Literary Tattoos

November 9, 2012

By Carter.

I’m way too terrified to ever get my own tattoo. The thought of it alone makes my knees wobble and butterflies swarm. But these tattoos inspired by books are just too delightful! That reminder to Stay Gold is from S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and it’s a reference to Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Brilliant advice. Brilliant permanent advice!

Is there a quote from a children’s book you’d possibly ink on your body? I think I’d go with the “Do you like my hat?” dog in Go, Dog. Go! Or Ramona Quimby in her signature snit! Or the platform to Harry’s world of magic. How about you?

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1 Linda K November 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

Are blog commenters allowed to ask questions? I’m sort of a newbie!
Why does “Do you like my hat?” resonate with you? I certainly remember it from my childhood and come cooler (hat) weather I always ask my kids, in my best reading-out-loud-voice, “Do you like my hat?” It invariably dissolves them into giggles and they yell “I do, I do like your hat”. But interested why you think it is tat material (if you care to share.)

I’m trying to think of my own kiddy-lit inspired tattoo to share with you from my favourite kid’s book of all time – Frederick – but can’t think of a short enough line :(


2 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

Linda! Ask away. I LOVE this comment.

I’m like you…it’s so, just…STUCK in the core of my heart?! My dad would read this book with me over and over and over, and it’s just always been there. A dear, dear memory.

And now I’ve grown up to be a huge-mongous book lover, and I just KNOW this kooky story is at the beginning of my own story.

Frederick would be perfect!


3 Lori November 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

I think “do you like my hat”, would be a good children’s book choice. I love it and we quote that line often in my house. It always brings good memories and that is why it would be good tat material. I don’t know what Carter would say.

I think another choice for me would be, “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” That was my favorite book in middle school and the message never gets old.


4 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 11:40 am

Yes! Something grin-worthy and something so true.


5 Ginger November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

Ha Ha…..”Do you like my hat?” is one of my favorite quotes too. I got a tat in my midlife crisis at 31, a symbol that would represent my new life….as soon as it was done, i realized my mistake. Thankfully I put it somewhere only my Dearie sees and on occasion,my children, if I am wearing my bathingsuit in the backyard…..
…..I forget it’s there, and they will ask “mommy? what is that on your back?” “Uuhg” I think to myself…
at least is a discussion point in where I can express to them that mommies can make stupid mistakes too…..


6 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 11:41 am

Aren’t we all always growing up? It’s kind of a comforting thought.


7 Nicole November 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

Mine would have to be from Roald Dahl… “believe in magic” or maybe “I want an Oompa Loompa NOW!”

PS: I love this idea


8 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

PS: I love those.

And I love the rest of that Roald Dahl quote, although even the thought of inking all of those hurts (!) …

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.


9 Joanna November 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Tattoos wouldn’t be for me, but if they were, I’d get that ‘Stay Gold’ one. ‘The Outsiders’ was my favourite book and my brother’s favourite book growing up (I can still quote the first few pages off by heart…) . My brother loved it too. YEARS later I was told I had soft tissue cancer and my brother flew a long way to see me after the diagnosis (because of his job he could only stay one day). After he’d left, my phone beeped and I had a text. All it said was ‘Stay Gold’. Those words…It meant everything to me. And…it turned out there had been a mistake. A misdiagnosis, if you can believe that. What the heck! Maybe I should go out and get that tattoo after all!


10 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Oh, wow! What a beautiful (but harrowing!) story, Joanna!


11 Jenni Bailey November 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I have a very tiny tattoo on my hip that I got when I was 18. My best friend at the time sketched it for me – it’s an arched-back Halloween cat – and I sort of love it but mostly not. It’s more difficult when I think of that friend now and how far we have grown apart since then. I would LOVE to cover it up with something that speaks more to who I am now. And, honestly, that Platform 9 and 3/4 would be SO awesome!! Or something equally sweet from HP, like the Deathly Hallows symbol.


12 Winona November 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I can’t tell you how many times I read Go, Dog, Go to my two boys. My oldest was especially fond of it (he is 32 now!) I had to smile when you mentioned it.


13 Hannah Alexander November 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm

That Ramona tattoo!!!! So good.


14 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm



15 Rebekah November 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

My husband and I have talked about getting “Expecto Patronum!” from Harry Potter, as a reminder to not fall victim to our fearful and anxious thoughts, but to say “get outta here!” instead.


16 Patti November 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I have the red fish from “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” tattooed on my left shoulder blade (back). I contemplated a tattoo for years, and never strayed from what I wanted. After I sat on the idea for 5 years, in my 20′s I finally did it.

It represents so many things to me, as tattoos should. Years later, I don’t think it’s the tattoo I would still get, but that’s OK. Just another reminder that everything always changes, and that growth is good. I certainly don’t regret having the tattoo, but a lot of that is because it’s in a place that is VERY easy to hide. I only have to show it when I want to. But, when my 3 year giggles and asks to see the fish, I smile and hope that one day the pursuit of learning will be distilled into something so small as a fish tattoo for him.


17 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Patti, that’s a perfect story!


