The Golden Rule of Parenting is: Do unto your children as you wish your parents had done unto you.

  • The best thing to spend on your children is your time.

  • Give the child good books, then let it alone! Don't plough and harrow its brain, or stretch it on Procrustes-beds of standardization, simplification, and what not!

  • ... I do not believe in confining children to things they understand. They want, and they need, the thing they do not understand.

  • Parents have too little respect for their children, just as the children have too much for the parents.

  • Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society.

  • It is a cowardly abuse of power to ill-treat a child.

  • [On children's books:] Children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they see themselves and windows through which they see the world.

  • Children are caterpillars and adults are butterflies. No butterfly ever remembers what it felt like being a caterpillar.

  • ... the highest priority for any government concerned with its own future and the peace of the world community ought to be the facilities it provides for the care and nurturance of young children.

  • Every time a child is born, we have another chance.

  • We found ... that being a good parent to one's own child was never and in no way enough; until we were all responsible for all the children of the world, no child would ever be safe, no society could survive.

  • We all wanted babies — but did any of us want children?

  • But children can't be a center of life and a reason for being. They can be a thousand things that are delightful, interesting, satisfying, but they can't be a well-spring to live from. Or they shouldn't be.

  • Is there any delight as great as the child's discovering ability?

  • It is my belief that children are full of understanding and know as much as and more than adults, until they are about seven, when they suddenly become stupid, like adults.

  • Children are not born knowing the many opportunities that are theirs for the taking. Someone who does know must tell them.

  • If we give our children books in childhood that will help to free their minds, hearts and imaginations, and in adolescence books that give not only vicarious experience, but new vistas; if we see that they are equipped with the knowledge that will give them access to the feast, then we will have done our part to make them the kind of people who, no matter what crises they face, what minor prisons they may know, will emerge 'much less sad, perhaps a little wiser and full of hope.'

  • In the last analysis civilization itself is measured by the way in which children will live and what chance they will have in the world.

  • You will find as the children grow up that as a rule children are a bitter disappointment — their greatest object being to do precisely what their parents do not wish and have anxiously tried to prevent.

  • [Taking her new stepchild in her arms and exclaiming with many kisses on eyes and cheeks:] Surely thou wast stolen from me!

  • It is frequently said that children do not know the value of money. This is only partially true. They do not know the value of your money. Their money, they know the value of.

  • We expect too much from our children. We exact from them a perfection which we are far from carrying out in ourselves; we require of them sacrifices much heavier, comparatively, than those of any grown-up person.

  • Children are gifts, if we accept them.

  • In this era of affluence and of permissiveness, we have, in all but cultural areas, bred a nation of overprivileged youngsters, saturated with vitamins, television and plastic toys. But they are nurtured from infancy on a Dick-and-Jane literary and artistic level; and the cultural drought, as far as entertainment is concerned, sets in when they are between six and eight.

  • ... I felt the vulnerability, the fragility of the children of the world, and how it was, nonetheless, on their frail shoulders that we loaded the weight of our weary hopes and eternal new beginnings.

  • We have thought that because children are young they are silly. We have forgotten the blind stirrings, the reaching outward of our own youth.

  • Being constantly with the children was like wearing a pair of shoes that were expensive and too small. She couldn't bear to throw them out, but they gave her blisters.

  • Why didn't children ever see that they could damage and harm their parents as much as parents could damage and harm children?

  • The act of choosing whether or not to have a child is often an act of love, and always an act of survival.

  • ... our golden opportunity with children lies in recognition and appreciation of their individual differences developed and fused with a social purpose. We do not in our gardens try to make a calendula into a rose. We try to learn the needs of calendulas and help them grow into the best calendulas possible. If we are true gardeners we have a sort of uprush of happiness in the individual beauty of each variety of flower ...

  • What feeling in all the world is so nice as that of a child's hand in yours? It is soft. It is small and warm. It is as innocent and guileless as a rabbit or a puppy or a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp.

