Friday, May 3, 2019

Children's Book Week

This week, April 29-May 5, is the 100th anniversary of Children's Book Week. To mark the occasion, the New York Times profiled the Library of Congress's digitized children's books collection. This site provides anyone with an internet connection access to dozens of the most classic children's books printed in England and the United States before 1924. One can scroll through W.W. Denslow's illustrations of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Kate Greenaway's Pied Piper of Hamelin, Howard Pyle's The Wonder Clock, and Walter Crane's The Baby's Own Aesop.

Illustration from The Rocket Book,
from Library of Congress
digitized collections
Among the titles Perri Klass and the experts she interviewed for the Times article mentioned was the Rocket Book by Peter Newell (1912). It was lauded for the engaging design of the book, with illustrations of a rocket that flies from the basement through the floors of a building. And Klass expounded at length on the importance of Isaiah Thomas's A Little Pretty Pocket-book (1787) as a landmark in American publications for youth.

The Library of Congress site is an excellent source of digital scans for anyone with an interest in classic children's literature. For those who wish to see and read the real books, you don't have to go to Washington, D.C. to access these rare volumes; you only have to go to the Clarke Historical Library. The Clarke holds the first editions of all of the titles mentioned in this blog and more. Can anyone think of a better way of celebrating Children's Book Week - or children's books at any time of the year - than enjoying rare and historic children's books that are still favorites of young and old to this day.