18 Victoria Regina November 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I don’t think I could ever get a tattoo, since it involves two things I’m not keen on: needles and commitment.


19 Kristen E November 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I love my tattoos – I have 5 – and actually intend on getting a literary one soon. “He was part of my dream, of course; but then I was part of his dream too.” It’s from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, and I plan on getting it in his handwriting. My husband and I used it on our wedding programs. :) I’m an enormous Lewis Carroll fan, and book fan in general, so I think it’s perfect!


20 Sarah November 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Oh, the places you’ll go… from Dr. Seuss.


21 tracy November 10, 2012 at 6:59 am

It’s so funny that I never thought of my own tattoo as literary but I have “to thine own self be true” from Hamlet tattooed on my arm, it was the response to a bad relationship. I was once at a spa and an older woman asked what it said and she told me she thought “every woman should have that tattoo!” It was really cute! :)


22 Karyn Gorman November 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Never got a tattoo…the commitment alone was too much. Pain was really secondary


23 Heather November 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I decided a while back that if I ever feel brave enough to get a tattoo, it will be a coffee spoon to remind me of T.S. Eliot and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”


24 Amy November 11, 2012 at 9:57 am

My husband has The Lorax tattooed on his bicep. A lovely reminder of his favorite book from childhood; a book he is sharing his love for with our 4 year old daughter.


25 Carter Higgins November 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

Oh, that’s so sweet!


26 Melissa November 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Oh cool topic! I have a kid lit tattoo! I have “oh the places you’ll go!” Written in lovely cursive just under my elbow on the inside of my arm. It serves as an encouraging little mantra, and it’s from my favourite dr Seuss book. It’s also perfectly fitting as I got it when my partner and I were on our first holiday together in New York (we live in Australia). We both have the same one although she has an illustration under hers, where I just have the words. I plan in the near future of getting a tattoo of Hedwig, from Harry Potter.


27 What would Martha do? November 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I don’t think I’d ever get a tattoo – mostly because I don’t like pain but also because I’d never be able to decide on a design that I’d want on my skin for the rest of my life. It’s a huge commitment!


28 Ilene November 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Since I was in 6th grade I had always told my parents that I would be getting a tattoo. They of course dismissed it but when I was a junior in high school I figured out the perfect tattoo. I have always loved King Arthur so I got the Excalibur tattooed on my wrist (I did get grounded for 2 weeks as a result!). Now almost 30 years later it is a slightly blurry blob but I feel like if I change anything the magic of that day and King Arthur will go away.


29 Tamara November 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I actually have a ‘Stay Gold’ tattoo …my sister and I have matching ones :) it’s my all time favourite quote from my favourite book and movie, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. A friend of mine has a half-sleeve tattoo of the cover of Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh, the Places You Will Go’ …she’s much bolder than me, but I think it’s awesome. Books resonate so much with me, I would happily have a million quotes from my favourite books tattooed on me ;)


30 norah November 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Holy mackeral! I have the EXACT SAME RAMONA QUIMBY TATTOOOOOOOO! Except mine has a banner saying “Ramona Jane” under it, my daughter’s name. Be my best friend!


31 Carter Higgins November 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm

You do?! That’s amazing! And you have a daughter named Ramona? Even more amazing. I have no tattoo, but I’m sure we are kindreds.


32 Norah November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

Yes, my 2.5 year old Ramona is very, very aptly named (much like our dog Chewy). When she was born, she was in the NICU for a while, and I remember coming in one morning to visit and the nurse ran up to me excitedly, saying “GUESS WHAT! The baby next to Ramona today is named BEATRICE!” It was awesome.


33 gypsy November 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm
34 alliecat May 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I’ve never thought I wanted a tatoo until the idea of a literary tat came up a few years ago. I designed a beautiful, open book with “quarter size” pictures falling from it. I wanted a picture to represent all of my favorite books – Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud, Hunger Games, Twilight, Diana Gabaldon, Harry Potter, etc. That way, I could always add another small pic if I read something ‘tat worthy’. I chickened out instead and got a literary Pandora bracelet. I find a charm for each book I love. Cheaper, less perminant and WAY less painful!


35 Kristine May 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I have my 3 girls names, birth flowers, and baby’s feet on the inside of my arm. I plan on finishing it up to make a full sleeve just for them by adding pictures they’ve drawn when they were little, how they first signed their names, and top it off a quote from one of our fav books with one change ” as long as I live
My babies you’ll be…”
I get so choked up reading that book to my kids.
I also like the “stay gold” tattoo, the Outsiders was my favorite novel when I was in grade 7 and I’ve probably reread it a thousand times since the first time I picked it up.


36 Jo July 7, 2013 at 7:37 am

“Second on the right and straight on to morning” reminds me of my childish imagination. But taught me the possibilities if you dare


37 Caryn November 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm

My uncle once made me promise to never get a tattoo as he has several from his army days and has always regretted them as he has gotten older and skin aged. I would be terrified to get one, but I’ve always fancied a Harold and the Purple Crayon tattoo somehow connecting or making a design around some freckles or something. :)


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