  • Kids? It's like living with homeless people. They're cute but they just chase you around all day long going, 'Can I have a dollar? I'm missing a shoe! I need a ride!'

    • Kathleen Madigan,
    • in Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves, One Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh? ()
  • Children are like puppies: you have to keep them near you, and look after them, if you want their affection.

  • If only we could have them back as babies today, now that we have some idea what to do with them.

  • One of the blessings that comes with parental territory is that children tug you into experiences you're pretty sure you'd never otherwise contemplate.

  • My boredom threshold is low at the best of times but I have spent more time being slowly and excruciatingly bored by children than any other section of the human race.

  • ... the most important thing one can do for children is not accept the limitations they are so willing to impose on themselves.

    • Ruth Simmons,
    • in Marlo Thomas and Friends, The Right Words at the Right Time ()
  • The precocious child is the normal child.

  • If we aren't careful, our children will come down with 'affluenza,' a disease that causes them to confuse wants and needs. We need to teach our children what my grandmother taught me: Think twice about spending money you don't have on things you don't need to impress people you don't like anyway.

  • My dogs, the only creatures on the planet marked by my singular nurturing imprint, have all turned out to be rude and self-absorbed. In all likelihood, if they were children instead of dogs, I would have foisted more Charlie Sheens or Kardashians onto our crumbling culture.

    • Merrill Markoe,
    • "Why I Never Had a Kid," in Henriette Mantel, ed., No Kidding: Women Writing on Bypassing Parenthood ()
  • The traditional rules for having children are long gone. Some days I feel like the harder choice is to not have a kid.

    • Henriette Mantel,
    • "The Morning Dance," in Henriette Mantel, ed., No Kidding: Women Writing on Bypassing Parenthood ()
  • [On deciding not to have children:] Yes, there is a little sadness ... But there's also a little sadness around the fact I may never get to go to the moon. Jeez, you can't do everything in this lifetime.

    • Henriette Mantel,
    • "The Morning Dance," in Henriette Mantel, ed., No Kidding: Women Writing on Bypassing Parenthood ()
  • [At age 4:] Why am I not a grown-up? I've been here for so many years.

    • Laura Owen,
    • in Lisa Birnbach et al., 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older ()
  • I don't think that children, if left to themselves, feel that there is an author behind a book, a somebody who wrote it. Grown-ups have fostered this quotient of identity, particularly teachers. Write a letter to your favorite author and so forth. When I was a child I never realized that there were authors behind books. Books were there as living things, with identities of their own.

  • The grief of a child is always terrible. It is bottomless, without hope. A child has no past and no future. It just lives in the present moment — wholeheartedly. If the present moment spells disaster, the child suffers it with his whole heart, his whole soul, his whole strength, his whole little being ...

  • Physical punishment, such as spanking, teaches a toddler that might makes right and that it is fine to hit when one is stronger and can get away with it.

  • The recognition of personal separateness — of others having their own concepts, different from his, because they see things from their position and condition as individuals and not from his own — is not ordinarily possible before a child is seven. Immaturity in adults reveals itself clearly in the retention of this infantile orientation.

  • Little children do not distinguish as we do between an inner fantasy and an outer 'reality.' For them, experience of both kinds has the same quality of actual event.

  • But who knows their own child? You know bits — certain predictable reactions, a handful of familiar qualities. The rest is impenetrable. And quite right too. You give birth to them. You do not design them.

  • One hour with a child is like a ten-mile run.

  • ... Indians still consider the whites a brutal people who treat their children like enemies — playthings, too, coddling them like pampered pets or fragile toys, but underneath always like enemies, enemies that must be restrained, bribed, spied upon, and punished. They believe that children so treated will grow up as dependent and immature as pets and toys, and as angry and dangerous as enemies within the family circle, to be appeased and fought.

  • The first right of every child is to be wanted, to be desired, to be planned for with an intensity of love that gives it its title to being.

  • Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than two children at most. The average working man can support no more and the average working woman can take care of no more in decent fashion.

  • Every child's birthright is a happy home.

  • [On writing her first poem at age eight:] An ode to my dead mother and father, who were both alive and pretty pissed off.

  • There is no suffering like a child's, terrified by a secret which it dare not for some reason disclose.

  • ... all children blackmail their parents with their innocence.

    • Joanne Greenberg,
    • "On Tiptoe They Must Leave, the Pious of Israel," High Crimes and Misdemeanors ()
  • Bringing up children is not a real occupation, because children come up just the same, brought or not.

  • ... when I walk into an apartment with books on the shelves, books on the bedside tables, books on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says Private — grownups keep out: a children sprawled on the bed, reading.

  • Physical and mental growth come best where the individual is not hampered by the pressure of other personalities. The trend today of the nursery school to socialize the child may in the future turn back a hundred years to giving the young organism an untrammeled place to develop without outside pressure.

  • The children are always the chief victims of social chaos.

  • Books, to the reading child, are so much more than books — they are dreams and knowledge, they are a future, and a past ...

  • As the most recently arrived to earthly life, children can seem in lingering possession of some heavenly lidless eye.

  • Children, together with women, constitute 90 percent of all refugee populations on the planet as well as the vast majority of those living in absolute poverty: the 'feminization of poverty' means that children are poor, too, since most parenting is done by mothers.

  • Trusting children and books is a revolutionary act. Books are, after all, dangerous stuff. Leave a child alone with a book and you don't know what might happen.

  • It didn't take elaborate experiments to deduce that an infant would die from want of food. But it took centuries to figure out that infants can and do perish from want of love.

  • The wings of youth are easily injured — indeed they are.

    • Sok-kyong Kang,
    • "A Room in the Woods," in Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton, trans., Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers ()
  • Learning to deal with setbacks, and maintaining the persistence and optimism necessary for childhood's long road to mastery are the real foundations of lasting self-esteem.

    • Lilian G. Katz,
    • "Reading, Writing, Narcissism," in The New York Times ()
  • Children do not see themselves as shocking or surprising and do not want other people to do so.

  • I have often noticed that spoiled, petted children, usually have very little love for their parents, or indeed for any one but themselves.

  • It is our incompetence in communicating love, not our lack of love that drives children crazy. Most of us love our children. What we lack is a language that conveys love, that mirrors our delight — and that makes a child feel loved, respected and appreciated.

    • Alice Ginott,
    • "How to Drive Your Children Sane," Ladies' Home Journal ()
  • As far as the education of children is concerned I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but love for one's neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.

  • Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that supposed to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.

  • Everywhere, everywhere, children are the scorned people of the earth.

    • Toni Morrison,
    • in Charles Ruas, Conversations With American Writers ()
  • Two parents can't raise a child any more than one. You need a whole community — everybody — to raise a child. And the little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn't work. It doesn't work for white people or for black people. Why are we hanging onto it, I don't know. It isolates people into little units — people need a larger unit.

  • ... fantasizing is one of the earliest languages in the child's mind. We are in touch with our imagination and dreams before we engage with logic and reason.

  • All the wisdom in the world cannot put in one's heart the love one yearned for as a small child.

  • All words belong to children. They choose them for their own use by the simple process of taking possession of the ones they need to express what they want to say. If children do not hear speech that has variety and liveliness, and if their books do not have unfamiliar words tucked in like bright little surprises among the everyday ones, how in the world are they ever to accumulate a store of language to draw on, as new experiences and sensations increase the need and desire to communicate with the people they live with?

  • Reading, for young children, is rarely a pleasure in isolation, but comes through shared pleasure and constant discerning exposure to books so that they fall naturally into the category of pleasant necessities, along with food, sleep, music and all out-of-doors.

  • Most fruits, if left alone on a tree, eventually do ripen, especially if they're not being yelled at.

