If any Lower School pupils (Years 6-8) are after something new to read and on the hunt for inspiration, Mr Jones, Senior Librarian, has put together a wide range of opening paragraphs to scan through.

Some such as SE Hinton’s all-time classic The Outsiders or Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia have incredibly famous openings, whilst others are more catchy modern examples. Keep an eye out for some very obscure titles mixed among the bestsellers.

For pupils looking for more challenging examples, take a look at the Middle School selection (Years 9-11).


Nina Bawden – Carrie’s War

“Carrie had often dreamed about coming back. In her dreams she was twelve years old again; short, scratched legs in red socks and scuffed, brown sandals, walking along the narrow, dirt path at the side of the railway line to where it plunged down, off the high ridge, through the Druid’s Grove.”

S E Hinton – The Outsiders

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman – he looks tough and I don’t, but I guess my own looks aren’t so bad.”

Katherine Patterson – Bridge to Terabithra

“Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity—Good. His dad had the pick-up going. H could get up now. Jess slid out of bed and into his overalls. He didn’t worry about a shirt because once he began running he would be hot as popping grease.”


Sarah Rees Brennan – The Demon’s Lexicon

“The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favourite sword under the sink. He rescued it, wiped the steel and absently tested the edge with his thumb while water flowed onto the floor.”

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.  The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not know you had been cut, not immediately.”

Peader O’Guilin – The Call

“On her 10th birthday Nessa overhears an argument in her parents’ bedroom about the Three Minutes. How could she? The whole of society is working to keep its children innocent. She plays with dolls. She believes the lies about her brother, and when her parents tuck her in at night, her fussy mum and grinning dad they show her only love.”

Terry Pratchett – Johnny and the Bomb

“Johnny never knew for certain why he started seeing the dead. The Alderman said it was probably because he was too lazy not to. Most people’s minds don’t let them see things that might upset them, he said.”

Philip Reeve – Mortal Engines

“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried out bed of the old North Sea”.

Melinda Salisbury – The Sin Eater’s Daughter

“Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the screams.  They live in the walls like ghosts and echo in between footsteps. If you travel deep into the belly of the castle, beneath the barracks where the guards sleep, beneath the Telling Room, that is where they linger behind the quiet moments.”

Science Fiction

Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game

“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get. That’s what you said about the brother. The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Not his ability.”

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding the rough edges of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This was the day of the reaping.”

Michael Grant – Gone

“One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone. There. Gone. No ‘poof’. No flash of light. No explosion.”


Anne Cassidy – Looking for JJ

“Everyone was looking for Jennifer Jones. She was dangerous, the newspapers said. She posed a threat to children and should be kept behind bars. The public had a right to know where she was. Some of the weekend papers even resurrected the old headline: A Life for a Life!”

Sophie McKenzie – Girl Missing

“Who am I? I sat at the computer in Mum’s office and stared at the essay heading. New form teachers always give you homework like that at the start of the year. Who am I? When I was younger it was easy. I’d just write down obvious stuff like: I am Lauren Matthews.”

Mindy McGinnis – Not a Drop to Drink

“Lynn was 9 the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink. Mother had killed the people who came too close to their pond before, over the next seven years they fell to Lynn’s gun also.”

Nicola Morgan – Mondays are Red

“Mondays are red. Sadness has an empty blue smell. And music can taste of anything from banana puree to bat’s pee. That’s what I need to explain, starting with the day I woke up in a hospital bed with a kaleidoscope in my head.”

Annabel Pitcher – My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece

“My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. Three of her fingers, her right elbow and her kneecap are buried in a graveyard in London.  Mum & Dad had a big argument when the police found ten bits of her body.”


Ally Condie – Matched

“Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?  My wings aren’t white or feathered; they’re green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move—first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention.”

Patrick Ness – The Knife of Never Letting Go

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything. “Need a poo Todd”. “Shut up Manchee”. “Poo. Poo. Todd.” “I said shut it!”

Veronica Roth – Divergent

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.”

Teri Terry – Slated

“Weird. All right, I haven’t got much experience on which to base this judgement. I may be sixteen and I’m not slow or backward and haven’t been locked in a cupboard since birth – as far as I know – but Slating does that to you. Makes you lacking in experience.  It takes a while for everything being firsts. First words, first steps, first spider on the wall, first stubbed toe. You get the idea: first everything.”


Graham McNamee – Beyond

“I remember dying. After I got injured my heart stopped and I flatlined. I was done and gone. But I wasn’t alone. There was something waiting for me when I died. Something dark and cold tried to take my soul away. When they brought me back to life, I escaped from it. Left it behind. But what if it came back with me, followed me home like a hungry stray?”

Tony Jones (Senior Librarian and Archivist)