Quotable Middle Grade

barlettsI’ve always been a quote collector. When I was a teenager, I asked for, and received, a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for Christmas. I still have it. And I still open a page at random to see what quote jumps out at that moment.

I also write down quotes and phrases that I come across (whether they’re in Bartlett’s or not). The first time I remember doing that, I was nine, and the quote I copied into my notebook was, “You have two numbers in your age when you are ten. It’s the beginning of growing up.” It came from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, which was a book in one of my favorite series. Those words felt so big to me at age nine. They held the promise of big things to come. In less than a year, I would “start to grow up.”

My friend Sara Aronson showed me a way to take my quote collection to the next level. Instead of recording her favorite quotes in a Word document (which is what I had been doing before she and I had this conversation), she records them on note cards. I may or may not be remembering what she does with her note cards right, but what I’ve been doing with mine is dealing one out to myself every morning before I start writing. This was today’s:


It’s amazing how often I’ll pull a quote that is exactly what I need to hear on a given day.

Many of my quotes are, of course, taken from middle grade novels. Here are some of my favorites:


I really should take that one out of my deck and post it above my computer where I can see it all the time. It’s a good one!

Here’s another good one. (Who am I kidding? ALL the quotes in my deck of quotes are good ones!) And because I’ve seen it so often, I tend to repeat to myself whenever I’m feeling down:


I happened to pull this Kate DiCamillo quote shortly after I moved to Seattle in the spring of 2013. Like I said, exactly what I needed to hear that day. I’d left a lot of really good friends in Iowa. But I “opened my heart” and Kate was right: people came!


And what about this final line from Charlotte’s Web:


How about you? What are some of your favorite quotes from middle grade novels?

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Dori Butler
Dori Hillestad Butler is an award-winning author of more than 50 books for young readers, including the Haunted Library series, the Buddy Files series, and the King & Kayla series. Her Buddy Files #1: Case of the Lost Boy won a 2011 Edgar Award and her books have appeared on numerous children’s choice and teen award lists. Dori grew up in southern Minnesota, spent 19 years in Iowa, and now lives in the Seattle area. She enjoys visiting schools and libraries all over the country and dreams of doing an author visit in all 50 states.
  1. One of my favorites:
    This lodestone of longing, this certainty, drew him to lead his companions ever westward through wild and unknown country, as unerringly as a carrier pigeon released from an alien loft.
    from The Incredible Journey
    by Sheila Burnford
    or this:
    There are days that should never be.
    And then, there are days that oh, if only they could go on forever!
    from Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
    by Trisha Springstubb
    I keep quotes from picture books, too.
    Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. Thanks for this post. I think this is a terrific idea. I might just try this out.

  3. This is a great idea!!