EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For May, we’ve stepped through the looking-glass to learn about the history and development of children’s literature.
1658 Orbis Pictus, the first children’s textbook with pictures, is published.
1744 John Newbery releases A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, considered the first children’s book.
1942 The Poky Little Puppy is among the first 12 Little Golden Book titles.
1963 Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are raises the level of artistry in children’s picture books.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, was a watershed in children’s literature. Its emphasis on fantasy and childlike imagination was a departure from earlier works for kids, which were largely educational and reality-based.
- Competition with the Soviets fueled US efforts to create more engaging books for young readers. One result was the Beginner Books imprint, founded in 1957 by Phyllis Cerf, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Helen Geisel.
- Released in 1942 and still in print today, Seventeenth Summer by Maurine Daly, is often cited as the first modern young adult (YA) book.
Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!
The History of Children’s Books in 100 Books, Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad
Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, Peter Hunt, ed.
100 Great Children’s Picturebooks, Martin Salisbury
John Newbery: Father of Children’s Literature, Shirley Graham
75 Years of Little Golden Books, 1942-2017: A Commemorative Set of 12 Best Loved Books
The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Theodor Geisel: A Portrait of the Man Who Became Dr. Seuss, Donald Pease
Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, Bruce Handy