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    

J. R. R. Tolkien Lord Of The Rings Uk 1st Editions 3 Vols + D/w 1962/3Antique 1883 Life On The Mississippi Mark Twain Clemens Leather Bound Book RjiHuge Lot/29 Dr. Seuss Beginner Kids/childrens Hardcover Books Bright & Early1928 First Printing Edition Winnie The Pooh House At Corner Bear Child A A MilneTolkien The Hobbit 1957 9th (lord Of Rings Silmarillion Related) Alice In Wonderland Antique First Edition Alice's Rare Adventures Lewis CarrollLot Of 24 Vintage Nancy Drew Mystery Books Set-carolyn KeeneJ. R. R. Tolkien 1922 Poems For Children Oxford 1st Edition Robert GravesLot 26 Nancy Drew Books 1932-1952 Many With Dust Jackets75 Lot Vintage Children Books Little Golden Book Disney Sesame Street Mickey Lgb1965 Lotr J.r.r. Tolkien 2nd Ed. Hc/dj Case Set Lord Of The Rings Hobbit Mint-30 Books 3rd Grade Bailey School Kids Magic School Bus Children's Chapter LotLot Of 100 Vintage Little Golden Books Christmas, Walt Disney, Sesame StreetAlice In Wonderland With 24 Coloured Plates By Margaret W. TarrantLord Of The Rings By J. R. R. Tolkien, 1st Edition, 3 Volume (hardback, 1957)Easton Press Lot Of 10 Classics Treasue Island Twain Leather Fine BindingsSet Of 29 Matching Hardy Boys Mystry's Hard Cover Books Copyright 1969Nancy Drew Lot Vintage Children's Book Lot Nancy Drew Mysteries Book Lot1868 Alice In Wonderland By Lewis Carroll 10th Thousand Antique BookA A Milne - Whe We Were Very Young - First Edition 1924Dr Seuss Board Books For Kids Small Lot Of 12The Marvelous Land Of Oz - L. Frank Baum 1904 - First Edition, First PrintingWizard Of Oz Story Book 1939 Film Tie-in Very Rare Ww Denslow Judy Garland MovieLot Of 42 Vintage Hardy Boys Hardcover Books Plus Detective HandbookTolkien The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil First Edition 2nd Printing 1962J.r.r. Tolkien 3 Sf Pb Ace Unauthorized Lord Rings Fellowship/two Towers/returnVintage Whitman Better Little Book ~ Donald Duck Headed For Trouble Walt DisneyEstate Sale - Easton Press "tom Sawyer" By Mark Twain Illus. By Norman RockwellLot Of 75 Little Golden Books Vintage/modern Christmas Disney Wilkin Sesame St, Set Lot 22 Nancy Drew--glossy Yellow--hc--mystery Stories--carolyn KeeneChildrens Paperback Bill Peet Picture Book Lot Of 5 The Elephant AntJ.r.r. Tolkien - Lord Of The Rings - Faux Suede Lthr Deluxe 1st ThusAntique Just Still William Book William 1925 & Dust Cover Childrens HardbaVintage Whitman Big Little Book ~ Little Orphan Annie & The Mysterious ShoemakerLot Of 50 Hardy Boys Detective Novels! Wholesome Mysteries! Complete 1-50!!!Huge Lot Level 1 Step Into Reading 30 Books Children Disney Readers NiceExcellent Vintage 1972 The Bible Story Arthur Maxwell Vol 1-10 Childrens BooksLot 20: Berenstain Bears First Time Childrens Books Ages 4-8, Heavy PaperbackAlice In Wonderland Centenary Edition-gwynedd M HudsonLot Of 75 Vintage Children's Books, Whitman Tell A Tale, Walt Disney And More!Excellent 19thc Leather Bound/illustrated Copy Of The Fables Of La Fontaine1933 Letters Lewis Carroll 1st Edition Alice In Wonderland Dodgson Illus Rare $$Wonderful 24 Volume Set Complete Works Of Mark Twain Harper And Brothers Lot Set Of 28 Junie B Jones Barbara Park Reading Books Childrens Verygood Cond. Disney The Art Of Mulan By Jeff Kurtti (1998, Hardcover) Excellent ConditionWalt Disney's Epcot Hardcover W/dj (1982) 1st EditionDisney's Frozen Hide And Hug Olaf + Do You Want A Hug? Picture Book & Olaf PlushVintage Little Golden Book ~ (sydney) Walt Disney's Old Yeller ~ Great!Huge Lot Of 46 Vintiage Nancy Drew Books--1949-1969--excellent ConditionVintage Antique Nancy Drew Mystery Books ~ Lot Of 12 ~ 1931-72 First Edition 1stAntique Book Alice In Wonderland By Lewis CarrollVintage Ozma And The Little Wizard /l. Frank Baum Very Nice! Author Oz Books!Life Magazine October 15, 1971 - Disney World Opens In Framed DisplayHallmark Disney Mickey Mouse Recipe Organizer Cook Book With Spoon Lot Of 24 1992 The Little Mermaid's Treasure Chest Disney Hc Books Ages 4-8 L. Frank Baum Jack Pumpkinhead And The Sawhorse Of Oz'alice In Wonderland' Carroll. 48 Plates By M. Tarrant. Ward, Lock & Co Ltd 1916Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain Antique Book 1894 Fables By The Late Mr Gay.1737. Fifth Edition Original Boards..Lot 14 Calvin And Hobbes Cartoon Comic Strip Books ~ Bill Watterson