One-liners to live by from beloved children's books

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Anna Brech
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Adult fiction is all well and good, but sometimes we need the simple truths of childhood reads to give us a steer in life

When the going gets tough, the tough retreat to the balm of much-loved childhood reads.

There’s something about the books we grew up with that have the power to completely transport us. When all else fails, we can rely on the magical words of Roald Dahl or Astrid Lindgren for a little comfort and escapism. 

So, as you look to the year ahead this Christmas (preferably with a giant vat of Quality Streets in tow), take some wisdom from these truisms from timeless children’s stories: 

On authenticity

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

On helping others

“By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White 

On gumption

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

On reaching out

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

On open-mindedness

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 

The Minipins by Roald Dahl

On self-belief

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

On gratitude

“Love Jo all your days, if you choose, but don’t let it spoil you, for it’s wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can’t have the one you want.”

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

On courage

“Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.”

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On savouring life

“How could anyone not want to live, thought Will, when there were so many things to live for? there were rainy nights and wind and the slap of the sea and the moon. There were books to read and pictures to paint and music.”

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

On accepting change

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

On living your truth

“I know now it is children who accept life; grown people cover it up and pretend it is different with drinks.”

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden

On friendship

“It’ll be all right, my fine fellow,” said the Otter. “I’m coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there’s a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.”

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

On self-belief

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

On trusting your instincts

“Trying not to believe things when in your heart you are almost sure they are true, is as bad for the temper as anything I know.”

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

On spirit

“Don’t you worry about me. I’ll always come out on top.”

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Images: Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.