Little Golden Books still provide a gateway to literacy and a lifetime of future reading.
Recently, I watched a series of videos posted on ReadingRocket.org of an interview with Leonard S. Marcus, a leading scholar of English language children’s literature. In the interview, Mr. Marcus shares his vast knowledge of the history of children’s books. I particularly enjoyed video #4 (of 24) titled “The Golden Days of Golden Books”.
Little Golden Book publishing began in the 1940’s at an affordable price of $0.25 each. The convenience of purchasing them in a drug store or supermarket made the books both available and appealing to a wider audience.
The first 12 titles were printed in September 1942* and released to stores in October:
- Three Little Kittens, by Marie Simchow Stern
- Bedtime Stories, illus. Gustaf Tenggren
- Mother Goose, by Phyllis Fraser, illus. Gertrude E. Espenscheid
- Prayers for Children, by Rachel Taft Dixon
- The Little Red Hen, illus. Rudolf Freund
- Nursery Songs, by Leah Gale, illus. Corinne Malvern
- The Alphabet from A to Z, by Leah Gale, illus. Vivienne Blake and Richard Peck
- The Poky Little Puppy, by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illus. Gustaf Tenggren
- The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, by Winfield Scott Hoskins
- Baby’s Book of Objects
- The Animals of Farmer Jones, by Leah Gale, illus. Richard Scarry
- This Little Piggy and Other Counting Rhymes, by Phyllis Cerf Wagner, illus. Roberta Harris Pfafflin Petty
Being born in the 50’s, the Little Golden Book series was a staple in our home, and more recently, the line of books sought to adapt several of the Star Wars movies.
The eighth book in the series and the top-selling children’s book of all time, The Poky Little Puppy, was written by Janette Sebring Lowrey and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. (Mr. Tenggren worked for Walt Disney Productions as a concept artist creating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,) Little Golden Books are written and illustrated by the best. Others include Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and Richard Scarry’s Busytown.
Little Golden Books continue to be popular children’s books today and reading for grown-ups. Several years ago, I was given the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. The title suggests we learned about life through the stories and illustrations found in the Little Golden Books, and the book invites the reader to revisit those stories and reflect on life. It’s a fun read. You might just enjoy the walk down memory lane. You might also be reminded of a favorite Little Golden Book story you could share with a child.
If you’re interested in reading more about Little Golden Books, seek out Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard S. Marcus (Random House, 2007).
We’d also like to offer our sincerest congratulations to illustrator Takako Fisher on the release of Springtime Babies, a Little Golden Book, on January 9! For more information, visit her website at http://www.takakofisher.com.