Give Your Children’s Book an Opening that Grabs the Reader

Give Your Children’s Book an Opening that Grabs the Reader

“Marley was dead, to begin with.” This short, punchy line is the first sentence in A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens.

But Lewis Carroll took his time with the opening 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?'”

No matter the length of the opening, masterful authors grab the reader’s attention immediately. They beguile the reader into wanting to find out what happens next. In our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks, we offer a section on “How to Hook ‘Em and Tantalize.” You’ll learn what makes a good opening in a children’s book and find many writing tips to guide and inspire you.  And to inspire you even more, consider these well-crafted opening lines:

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

“Laura’s baby brother George was four weeks old when it happened.”

“The swirling rain-clouds rushed on revealing the bright moon, and the two Borribles dodged behind the bushes and kept as quiet as they could.”

“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

“Once upon a time there was a pair of pants.”

“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

“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, CAROLYN KEENE

What are your favorite first sentences in children’s books? Please drop us a line and let us know.


  • Rebecca
    Posted at 16:45h, 03 May Reply

    Thanks for the great advice!

    • Jennifer McKerley
      Posted at 18:20h, 03 May Reply

      You’re welcome. What kind of children’s books do you write? Funny ones, I assume from your website.

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