  • [On her troubled relationships with her daughters:] You can acquire enemies. Why give birth to them?

  • ... whereas in childhood ... it was the parents' judgement that mattered to the child, later on the situation becomes reversed: it is then that the opinions of one's grown-up children become what matters, as well as their kindness.

  • It is always easier, however, to manipulate the child to fit the theory than to adjust the theory to suit the child — provided, of course, one is very careful not to look at the child.

  • Being a child is largely a flux of bold and furtive guesswork, fixed ideas continually dislodged by scrambling and tentative revision ... All our energy and cunning go into getting our bearings without letting on that we are ignorant and lost.

  • The welfare of a child is everybody's business.

  • It is a spiritually impoverished nation that permits infants and children to be the poorest Americans.

  • Children cannot eat rhetoric and they cannot be sheltered by commissions. I don't want to see another commission that studies the needs of kids. We need to help them.

  • Women without children are also the best of mothers, often, with the patience, interest, and saving grace that the constant relationship with children cannot always sustain. I come to crave our talk and our daughters gain precious aunts. Women who are not mothering their own children have the clarity and focus to see deeply into the character of children webbed by family. A child is fortunate who feels witnessed as a person, outside relationships with parents, by another adult.

  • When they were wild / When they were not yet human / When they could have been anything, / I was on the other side ready with milk to lure them, / And their father, too, each name a net in his hands.

  • The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher, then suddenly they disappear.

  • ... children once settled and confident can mostly be left, it seems, to manage their difficulties without us. Only what we must do, always and unalterably, is hold their hand firmly in general goodwill, then they themselves seem to deal with their own particular troubles far better than we can.

  • ... children are not undeveloped versions of adult people: they are a different race of beings: they are children.

  • The sorrows of children are profound and unsuspected ...

  • If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

    • Dorothy Law Nolte,
    • in Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris, Children Learn What They Live ()
  • If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. / If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. / If children live with fear, they will learn to be apprehensive. / If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. / If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. / If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. / If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. / If children live with encouragement, they will learn confidence. / If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

  • ... our sons and daughters are only passing through. ... If we are lucky, they always will consider our home their harbor, but they are headed out to the open sea, almost from the first.

  • As the youngsters grow attached to their teachers and classmates ... they can finally say good-bye to their mothers without re-enacting the death scene from Camille.

  • I love children, especially when they cry, because then somebody takes them away.

  • ... it may be said that children are but newly-issued editions of old compositions, re-bound and corrected, with fresh introductions, modern print and headpieces, but the text is that of former editions handed down from generation to generation.

  • ... kids are like sponges — they absorb all your strength and leave you limp, but give them a squeeze and you get it all back!

  • Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.

  • To have children is a double living, the earthly fountain of youth, a continual fresh delight, a volcano as well as a fountain, and also a source of weariness beyond description ...

    • Josephine Johnson,
    • "A Time for Everything," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • The little dog-eared books in the meeting-house proved poor reading ... So many of them were about unnaturally good children who never did wrong, and unnaturally bad children who never did right. At the end there was always the word MORAL, in big capital letters, as if the readers were supposed to be too blind to find it for themselves, and it had to be put directly across the path for them to stumble over.

  • Children are no different from other people. They're just shorter.

    • Inger Stevens,
    • in John Robert Colombo, Popcorn in Paradise ()
  • An only child is never twelve.

  • [Children] use up the same part of my head as poetry does. To deal with children is a matter of terrific imaginative identification. And the children have to come first. It's no use putting off their evening meal for two months.

    • Libby Houston,
    • in Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler, A Feminist Dictionary ()
  • God sends children for another purpose than merely to keep up the race — to enlarge our hearts, to make us unselfish, and full of kindly sympathies and affections; to give our souls higher aims, and to call out all our faculties to extended enterprise and exertion ...

