Which First Lines Will Make YOU Keep Reading?

BookendsCindy and Lynn: One of our favorite middle-school library contests is a First Lines Contest. We challenge students and staff to plunder the library collection to find strong opening lines that make them want to read more. This makes an easy bulletin board or website post and is a great kick-off to the school year. It’s also good reinforcement for the message that the students’ own writing should have a good lead.

Since The Booklist Reader is in kick-off mode, we thought we’d celebrate with some enticing first lines from recent titles for children and teens. Has a snappy opening line grabbed you recently? Share it with us in the comments!

“Let’s get something straight, right off the bat: Everything the movies have ever taught you about space travel is garbage.”
Space Case, Stuart Gibbs (2014)

“That’s the trouble with milking
french fries—slippery elbows.”

“In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all.”
Jinx, Sage Blackwood (2013)

Zits Shredded“That’s the trouble with milking french fries—slippery elbows.”
—Zits Shredded: A Novel, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman (2014)

“Not everybody can be the rock at the top of the rock pile.”
—Absolutely AlmostLisa Graff (2014)

“Fathers don’t need to know everything. Sometimes it’s even necessary to tell them a fib or two, to keep them from worrying too much or jumping to the wrong conclusions.”
The Incredible Charlotte SycamoreKate Maddison (2013)

“We were watching telly the night Nan burnt the house down.”
Into the GreyCeline Kiernan (2014)

“I don’t wish to hunt animals who were once children. But I must.”
The Witch’s CurseKeith McGowan (2013)Absolutely Almost

There are plenty of impatient people in this world who will pick up a book and thumb past its preface. You should be proud you’re not one of them. The point of a preface is to prepare you for the story you’re about to read. And when it comes ot the dark and dangerous tale that’s written on these pages, you’ll need all the preparation you can get.”
Kiki Strike: The Darkness DwellersKirsten Miller (2013)

“Our last day of middle school was supposed to be amazing, but instead Marco and I are standing at the sinks in the gray boys’ bathroom trying to wash half a snow cone out of my hair.”
Marco ImpossibleHannah Moskowitz (2013)

“In the beginning there was the donut.”
The Center of EverythingLinda Urban (2013)

Falling Into Place“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s Laws of Motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.”
Falling Into PlaceAmy Zhang (2014)

“James Hillager thought he was hallucinating when he first saw the giant leech.”
Rebel FireAndrew Lane (2011)

“What do you want your name to be this time? We have about thirty minutes.”
The Rules for DisappearingAshley Elston (2013)

“There is an old meerkat proverb that goes: ‘Only the fattest pelican will wink at the unsuspecting turtle.'”
Ninja Meerkats: The Clan of the Scorpion, Gareth P. Jones (2013)




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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