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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Childhood


Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly," 1801

Those things which are earliest impressed upon our minds cling to them the most tenaciously. ~L. Frank Baum, 1899

I often think of the time when we were all young... how naturally we lived, how we bounded along — we seldom walked — don't you remember it? Why did we go tripping over the ground, do you suppose? Because of the lightness of our hearts. I, for one, hope never to outgrow my childhood. ~Alwyn M. Thurber, Quaint Crippen, 1896

Childhood was a happy dream, full of sweet unconsciousness. ~Anonymous freshman college student, "The Grown-up World," c.1916

CHILDHOOD, n.  The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth — two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age. ~Ambrose Bierce

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it, — if it were not the earth where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass... ~George Eliot

For it was in that house that I was born; it was in that garden I first learned, while playing, to feel and know some particles of this old universe. Magical hours! — sacred hours! — when the soul, all fresh from the making, first discovers the world, which for its sake seems to assume such caressing brightness, such mysterious charm! And that, Madame, is indeed because the universe itself is only the reflection of our soul. ~Anatole France, Le crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881, translated by Lafcadio Hearn, 1890

These gods looked down on us and smiled
To see how utterly a child
By simple things may be beguiled
      To happiness and laughter;
It warmed their kindly hearts to see
The joy of Bill and John and me
From ten to lunch, from lunch to tea,
      From tea to six or after.
~A. A. Milne, "The Two Visits: 1888, 1919"

Childhood is the fiery furnace in which we are melted down to essentials and that essential shaped for good. ~Katherine Anne Porter

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. ~Graham Greene

When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood. ~Sam Ewing, unverified

In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in. ~Robert Brault,

The greatest poem ever known
      Is one all poets have outgrown:
      The poetry, innate, untold,
      Of being only four years old.
Still young enough to be a part
      Of Nature's great impulsive heart,
      Born comrade of bird, beast and tree
      And unselfconscious as the bee—
And yet with lovely reason skilled
      Each day new paradise to build,
      Elate explorer of each sense,
      Without dismay, without pretence!...
And Life, that sets all things in rhyme,
      May make you poet, too, in time—
      But there were days, O tender elf,
      When you were Poetry itself!
~Christopher Morley, "To a Child," 1921

Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected? ~Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Ye golden hours of Life's young spring,
      Of innocence, of love and truth!
Bright, beyond all imagining,
      Thou fairy-dream of youth!
I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
      The slow results of Life's decay,
To be once more a little child
      For one bright summer-day.
~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude," 1853

It felt good to lie on mother's shoulder and chokingly sob away all the misunderstandings of one little life — a life trusting and simple, which saw the Light and lived in it. ~Anonymous freshman college student, "The Grown-up World," c.1916

What we remember from childhood we remember forever — permanent ghosts, stamped, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick, 1985

...the childhood shows the man,
As morning shows the day...
~John Milton

To trade a childhood wonder for a plausible explanation — is there a worst trade one makes in life? ~Robert Brault,

I leave to children exclusively, but only for the life of their childhood, all and every the dandelions of the fields and the daisies thereof, with the right to play among them freely, according to the custom of children, warning them at the same time against the thistles. And I devise to children the yellow shores of creeks and the golden sands beneath the water thereof, with the dragon flies that skim the surface of said waters, and the odors of the willows that dip into said waters, and the white clouds that float on high above the giant trees. ~Williston Fish, "A Last Will," 1898

Oh! the soap and water bubbles
That I blew in childhood's hours,
When I only tasted troubles
In the brightest April showers;
How they floated for a moment
In their colours bright and gay,
Like my foolish hopes and fancies
That were bright and frail as they.
~Lizzie Marshall Berry (1847–1919), "Bubbles," Heart Echoes: Original Miscellaneous and Devotional Poems, 1886

In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy, too. ~Robert Brault,

And I leave the children the long, long days to be merry in a thousand ways, and the Night, and the trail of the Milky Way to wonder at.... ~Williston Fish, "A Last Will," 1898

