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    

1667 Phaedrus Fabularum Aesopiarum Aesops Fables Latin & Greek Engravings VellumThe Hobbit There And Back Again J. R. R. Tolkien 1938 1st/1stPeter Pan In Kensington Gardens J. M. Barrie Arthur Rackham 1906 1907 1st ? Us1907 First Edition - Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - Illus By RackhamArthur Rackham Lewis Carroll Alice In Wonderland Unrecorded Swedish Edition 1946Easton Press Leather: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy Tolkien, Includes 3 MapsThe Story Of Kullervo - J.r.r. Tolkien, Easton Press Genuine Leather Hb1977 Alice In Wonderland Lewis Carroll Easton Press Tenniel Illus Fantasy Movie1885 Innocents Abroad Mark Twain Illus Europe Middle East Tom Sawyer Huck Finn $1872 Alice In Wonderland Lewis Carroll Illustrated John Tenniel Antique BookJoe R. Lansdale Dread Island Signed Limited Hardcover Mark Twain 2010 Rare OopLife On The Mississippi Mark Twain 1883 Samuel Clemens Owner Signed E A SydallThe Return Of The Shadow - J.r.r. Tolkien, Easton Press Genuine Leather HbFirst Edition Set - The Lord Of The Rings - J R R Tolkien - 1959-1961 - Hobbit1729.. Rare...tales Epistles, Odes, Fables Of Homer.with Perfecting English Lang1897 Twain 1st/1st *1st State* Following The Equator 193 Illus Thick 712p (fine)Easton Press The Silmarillion Tolkien Full Leather Very Good Condition - No ResRare Vintage Oz 28 School Kids Issue 1970 Underground Counter Culture MagazineEaston Press 'the Hobbit Or There And Back Again' By Jrr Tolkien 1984 LeatherVtg 1953 Spiegel Christmas Catalog Pinocchio Cover Book Wish Holiday Shopping1919 Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens J.m. Barrie Arthur Rackham Color Illus BookSet Of 4 Easton Press Winnie The Pooh By A. A. Milne Leather Bound HardcoversAntique Peepshow Pictures Childrens Pop Up Book Victorian 1896 Popup Punch Judy1934 ..alice In Wonderland..scarce Folio Stand-ups Book..unusedAntique Victorian Changing Pictures Transformation Pop Up Childrens Book 1896Lot Of 61 Young Children's Books, Dr. Seuss And Disney, Kindergarten, Preschool43 Hardy Boys Series Matte Hardcover Book Lot Franklin W. Dixon1889 Childrens Book, Travels Of Little Lord Thumb And His Man DamianTramp Abroad Mark Twain 1879 Hartford First Edition No Reserve1927.. Aa We Are Six...fine Copy, Second Issue With Another CopyNancy Drew Mystery Books Complete Set 1-56 Vintage1955 Mid Century Spiegel Christmas Catalog Marx Toys Disney Radio Flyer Wagon+++1950s B.f. Goodrich Toy Catalog Pedal Cars Radio Gilbert Trains Marx DisneyFollowing The Equator A Journey Around The World Mark Twain 1897 Kids Book Lot Of 22-junie B. Jones, Rainbow Magic,diary Of A Wimpy Kid+more!lookThe Silmarillion By J. R. R. Tolkien (1977, Hardcover) Hcdj~1st Ed~with MapL Frank Baum: The Land Of Oz ~ 1939 Edition ~ Reilly & LeeVintage Alice In Wonderland Book By Lewis Carroll,illustrated By D.r.sexton.Vintage Nancy Drew Mysteries Hard Cover Collection 1979 48 BooksLot Of Four Easton Press Dumas, Swift, Stevenson, Twain Ships Free MintLot Of 50 Little Golden Books Childrens Vintage Hb/ 19 A EditionThe Cowardly Lion Of Oz By Ruth Plumly Thompson / 1st Ed. / 1923 / Color PlatesLot Of 14 Nancy Drew Books Yellow Matte Hardcover Carolyn KeeneLot Of 18 Kids Pokemon Books1889 - The Biter Bit; Or The Sad End Of A Tail - Victorian Childrens BookThe Wonderful Wizard Of Oz Commemorative Pop-up By Robert Sabuda NipLate 19thc Father Tucks Nursery Tales Heads + Tails Childrens Book Raphael TuckLate 19thc Father Tucks Family Pets Puggy At Home Childrens Book Raphael TuckLot Of 84 Non-fiction Readers Childrens Kids Softcover BooksPatti Smith Autographed Just Kids Poet And Musical Artist Writes Love StoryLenox Disney 24 Jar Spice Rack Collectors ItemFolio Society (1979) Tolkien The Hobbit 1st Ed, 1st Printing In Slipcase. Lot Of 31 Berenstain Bears Stan Jan Kids Childrens Picture Hc Sc Books300 Aesop's Fables: Literally Translated From The Greek -114 Illustrated LeatherGreat Set! Junie B Jones, First Grader Childrens Books. Lot OfWalt Disney's Uncle Remus Stories A Golden Book (1976)1944 The Wizard Of Oz L. Frank Baum Dj Color Illus Movie Fantasy Childrens NovelLot Of 33 Zoobooks Animal Childrens Kids Magazines4 Vintage Little Golden Books ~ Cave Kids, Touche Turtle, Huckleberry Hound +Vintage 1903 The Original Oz Book The Wizard Of Oz Hardback - Baum