19 Sad Quotes From Beloved Childhood Books

by Alex Weiss

Some of my favorite children's books I read when I was little had deep, complex, and utterly depressing themes that flew right over my innocent, cheerful mind. While reading fairy tales and fantasy stories about the flying boy who would take you away to Neverland and the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are , you often didn't think about the sadness hidden in between the lines of each story. The idea of growing up and becoming a lonely adult was never really a concern because as kids, we were just focused on that — being carefree, excited, and happy kids.

But of course childhood doesn't just consist of happiness, so it was good to know we weren't alone in feeling sad or confused because our favorite books showed us that was OK to feel that way. And up until now, going back and reading some childhood favorites with my young niece, I realize that these books have some incredibly sad lines I completely forgot about.

While all these quotes are sadly true, it is humbling to go back and remember how you first felt while reading these books. Each one reminds you to stay young at heart and that even though things aren't always going well, books are a great way to escape and learn lessons from — even as adults. Here are the 19 of the most heartbreaking quotes from children's books you cherish.

1. "Once you’ve grown up, you can never come back. Never."

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

2. "And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all."

― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

3. "I wish that I could give you something, but I have nothing left... I am just an old stump."

— Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

4. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not."

— Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

5. "Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will."

― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

6. "The sad truth is the truth is sad."

— Lemony Snicket, The Hostile Hospital

7. "'Where are the people?' resumed the little prince at last. 'It’s a little lonely in the desert…'

'It is lonely when you’re among people, too,' said the snake.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

8. "Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits."

― Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

9. "We do not know what things look like. We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing."

― Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

10. "'Why can't you fly now, mother?''Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.''Why do they forget the way?''Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.'"

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

11. "'I might have known,' said Eeyore. 'After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said 'Bother!'. The Social Round. Always something going on.'"

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

12. "You see, one loves the sunset when one is so sad."

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

13. "She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there — like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone."

― Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

14. "If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does."

— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

15. "Wilbur didn't want food, he wanted love."

― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

16. "Dreams do come true. If only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it."

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

17. "All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it."

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

18. "He wasted his wishes on wishing."

― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein

19. "The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside of him, half joy, half terrible sadness."

— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Images: JD Hancock; JD Hancock; Julien; erin m; UnknownNet Photography; Tasha; Matt Hintsa; Brandi Korte; Ed Sowden; prettybooks; Jaione Dagdrømmer; r. nial bradshaw; brianwise; John; Marketa; me and the sysop; galaxygrrl; Halle Stoutzenberger; Hoffnungsschimmer; vintagecat; Natalie T/flickr