The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations about
Inner Child & Play


Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.... ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909

The human need to play is a powerful one. ~Leo Buscaglia, Bus 9 to Paradise: A Loving Voyage, 1986

There's enough fun in the world for everybody to have some. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The right to play is one of the divine rights of men and women, of boys and girls, and is just as essential to the peace, happiness and prosperity of the world as is the right to pray. Never be afraid or ashamed, my young friends, of honest, vigorous, healthy play. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "The Right to Play," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

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... But we are apt to let the dry husks of responsibility make us stiff in the joints, and playing tag gets to be one of the lost arts. ~Alwyn M. Thurber, Quaint Crippen, 1896

Happy is he who still loves something that he loved in the nursery:  he has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.  ~G. K. Chesterton

The great man is he who does not lose his child's-heart. ~Mencius

The boyheart! The boyheart! It lies within your breast,
All ready to go leaping when your soul is at its best...
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "The Boyheart," c.1903

Maybe if I were to tell exactly how many birthdays I've had you would always be saying... "You're a mighty big girl to be doing such silly things." ~Kate Trimble Sharber (b.1883), The Annals of Ann, 1910

I guess we never get too old to do goofy stuff; we just get old enough to think we do. ~Leave It To Beaver, "Beaver's Rat," 1961, written by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher  [S4, E31, Ward Cleaver]

So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us. ~Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie, 1960

I know at last what I want to be when I grow up.
When I grow up I want to be a little boy.
~Joseph Heller, Something Happened, 1966

There is a child in every one of us, not always accompanied by an adult. ~Robert Brault,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~Pablo Picasso, as quoted in Time, October 1976

From Beavers, Bees should learn to mend their Ways;
A Bee just Works; a Beaver Works and Plays.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Certain Quadrupeds," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from the French by Katherine Woods, 1971

Anticipate the day as if it was your birthday and you are turning six again. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2012

Part of me is forever eight years old... ~Rachel Maddow, said at age 50

Everybody's twelve years old in an apple orchard. ~Rachael Ray, Rachael Ray Show, 2007  [while making autumn stew —tg]

You breathe in the glory of the new apple blossom and the girl heart rises up through all the world-mold that the years have gathered, and the lost thrill is back again. ~Eva D. Kellogg, "May," 1902

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature.  Most persons do not see the sun.  At least they have a very superficial seeing.  The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child.  The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"

We are all grown-up children, really. Our lives are made up of childhood and adulthood, all together. So one should go back in search of what was loved and found to be real. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

When darkened hours come crowding fast,
A thought — and all the dark is past!
For I am back a boy again... My heart and
Soul wing away, thru all the earthly ills —
I am back again on those wild greening hills.
~Edwin Markham, "The Heart's Return," The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems, 1913  [a little altered —tg]

What we all need is enough vacation every day so that we can face each morning with health sufficient to do our work in gladness. That is to say, we need enough of a play-spell every day to keep us in good physical condition. ~Elbert Hubbard

E. W. Ansted hasn't forgot how to laugh and how to play. His is the heart that never grows old... You must get just enough play-spell mixed up in the work every day, so nothing becomes monotonous. ~Elbert Hubbard

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A Beauty Bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. ~Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, 1986

As long as you're green, you're growing; as soon as you're ripe, you start to rot. ~Ray Kroc

Adults are obsolete children... ~Dr. Seuss

Wow, look at the grass stains on my skin. I say, if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, 1992

The proper name of toys is playthings. They are quite irrational, and their only justification is that they give happiness — and I have yet to learn of anything better worth giving. But in giving happiness they give life, that is why happiness is worth having. When you play you are happy, while you are happy you are in eternity — for happiness annihilates time and space. ~Holbrook Jackson, "Peterpantheism," Romance and Reality: Essays and Studies, 1911

Some things can only be understood when you're in a tree house. With a pile of warm chocolate chip cookies. And a book. ~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2010,

You're never too old for a treehouse. ~The Wonder Years, "The Tree House," 1990, teleplay by Matthew Carlson  [S3, E15, Jack Arnold]

Well, everyone likes a snow day, even when it doesn't snow. ~Elementary, "Ill Tidings," 2016, written by Jeffrey Paul King  [S5, E6, Sherlock Holmes]

