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“Marley was dead, to begin with.”

This short, punchy line opens Charles Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

But Lewis Carroll took his time with the beginning of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. “Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?'”

Masterful authors of children’s books grab their readers immediately with intriguing openings that make readers want to find out what happens next. Think of books you loved as a kid. I bet like many readers some powerful or heartfelt first sentences have lodged in your mind forever.

In our workbook that I wrote with my writing partner Shirley Raye Redmond, Write a Marketable Children’s Book, we offer more tips on openings in “How to Hook ‘Em and Tantalize.”

Best Opening Lines of Kids Books!

“Kidnapping children is never a good idea; all the same, sometimes it has to be done.” ISLAND OF THE AUNTS, EVA IBBOTSON

“One spring morning at four o’clock the first cuckoo arrived in the Valley of the Moomins.” FINN FAMILY MOOMINTROLL, TOVE JANSSON

“Laura’s baby brother George was four weeks old when it happened.” GEORGE SPEAKS, DICK KING-SMITH

“In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived 12 little girls, in two straight lines.” MADELINE BY LUDWIG BEMELMANS

 “Once upon a time there was a huge family of children; and they were terribly, terribly naughty.” THE NURSE MATILDA, CHRISTIANNA BRAND

“This is how the story begins. On a dark, dark hill, there was a dark, dark town.” FUNNYBONES, JANET AHLBERG, ALLAN AHLBERG

“There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” HOLES BY LOUIS SACHAR

“Once upon a time, there was a pair of pants.” THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS BY ANN BRASHARES

“It was seven minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed.” THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, MARK HADDON

“Anna was walking home from school with Elsbeth, a girl in her class. A lot of snow had fallen in Berlin that winter. It did not melt, so the street cleaners had swept it to the edge of the pavement, and there it had lain for weeks in sad, greying heaps.” WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT, JUDITH KERR

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” THE CAT IN THE HAT BY DR. SEUSS

“Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong.” THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD BY WATTY PIPER

 “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE BY J.K. ROWLING

“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.” THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER BY BARBARA ROBINSON

“In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.” THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR BY ERIC CARLE

“On Thursday, when Imogene woke up, she found she had grown antlers.” IMOGENE’S ANTLERS BY DAVID SMALL

“Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible.” NANCY DREW: THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK BY CAROLYN KEENE

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” FEED BY M.T. ANDERSON

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.” THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. C.S. LEWIS AND CHRIS VAN ALLSBURG

“On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.” SEVEN WONDERS BOOK 1: THE COLOSSUS RISES BY PETER LERANGIS

 “First of all, let me get something straight: this is a journal, not a diary.” DIARY OF A WIMPY KID BY JEFF KINNEY

“It was a dark and stormy night.” A WRINKLE IN TIME BY MADELEINE L’ENGLE

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS BY LEMONY SNICKET

“My dad and I live in an airport.” FLY AWAY HOME BY EVE BUNTING

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” CHARLOTTE’S WEB BY E.B. WHITE

“If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it.” THE TEACHER’S FUNERAL BY RICHARD PECK

“Not every 13-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.” THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE BY AVI

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” THE HOBBIT BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN

“Things are a lot different around here since that Unicorn moved in.” UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT BY BOB SHEA

Opening lines can be a great way to get the reader right where you want them to be.