Antique and Vintage Childrens Books

It wasn’t until the 18th century that books were written specifically for children. Before that, children read books intended for adults, such as Aesop’s Fables, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

Children’s books grew popular in London in the mid-1700s, and included moral stories, religious hymns, didactic literature, and poetry. As children’s books boomed, their variety expanded: from alphabet books to pop-ups and movables to fantasy, adventure, and history.

Although fairytales gained popularity with Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, they were considered inappropriate for children through most of the 19th century. Instead, children’s stories tended to focus on a moral, reminding children to behave. They often had a strong Christian message, as parents wanted to ensure that their children would be “saved” if they died young.

Early children’s books mostly lacked pictures, with the exception of occasional black and white woodcuts. In the mid-1800s, printing technology improved, and bold, colorful imagery gradually became as important as the text. Many children’s books had different illustrators for each printing run.

Three of the most notable children’s book artists in England at this time were Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott, and Walter Crane. They created the illustrations for toy books, which featured full-page illustrations and were larger than regular books.

Popular children's stories have tended to evolve over time – for example, there are multiple versions of well-known stories such as Cinderella. Some notable (and collectible) children’s book authors include Lewis Carroll, A. A. Milne, Frank Baum, Hannah More, John Harris, Juliana Horatia Ewing, Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter, and William Darton.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves

This great blog, by an anonymous mom in Texas, is an ongoing bibliography of hundreds of vintage childrens books, c… [read review or visit site]

Baldwin Library of Childrens Literature

Baldwin Library of Childrens Literature

If you’re interested in collectible childrens books, check out this special digital collection from the Universit… [read review or visit site]

Google Book Search

Google Book Search

Want to do one quick search and pull up the mother lode of vintage books? Try Google Book Search, a database filled… [read review or visit site]

Bruce Black's gallery of paperback book covers from the 1940s and 50s. With help from numerous contributors, he's a… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Lot Of 11 Vintage Wizard Of Oz Books Frank Baum Early EditionsNancy Drew Secret Of Red Gate Farm - Glossies Carolyn Keene 1932 PrintingLot Nancy Drew Hard Covers 1-51, Missing #49 Very Good Condition!Mark Twain Easton Press A Tramp Abroad Full Leather Cover American Classic 1998 Set Of 24 Complete Works Of Mark Twain 1907-1935, Authorized Edition, Harper Lewis Carroll-alice In Wonderland-18991842 1st Ed Fables Illustrated By Jj Grandville Aesop La Fontaine CommentaryLot 14 Nancy Drew #1-14 Applewood Books Facsimile Editions Hc/dj Unread LnWizard Of Oz 1903 3rd Edition Rare Book, L. Frank Baum Minty Condition See It1927 Cartoon Book Just Sposin By Nick NicholsAntique Leather Book Lot 14 Vols Set Burroughs Boxes Fables Vellum IllustratedThe Lord Of The Rings J.r.r. Tolkien Millennium Edition Hardcover W Sc 7 Vols NmRare Vintage 1927 The Tower Treasure Hardy Boys Hc Dj 1st Edition, First Issue1916 Peter Pan And Wendy Antique 1st Edition Child J.m. Barrie BookJrr Tolkien Two Towers 1st Ed 2nd Imp 1955 Lord Of The Rings. (hobbit)Alice In Wonderland Lewis Carroll 13 Colour Plates Arthur Rackham 1st Thus 19071954 The Hobbit First Edition Sixth Impression J.r.r Tolkien FantasyVintage 1922 Kabumpo In Oz Ruth Thompson Book No ReserveMark Twain Letters From Sandwich Islands Hardcover Book Limited Edition SignedLot Of 16 Vtg Hardy Boys Mystery Books Dust Jkt Franklin W. Dixon, Boy's SeriesJ R R Tolkien The Lord Of The Rings Uk 1st Edn 14/11/11 Imps Superior SetLord Of The Rings By J R R Tolkien Hc Dj 1982 3 Vol Set Fellowship Two Towers1689 Jean Commire Carmina Poetry Mythology Proverbs Prophecy Fortunes FablesLot Of 3 Cartoon & Laughs Magazine 1974-75 Snappy Humor Pinup Art Cartoons Antique Book Peter Pan And Wendy First American Edition Scribners 1911 VintageOriginal - Winnie The Pooh - A A Milne - Second Print 1926 - Others ListedFolio Society - The Silmarillion. J.r.r. TolkienThe Lord Of The Rings Trilogy Fellowship Towers King Tolkien Box SetLot Of 34 1950's Nancy Drew Mystery BooksAlice In Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass 2 Vol Ralph Steadman Old Vintage1975 Never Opened Paperback Boxed Set Jrr J. R. R. Tolkien Lord Of The Rings Nib12 Hardy Boys Applewood 1991 Facsimile Edition - Near MintVintage 1942 Lucky Bucky In Oz L Frank Baum Book No ReserveHuge Lot Of 31 Pokemon Childrens Chapter Books Mixed LotVtg 1946 Special Edition Alice In Wonderland+through The Looking Glass Set 1st 1893 Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain Jenkins/mccowan Good Lot Of 2 Snappy Humor Magazines Cartoon Humor (earle Bergey) + Cartoons For MenMark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Franklin Library Leather Ltd Edt.Adventures Of Tom Bombadil J R R Tolkien 1st Edition 1962 Dw Superb Copy Hobbit Lord Of The Rings The Fellowship Of The Ring Tolkien - First Edition Fourth Imp 1946 "alice In Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass" By Lewis Carroll 4 Big Little Books Book Blb Reg Lar Fellars Little Orphan Annie L@@kHardy Boys #23 (the Melted Coins) 1944a-1 In Poor Dust Jacket 1st EdNancy Drew Hardcover Books Assortment Pre OwnedLot Of 3 Snappy Humor Magazines Cartoon Carnival (2) Good Jive Comix Good GradeVtg Lot Of 15 Hardy Boys 1960s Series Hardcover Books Matte FinishLot Of 3 Snappy Humor Magazines Cartoon Humor (earle Bergey) + Cartoons For MenNow We Are Six - A A Milne - Early Edition 1928 - Winnie The Pooh - Others Liste1924 - When We Were Very Young - A A Milne - Winnie The Pooh - Vintage1920 - Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - Collectable Vintage EditionHuge Lot Of 26 Goosebumps R.l. Stine Fiction Childrens Chapter Books3x Vintage Childrens Illustrated BooksMixed Lot Of Childrens Books Scholastic, I Can Read It, 41 BooksVintage Drawing Book By Walter T Foster--modern Cartoon 1931 Excellent Cond!1916 Mary Louise In The Country Edith Van Dyne Rare Wizard Of Oz Author BluebirdVintage 1921 The Royal Book Of Oz L Frank Baum Book No ReserveLot 4 Antique Childrens Books Vintage Kiddie Farmers Pictures For Our DarlingsLord Of The Rings Trilogy Book Set By J.r.r. Tolkien - 50th Anniversary - HbSweet Valley Twins Books 24 Book Lot Super Chiller Super Edition &kidsAesop's Fables Easton Press 100 Greatest Books Leather Bound Luxury Edition