  • ... in the annals of tearjerkers about losing a child, there is no movie to match Terms of Endearment. People who have never lost a child weep uncontrollably. People who have never had a child weep uncontrollably. It's like the nuclear weapon of dead children cinema.

  • ... not only have children most certainly a right to their own ambitions, but their own lack of ambitions.

  • ... the truly beneficent mind looks upon every child of sorrow as their relation, and entitled to their assistance ...

  • Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath and hope we've set aside enough money for our kids' therapy.

  • Who knows the thoughts of a child?

  • So much art — so little refrigerator space.

  • There is a fifth child who lives at our house called 'Nobody.' ... 'Nobody' breaks windows, eats the frosting off cakes before company comes, leaves gallon boxes of ice cream on the kitchen counter before we leave the house for three hours, and delights in parking bicycles behind the car. 'Nobody' puts crayons in the clothes dryer and is not even tax-deductible!

  • Loving a baby or child is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give, the more you get, the more you get, the more you feel like giving.

  • Whatever you do to your child's body, you are doing to your child's mind.

  • Children do not need superhuman, perfect parents. They have always managed with good enough parents: the parents they happened to have.

  • When one has children one has no privacy. They take it for granted that what is yours is theirs, personal things and the secrets of your heart, as well as possessions.

  • And the children go to summer camp / And then to the university / Where they are put in boxes / And they come out all the same.

  • Children are monsters of unbridled egotism and will, for they spring directly from nature, hostile intimations of immorality.

  • Well, you have children so you know: little children little troubles, big children, big troubles — it's a saying in Yiddish. Maybe the Chinese said it too.

    • Grace Paley,
    • "Zagrowsky Tells," Later the Same Day ()
  • Ours is the first society in history in which parents expect to learn from their children, rather than the other way around. Such a topsy-turvy situation has come about at least in part because, unlike the rest of the world, we are an immigrant society, and for immigrants the only hope is in the kids.

  • I bought ... the pins with my three daughters in mind; the ships are beautiful, graceful, and moving along at full sail, having long since left home port.

  • A positive way / To create animosity: / Extoll at great length / Our children's precocity.

    • Mary Alkus,
    • "Parental Prerogative," in The Rotarian ()
  • Never do for a child what he is capable of doing for himself.

  • ... many tender, delicate mothers, seem to think that to make their children eat, is all that is requisite to make them great.

  • It is not the correct thing to scold children for asking questions: this is about as reasonable as to scold them for breathing or thinking.

  • Ricky had the newly made look peculiar to little boys in bed. His dark hair hung sweetly over his forehead, his eyes shone and his cheeks and lips were brilliant. One would have said he was so new that his colours had not yet dried.

  • For a long time we kept our bed off-limits to nighttime intruders, but inevitably, security was breached because it was just easier to haul the child in with us and go back to sleep. All those pathetic things young children say — 'I'm afraid' or 'I can't sleep' or 'I'm cold' — are actually part of a subconscious plot of theirs to prevent you from hatching any more siblings.

  • The more love you give your children, the more love you are helping them to create inside themselves. Think of love as a basic right of your kids. Give it away freely, and it will come back a thousand fold.

  • Because children see parents as authority figures and gods, they think that the way you treat them is the way they deserve to be treated. 'What you say about me is what I am' is a literal truth to your child. Consequently, when children are treated with respect, they conclude that they deserve respect and hence develop self-respect.

  • Every family should extend first amendment rights to all its members, but this freedom is particularly essential for our kids. Children must be able to say what they think, openly express their feelings, and ask for what they want and need if they are ever able to develop an integrated sense of self.

  • A child is a child in any country, whatever the politics. Let's get down to basics. That's what a child forces you to do. Nothing else much matters, there is no complicated diplomacy, when a child is starving. It's simple. And we'd better do something about it. For our sakes, too. That is, if we want to continue to call ourselves human.

    • Audrey Hepburn,
    • in Diana Maychick, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait ()
  • I will not rest until no child goes hungry. All is possible.

