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    

1955 Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King First Edition J.r.r Tolkien HobbitMath/english 3rd Grade Entering 4th Summer Splash Kids Workbook 96pRare Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens 1909 Arthur Rackham 50 Plates Antique Old1896 Alice In Wonderland Antique Lewis Carroll Alice's Art Adventures Rare BookThe Nursery Alice By Lewis Carroll - Macmillan & Co 1889 - Alice In Wonderland840+ Walt Disney's/ Disney Comics - Mostly Australian Comic Books From 1950's OnJ.r.r.tolkien,the Lord Of The Rings,india Paper Edition,1974.Tolkien. Lord Of The Rings.1st Edition, 5th, 4th, 2nd Impressions. 1955/56. Lotr2 Divine 1930's Vintage Story Books Alice In Wonderland/what Katy Did At SchoolTime And Money Grade 1st 2nd 3rd 80p Kids Workbook Teacher Resource Book AnswersTolkien, The Fellowship Of The Ring, 1st/1st Us Ed W/ Dust Jacket!Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens Illustrated By Arthur Rackham. C 1920. 16 PlatesWinnie The Pooh. A. A. Milne 4 Very Early Editions 1927. E H Shepard. 4 VolumesTolkien The Lord Of The Rings Alan Lee Limited Signed (hobbit Middle Earth) Wizard Of Oz , 14 Hardcover Children's Book Set, L. Frank Baum, Reilly & LeeMother Goose Antique First Edition Gustave Dore Old Nursery Rhymes A Fairy TalesRoyal Wizard Of Oz L Frank Baum Fairy Tale Toy Fun Kid Animal Story Color HomeHuge Lot Of 13 Dr. Seuss Bright & Early I Can Read Childrens Hardback HomeschoolTolkien "the History Of Middle Earth" 12 Hardcover Volumes, First U.s. EditionsExquisite Antique French Childrens Book - Paris - Shabby Beauty!!Lewis Carroll Alice In Wonderland Everyman Library 1934 Old Illustrated BookThe 1,000,000. Bank Note Mark Twain 1893 First Edition Tolkien The Return Of The King, 1st American Edition, 1st Printing1824 Fables Of Jean De La Fontaine French Literature Children’s IllustratedHuge Lot-complete Set- Nancy Drew Hcovers - Matte 56 BkThe Hobbit ~ Jrr Tolkien 1978 1st Guild Publ Faux Leather & Gilt ~ HardcoverThe Lost Princess Of Oz - Vintage 1939 Rand Mcnally Children's Book L Frank BaumHardy Boys Complete Book Set Collection 1 Thru 58Set Of 28 Vintage Carolyn Keene Nancy Drew Books - Must SeeThe Gilded Age ~ A Tale Of Today ~ Mark Twain 1874 First EditionLot Of 37 Scooby-doo Mystery Cartoon Network Childrens Kids Books1914 - Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens - J. M. Barrie. Illust. By Arthur RackhamLot Of 25 Berenstain Bears Childrens Kids Picture Books3 Vintage Little Golden Books ~ Disney's Peter Pan & Wendy, Peter Pan & PiratesThe Emerald City Of Oz - Vintage 1939 Rand Mcnally Children's Book L Frank BaumThe House At Pooh Corner 1928 A. A. Milne 1st Edition 1st Print Uk Methuen1629 Daniel Heinsius, Laus Asini, Latin Fables, Satire, Essays, Elzevir, VellumThe "pop-up" Pinocchio - 1st Edition 1932 Illustrated By Harold LentzThe Good Tiger Rare Childrens Book By Elizabeth Bowen & Quentin Blake - Hk W24Lot Of 43 Arch Bible Stories Christian Prayer Religious Reading Kids Books The Fellowship Of The Ring 1st Revised Edition 1966 Tolkien Lord Of The RingsTolkien Lotr Lord Of The Rings Trilogy Set 1965 Second Edition With MapsThe Hobbit - J.r.r. Tolkien Limited Edition Box Set - Rare - Nice Shape - Look!!The Silmarillion By Jrr Tolkien. 1st Edition 1977 HardcoverLot Of 8 Dr Seuss Bright & Early Hardcover Childrens Books Very Good Condition!Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain, 1939, Lec, 1/1500, Signed By Thomas BentonLot Of 30 Stephen Cosgrove Serendipity Childrens BooksLeft Behind, The Kids Series 19 - 40, Jerry B. Jenkins And Tim Lahaye1920 Alice In Wonderland Oxford Press London "catterpillar" Error Antique BookL Frank Baum Vtg Collection Of 9 Oz Hb Books_ 4 First Edition W/dustjackets Dj The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil, J.r.r. Tolkien - 1962 - 1st Uk Edition (hobbitt)Lot Of 29 Dr Seuss Childrens Books Various TitlesOjo In Oz 1933 Hardcover Book By Ruth Plumly Thompson Frank Baum5 Antique Childrens Books From The Late 1800's To The Mid 30's:mother Goose+++Lot Of 25 Dr. Seuss Mixed Children Kids Learn To Read Picture Books Cat Hat#617Nancy Drew 24-book Lot All Different All Yellow Non-glossy Lot #a11Mickey Mouse In Blaggard Castle By Walt Disney Blb 726 1934 VfNancy Drew 1947 Walt Disney Uncle Remus Stories Song Of The South Hardcover W/dustjacket4 Mary Poppins Books Door,back,park P. L. Travers (2000, Hardcover) Special Edit