I am often accused of being childish. I prefer to interpret that as child-like. I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things. I tend to exaggerate and fantasize and embellish. I still listen to instinctual urges. I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. I never water my garden without soaking myself. It has been after such times of joy that I have achieved my greatest creativity and produced my best work. ~Leo Buscaglia, Bus 9 to Paradise: A Loving Voyage, 1986

Sigh not your hours away, Youth should be ever gay,
Ever should dance around, Pleasure's enchanted ground—
Reason invites you, passion excites you, raptures abound.
~John Christopher Smith, "The Enchanter," 1760 ♫

Play is when we are alive all over. We play best out-of-doors. We come out of the house on a bright sunshiny morning, and see the sparkle in the air and feel the cool fresh breeze on our faces; we hear the rustle of the tree-tops and look up to see the little white clouds floating across the bright blue sky; and we feel like running and jumping and skipping and shouting out loud, just because we are so full of life. As we say, "We feel just bubbling over," for the great outdoors has got into our blood. ~Woods Hutchinson, M.D., "The Importance of Play," Building Strong Bodies, 1924

...delight in little things,
The buoyant child surviving in the man...
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Blossoming of the Solitary Date-Tree"

We mature in knowledge and wisdom but never leave the playground of our hearts. ~Terri Guillemets

In this age of competitive examination there is great danger that in many schools, play is looked upon as a thing to be discountenanced as detrimental to scholastic progress, instead of being considered as an important aid in the production of the health of the mind with which health of the body is so nearly allied. Home-work occupying boys and girls, of ten or twelve years old, until midnight, can produce disease, hysteria, brain fog, and a long train of evils that distress the child. ~Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., 1878  [a little altered —tg]

And to my thinking as a lover of life, butterflies, soap-bubbles, and whatever is of their kind among men, know most of happiness. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, "Of Reading and Writing," Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, 1883, translated by Alexander Tille, 1896

Long time a child, and still a child, when years
Had painted manhood on my cheek, was I;
For yet I lived like one not born to die;
A thriftless prodigal of smiles and tears—
No hope I needed, and I knew no fears.
But sleep, though sweet, is only sleep—and waking,
I waked to sleep no more; at once o'ertaking
The vanguard of my age, with all arrears
Of duty on my back. Nor child, nor man,
Nor youth, nor sage, I find my head is gray,
For I have lost the race I never ran.
A rathe December blights my lagging May:
And still I am a child, though I be old
Time is my debtor for my days untold.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849)

In my soul, I am still that small child who did not care about anything else but the beautiful colors of a rainbow. ~Papiha Ghosh, August 2011 winner of The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

O, men! grown sick with toil and care,
Leave for a while the crowded mart;
O, women! sinking with despair,
Weary of limb and faint of heart,
Forget your cares to-day, and come
As children back to childhood's house!...
When all you knew of life was good,
And all you dreamed of life was sweet;
And let fond memory lead you back,
O'er youthful love's enchanted track...
~Phoebe Cary, "Thanksgiving," 1881

O God... make me a child again, even before I die; give me back the simple faith, the clear vision of the child that holds its father's hand. ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897  [spoken by the character Heinrich Heine —tg]

It is a happy talent to know how to play. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1835

Everyone loves to play. Playfulness is instinctive and it is universal. All forms of life play: dolphins, chimpanzees, squirrels, dogs, cats — all take time to play. ~Leo Buscaglia, Bus 9 to Paradise: A Loving Voyage, 1986

A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it. ~R. C. Ferguson

Sane and healthy play tends to blot out the remembrance of cares and hardship; it gives our minds something else to think about. ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), "The Right to Play," Floyd's Flowers: or, Duty and Beauty for Colored Children, 1905

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.  ~Jean Piaget

Never neglect an opportunity to play leap-frog; it is the best of all games, and, unlike the terribly serious and conscientious pastimes of modern youth, will never become professionalized. ~Herbert Beerbohm Tree, as quoted by Hesketh Pearson ("Sir Herbert Tree," Modern Men and Mummers)

Think what a better world it would be if we all — the whole world — had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. ~Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, 1986