Was there ever a time when the first doll was born? Was there ever a time when the little boys and girls, especially little girls, did not love dolls and did not have something of that nature to play with? Dolls and playthings have been around nearly as long as babies themselves. And I never saw a sane person in my life who regrets that it is so. It is amusing and inspiring to see the little children making merry with their dolls and their toy animals and their little express wagons and their whistles and their balloons and their jumping-jacks and their hobby-horses and a hundred and one other things. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "Mary and Her Dolls," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Oh, the golden age of the barefoot time,
While life was a fairy tale sung in rhyme,
When phantoms grim of a future day
Were hid in the mists of the far away...
Off for a swim on an afternoon,—
The moments—why would they fly so soon!...
The rosy skies of our barefoot days
Lie hidden from view by a misty haze.
~Adelbert Farrington Caldwell (1867–1931), "The Barefoot Time"

He carried his childhood like a hurt warm bird held to his middle-aged breast... ~Herbert Gold, 1962

If any one were to ask you why you threw your arms about and shouted to every playmate within hearing; or why you climbed fences and trees or turned somersaults and handsprings; or why you rushed after every child who came near you to play tag or to frolic, you would probably answer that you "felt like it," or that you "just couldn't help it!" And this would be a very good answer, because your arms and legs and lungs are so full of life and are growing so fast that they must do something to use up some of their vim and energy. When you use your muscles in this active way, you build them up and so strengthen and train your whole body for the part that it will have to bear in the battle of life. Therefore, it is the most natural thing in the world for you to want to play, and one of the best things for you to do, also, especially if most of your games are out-of-doors. ~Woods Hutchinson, M.D., "The Importance of Play," Building Strong Bodies, 1924

All any child needs is the protection of loving parents and an alternative source of information. ~Robert Brault,

When Nobody does nothing wrong,
They say it is the cat;
Though Nobody be long and strong
And very likely fat.
His name is heard from morn till night,
He's known in ev'ry place;
He does the deeds that are unright,
Though no one sees his face.
~S.J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925), The Zankiwank & The Bletherwitch, 1896

They seem older than eleven.... I seem to remember that at eleven my brood were howlers and screamers and runners in circles. These seem like grown men. ~John Steinbeck, East of Eden, 1952

I go back in happy retrospect to the sunny days of childhood. I wander once more in bowery lanes, what time there were hedges in the land, and ere the face of nature was so closely shaved by the keen razor of improvement. It is the time of roses — wild roses, blooming fresh and fair, from cold soil and thorny stem, like wisdom and hope from sorrow; wild roses, lighting up the land with their pure starlike glory, and beautifying the gloom of a fallen world... ~Samuel Reynolds Hole, "The Six of Spades," c.1860

Nature... mercifully teaches children to gossip, to sketch on their slates, to swop marbles and brass buttons, go play the exciting game of criss-cross, with other sports... ~"Education and Insanity," The Saturday Review, 1883

      I, on the contrary, took it all in good part, and showed no signs of feeling even at the fatal moment when my foot snapped in two; and Rose, with a face of utter dismay, held up my own toes before my eyes. "O, my poor Seraphina!" she exclaimed, "what shall we do?"
      [S]aid Willy... "Glue is your only friend." So Rose glued the halves of my foot together.... I, however, could not but feel a misgiving that this was the first warning of my share in the invariable fate of my race. For I had already lived long enough to be aware that the existence of a doll, like that of everything else, has its limits. Either by sudden accidents, such as loss of limbs, or by the daily wear and tear of life, decay gradually makes its progress in us, and we fade away as surely as the most delicate of the fragile race of mortals.
      ~Richard Hengist Horne, The Doll and Her Friends; or, Memoirs of the Lady Seraphina, 1868  [Revised edition of Horne's "Memoirs of a London Doll," 1846. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