    • Audrey Hepburn,
    • in Diana Maychick, Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait ()
  • I want to adopt a child. Not a baby, one with a job.

  • Kids want acceptance from their peers, but in two different, opposing ways: They want to be like everyone else and they want to be different from everyone else. So the question is: How do you reconcile these opposing longings?

  • Once the children were in the house the air became more vivid and more heated; every object in the house grew more alive.

  • It is better to give children a rule to break than to give them no rules at all.

  • Children were like NASA rockets: You poured money and time into them, but there was no guarantee they wouldn't veer off course seconds after blastoff.

  • ... it's the mark of a successful parent to be able to send out one's young to enjoy the world without them having to give you a backward glance. The security of a loving background helps to create a child who is healthily selfish in its attitude to its parents.

  • That's the nature of being a parent .... You love your children far more than you ever loved your parents, and — in that love, and in the recognition that your own children cannot fathom the depth of your love — you come to understand the tragic, unrequited love of your own parents.

  • Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.

  • It seems to me that the most fundamental mistake most parents make with children is to expect them to be grateful. Children are never grateful. ... The 'sacrifices' you made were not for them, they were for you.

    • Billie Burke,
    • with Cameron Shipp, With Powder on My Nose ()
  • If I could say just one thing to parents, it would be simply that a child needs someone who believes in him no matter what he does.

  • There are days and weeks, as we all have learned, when only sex and good manners hold a marriage together. With a child there is only good manners.

    • Marguerite Kelly,
    • in Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac ()
  • Each child has one extra line to your heart, which no other child can replace.

    • Marguerite Kelly,
    • in Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac ()
  • ... we decided that our kids were going to be our best friends and that we never could see too much of them.

    • Rose Kennedy,
    • 1939, in Laurence Leamer, The Kennedy Women ()
  • In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.

  • Children have an uncanny way of living up — or down — to what is expected of them.

  • Parents do not owe their progeny an inheritance no matter how much money they have. One of the surest ways to produce loafers and freeloaders is to let children know that their future is assured.

  • ... there was a push-pull to the arrangement that she hadn't bargained for: what happens if you build a bridge for your children and they actually cross it?

  • Before kids, I actually held on to the illusion that there was some sense of order to the universe.

  • Them that's got shall get, / Them that's not shall lose / So the Bible says, / And it still is news. / Mama may have, Papa may have, / But God bless the child that's got his own.

    • Billie Holiday,
    • with Arthur Herzog, Jr., song, "God Bless the Child" ()
  • If you think your children will be perfect, you're probably still looking at their sonogram.

  • Little girl, little boy, / with the cornrowed style / let me see your pretty face, / let me see your handsome smile.

  • As an incentive to industry, enterprise and thrift, there isn't anything that can beat twins.

  • The children are the dumplings / set afloat ... Wrap the children / in wonton skins, bright quilted bundles.

  • Being certain I would die in my sleep, I used to knock on my parents' door at 4 a.m. and announce my heart had stopped beating. They always assured me I was both alive and unpopular.

    • Hayley Mills,
    • in Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex-Fan Magazine Writer ()
  • There are two kinds of kids: those that grow up and become lawyers and those that need them. I have both kinds.

    • Marilyn Kentz,
    • in Caryl Kristensen and Marilyn Kentz, The Mother Load ()
  • Children who can't get themselves out of bed on a school day will be up by 5 a.m. to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

    • Lea Rush,
    • in Lisa Cofield, Debbie Dingerson, and Lea Rush, Mrs. Murphy's Laws ()
  • ... what is good for our children is good for our nation.

  • ... children are made of eyes and ears, and nothing, however minute, escapes their microscopic observation.

  • [On children's inner needs:] ... they say, 'Help me to do it alone.'

  • Children need admiration rather than affection.

  • Children are 'childish,' which is a negative adjective marking something an adult should not be. Being a grown-up is imagined as separating from what is childish by denigrating it and calling it shameful.