My childhood may be over, but that doesn't mean playtime is. ~Ron Olson

To live in joys that once have been,
      To put the cold world out of sight,
And deck life's drear and barren scene
      With hues of rainbow light...
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 result of life's decay,
To be once more a little child
      For one bright summer day.
~Lewis Carroll, "Solitude"

We all have periods in our lives when life seems a little too real... That's when we look to our inner child to rescue us from the burdens of adult existence, if only for an hour or two... Unfortunately, the typical inner child is petrified of loud voices, Mylanta, and severe PMS, and therefore goes into hiding in times of stress. Should this happen to yours, you may need to acquire a dog, whip up some cupcakes, or initiate a pillow fight, since no inner child can resist any of these. ~Nancy Shulins, Every Day I Love You More (Just Not Today), 2001

The opposite of play is not work. It's depression. ~Brian Sutton-Smith (1924–2015), play theorist

We must be as near to flowers, grasses, and butterflies as a child is... We adults have grown up beyond them and have to stoop to them... He who would have a share in all good things must understand at times how to be small. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Paul V. Cohn

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein

Somehow it feels wrong to have so much fun, but I can't figure out what's wrong with it. ~The Bishop's Wife, 1947, written by R. Nathan, R.E. Sherwood, L. Bercovici, B. Wilder, & C. Brackett  [Julia —tg]

...he retained to his last hour his taste for the adventurous, the singular, and the uncommon, and never was steady enough to pursue perseveringly the drudgery of life. ~The O'Hara Family (Michael Banim), The Ghost-Hunter and His Family, 1833

If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses... ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life, translated by John Oxenford

The human eye has a penetrating power of diacritical analysis, tearing things apart and labeling them with lightning rapidity. But nature is infinite; your analysis is but the prick of a pin in a landscape... We must offer her a heart prepared, receptive through childlike-love; then the eye is detached from the brain, and carries its swift, multitudinous visions straight to the soul. ~Rev. James H. Ecob, "Instantaneous Photographs," 1895

Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from the French by Katherine Woods, 1971

Children ask better questions than do adults. "May I have a cookie?" "Why is the sky blue?" and "What does a cow say?" are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than "Where's your manuscript?" "Why haven't you called?" and "Who's your lawyer?" ~Fran Lebowitz, "Children: Pro or Con?"

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. ~Rachel Carson, "Help Your Child to Wonder"

But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. ~C. S. Lewis

her smiling girl-heart danced
behind the grey, grey hair
~Terri Guillemets, "Girl-heart," 2019, scrambled blackout poetry created from Enid Bagnold, National Velvet, 1935, pages 125–126

In my soul there is an immortal kid refusing to keep up with my aging body. ~Shyma, @Shymalicious, August 2011 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden

I wish I was at school again,
      A-rompin' like I used to do
      We used to play 'n laugh all day—
      I wish I was at school again!
Instead of climbing on to ten
      And two-score years with hair as gray
      As nor'east clouds some winter day
      (It sort o' gives a chap away),
      It seems to me I'd rather be
      A-trottin' off to school again!
Gather your slate and books and then
      Mother would take to work and spread
      A slice or two of old-time bread
      With cranberry jam and then a red
      Apple or two for me 'n you—
      I wish I was at school again!
And then the time we used to spend,
      When school was closed, out in the wood
      A-gatherin' the nuts that strewed
      The ground afore Jack Frost 'd intrude—
      I wish I was at school again!
The years are big with change since when
      We walked to school down that road,
      And now life gave us such a heart-load—
      It seems almost a hundred years,
      A century of sighs and tears—
      I — I wish I was at school again!
~Kimball Chase Tapley, "Lookin' Backwards," c.1891  [altered —tg]

Children have neither past nor future; they enjoy the present, which very few of us do. ~Jean de La Bruyère

Always jump in the puddles! Always skip alongside the flowers. Never turn down a good pillow fight. ~Terri Guillemets

If we make time for play, it can change our lives and it costs nothing. ~Leo Buscaglia, Bus 9 to Paradise: A Loving Voyage, 1986

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published 1998 Mar 18
revised Sep–Oct 2020
last saved 2024 Mar 29