      I myself had a large circle of silent acquaintances. When other little girls came to drink tea, they often brought their dolls to spend the evening with me. Then I was in my glory. There was a constant supply of provisions: salmon, ham, bread, fine cheese, pies, and fruit, which was always ripe and in season, winter or summer. The currants were as large as apples and two cherries filled a dish. At these pleasant parties I saw a great range of characters: pretty English damsels, a Turkish sultana, a Swiss peasant, the Queen and Prince Albert, Sir Walter Scott, and Miss Edgeworth have all dined with me on the same day, and Robinson Crusoe came in the evening.
      But it was at these social meetings that I became most fully aware of the liability of dolls to loss of limbs. I never remember giving a party at which the guests could boast of possessing all their legs and arms. The lame footman, too, was propped up against the sideboard, where he stood looking respectable but awkward. Many an ingenious contrivance hid or supplied the deficiencies, and we were happy in spite of our losses; still, such was the case...
      ~Richard Hengist Horne, The Doll and Her Friends; or, Memoirs of the Lady Seraphina, 1868  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

But still dolls will be dolls to the end of all time! ~"The Nursery," The Good Child's Picture-Book of Pet Animals, c.1866  [Published anonymously, my best guess at an author is Laura Valentine. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Dolls will be dolls... ~Richard Hengist Horne, The Doll and Her Friends; or, Memoirs of the Lady Seraphina, 1868  [The full: "For it is not to be supposed that our devotion to human beings precludes us from cultivating the society of our own species. Dolls will be dolls; and they have a natural sympathy with each other, notwithstanding the companionship of the race of man. Most little girls are aware of this fact, and provide suitable society for their dolls. I myself had a large circle of silent acquaintances..." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Oh! dear to memory are those hours
When every pathway led to flowers;
When sticks of peppermint possessed
A sceptre's power o'er the breast,
And heaven was round us while we fed
On rich ambrosial gingerbread.
~Eliza Cook

There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. ~Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Childhood is the sleep of reason... ~Hal Porter

Childhood is that wonderful time of life when all you need to do to lose weight is take a bath. ~Author unknown

As I went forth, on my ten toes, a snowball hit me on the nose, and knocked that organ out of place, a-spreading it all o'er my face. "My blessing on the merry boys," I cried, "and on their harmless joys! I'd gladly sacrifice a nose, out here among the virgin snows, to see the children glad and gay, as I was on a bygone day. If I had noses by the score, I'd see them all bunged up and sore, if that would make the children glad, and this gray world less grim and sad." And while I spoke these words of cheer, a snowball hit me in the ear. It jarred my spinal column loose, and addled all my vital juice. I leaned against a fence and said, "What though that snowball split my head? Some boy was filled with utter glee, when he let drive that shot at me, and if my ruined dome of thought, some comfort to a kid has brought, it surely does not ache in vain; not futile is its grist of pain." And as I feebly tottered by, a snowball hit me in the eye. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Childish Joys"

Memories of my childhood swept over me like swallows in autumn flight. ~Laura L. Livingstone (Herbert Dickinson Ward), Lauriel: The Love Letters of an American Girl, 1901

O the days of joy and gladness
      When my heart was light and gay...
Alas! those scenes are gone for ever;
      I must climb the hill of life,
I must cross the flowing river,
      As the current rolls in strife.
But when I've traced the slippery way
      Of youth, and age's course began,
May I exclaim, "O blessed day!
      When I became a thoughtful man."
~Edward George Kent, "Childhood," Nineveh, 1859

When you're a little kid, you're a little bit of everything — artist, scientist, athlete, scholar. Sometimes it seems like growing up is the process of giving those things up, one by one. ~The Wonder Years, "Coda," 1989, written by Todd W. Langen  [S2, E7, Narrator Kevin]

This, too, is why our life in childhood is so full of infinite significance. Then, all is of equal importance to us; we hear all, we see all, all impressions affect us equally; while, when more advanced in years, we act with more definite ends, busy ourselves more exclusively with details, and laboriously exchange the pure gold of intuition for the paper-money of book definitions, and our lives gain in breadth what they lose in depth and intensity. Now we are grown-up and people of consequence, we are always getting into new houses.... Even our clothes are strange to us, we hardly know how many buttons has the very coat on our back. ~Heinrich Heine, "A Tour in the Harz" (1824), Travel-Pictures, translated from German

The world knows how to straighten out a spoiled child but never makes it up to a child deprived. ~Robert Brault,

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