  • That word bedtime is always a damper to juvenile spirits. In all those early years of life the idea of bed is pretty much what the idea of Portland or Dartmoor is to the criminal classes. Children hear their elders talk of wanting to go to bed, and wonder at such a perverted taste. There is always a sense of humiliation in that premature banishment.

  • Schools have a kind of power over their students that most American adults will never experience until they enter a hospital, or old age home, an institution, or a prison.

  • Have you ever tried to talk to a baby or a toddler? They never look you square in the eyes, they know about three words, and God forbid they ever ask you how you're doing. It's all about them!

  • The truest expression of personal freedom that this life can offer is the experience of giving birth to children, raising them, and then traveling without them.

  • They caught all the wild children, / and put them in zoos, / They made them do sums / and wear sensible shoes. / They put them to bed / at the wrong time of day, / And made them sit still / when they wanted to play. / They scrubbed them with soap / and they made them eat peas. / They made them behave and / say pardon and please. / They took all their wisdom / and wildness away. / That's why there are none / in the forests today.

  • Today women live long into their children's adult lives ... too little is made of the pleasure we women feel in conversing with our grown children, and in allowing ourselves, from time to time, to think of them as friends. I have been fortunate in having children with whom conversation is possible; the sheerest pleasure here, for me, has been in meeting with them each alone ...

  • ... th' two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way — or always to have it.

  • So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.

  • Sure it's simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up.

  • A children's writer should, ideally, be a dedicated semi-lunatic, a kind of poet with a marvelous idea, who, preferably, when not committing the marvellous idea to paper, does something else of a quite different kind, so as to acquire new and rich experience.

  • By providing cheap and wholesome reading for the young, we have partly succeeded in driving from the field that which was positively bad; yet nothing is easier than to overdo a reformation, and, through the characteristic indulgence of American parents, children are drugged with a literature whose chief merit is its harmlessness.

  • Books that children read but once are of scant service to them; those that have really helped to warm our imaginations and to train our faculties are the few old friends we know so well that they have become a portion of our thinking selves.

  • I cannot, will not, withhold from my young readers the harsh realities of human hunger and suffering and loss, but neither will I neglect to plant that stubborn seed of hope that has enabled our race to outlast wars and famines and the destruction of death.

  • When people ask me what qualifies me to be a writer for children, I say I was once a child. But I was not only a child, I was, better still, a weird little kid, and though I would never choose to give my own children this particular preparation for life, there are few things, apparently, more helpful to a writer than having once been a weird little kid.

  • He [an earnest young reporter] seemed to share the view of many intelligent, well-educated, well-meaning people that, while adult literature may aim to be art, the object of children's books is to whip the little rascals into shape.

  • A good story is alive, ever changing and growing as it meets each listener or reader in a spirited and unique encounter, while the moralistic tale is not only dead on arrival, it's already been embalmed. It's safer that way. When a lively story goes dancing out to meet the imagination of a child, the teller loses control over meaning. The child gets to decide what the story means.

  • There is nothing more important than writing well for the young, if literature is to have a continuance ... They will inherit the earth; and nothing that we value will endure in the world unless they can be persuaded to value it too.

  • The characters in a children's book must reach into the heart of the reader on page one. Emotional content is the main reason a child and a parent will go back to a book again and again.

    • Rosemary Wells,
    • in William Zinsser, ed., Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children ()
  • The only books that work are those which fly through the air — the ones you let happen, not make happen.

    • Rosemary Wells,
    • in William Zinsser, ed., Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children ()
  • When I am grappling with ideas which are radical enough to upset grown-ups, then I am likely to put these ideas into a story which will be marketed for children, because children understand what their parents have rejected and forgotten.

  • ... if a book is not good enough for a grownup, it is not good enough for a child.

  • To write for children at all is an act of faith.

  • ... if I have something I want to say that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children. ...

  • If it's not good enough for adults, it's not good enough for children.

  • I do not believe in guilt, moderation or dull pencils.

  • What I use from my own life is not the facts, it's the emotion. It's how I felt about something. It has nothing to do with facts at all. You can get those anywhere. It's the feelings of childhood that you need to know.

  • [On children's books:] Children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they see themselves and windows through which they see the world.

  • Children are not born knowing the many opportunities that are theirs for the taking. Someone who does know must tell them.

  • If we give our children books in childhood that will help to free their minds, hearts and imaginations, and in adolescence books that give not only vicarious experience, but new vistas; if we see that they are equipped with the knowledge that will give them access to the feast, then we will have done our part to make them the kind of people who, no matter what crises they face, what minor prisons they may know, will emerge 'much less sad, perhaps a little wiser and full of hope.'

  • When awards are given for children's books, the books that win tend not only to be admirably well written but also to contain at least one Wise and Good Grown-Up or Grown-Up Equivalent ... Moral and emotional lessons are taught, and there is a warm relationship between the young people and an adult. The books children choose for themselves typically feature a group of kids who face dangers, have exciting adventures and help and instruct one another. Any adults who are important in the story are apt to be villains. If there are well-meaning parents and teachers around, they have no idea what really goes on in their absence ...

  • Most of the great works of juvenile literature are subversive in one way or another: they express ideas and emotions not generally approved of or even recognized at the time; they make fun of honored figures and piously held beliefs; and they view social pretenses with clear-eyed directness, remarking — as in Andersen's famous tale — that the emperor has no clothes.

  • Only as we give the children the truth about life can we expect any improvement in it.

  • Over and over again women and men ... come to me saying, I don't know enough to write a book for adults, and so I'd like to try a book for children. And I tell them that when they have learned enough to write for an adult perhaps a child will listen to them.

  • ... I loved The Wind in the Willows. ... Walt Disney should be sued for cheapening it as he did. Imagine it, Mickey Mousing all those nice characters. I'm surprised he didn't do it with the New Testament.

    • Tasha Tudor,
    • in Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown, The Private World of Tasha Tudor ()
  • You do not chop off a section of your imaginative substance and make a book specifically for children, for — if you are honest — you have, in fact, no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins. It is all endless and all one.

  • Children's books are looked on as a sideline of literature. A special smile. They are usually thought to be associated with women. I was determined not to have this label of sentimentality put on me so I signed by my intials, hoping people wouldn't bother to wonder if the books were written by a man, woman or kangaroo.

    • P.L. Travers,
    • in Haskel Frankel, "A Rose for Mary Poppins," Saturday Review ()
  • ... the first light of literature on a young mind does more than illumine. A torch of glory descends, and that mind can never be truly dark again.

  • I don't know any children's book publishing people who have a Rolls Royce ...

    • Ursula Nordstrom,
    • 1974, in Leonard S. Marcus, ed., Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom ()
  • [When questioned about her credentials as a children's book editor:] Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing.

    • Ursula Nordstrom,
    • in Leonard S. Marcus, ed., Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom ()
  • If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.

  • We believe in books. Somehow we want to make childhood better, and we believe that a book given at the right moment can work magic in a child's life.

    • Ann Schlee,
    • in Barbara Harrison et al., Innocence and Experience: Essays and Conversations on Children's Literature ()
  • ... a good deal of childhood is strong stuff for adults and totally unsuitable for children.

  • The children's writer not only makes a satisfactory connection between his present maturity and his past childhood, he also does the same for his child-characters in reverse — makes the connection between their present childhood and their future maturity. That their maturity is never visibly achieved makes no difference; the promise of it is there.

  • Not since Harriet the Spy have I been without a book in my hands.

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

  • Realism is a very sophisticated form of literature, a very grown-up one. And that may be its weakness. But fantasy seems to be eternal and omnipresent and always attractive to kids.

  • I don't want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read.