Free to Use and Reuse: Classic Children’s Page Turners

This is a guest post by Sasha Dowdy, program specialist in the Library’s Young Readers Center.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum with illustrations by W.W. Denslow.

Ever since I was in elementary school, books have been bridge-builders for me. I am not a native English-speaker—my first language is Russian, and my second is Japanese—so as a child, it was a challenge sometimes to connect with the language in my classroom.

Enter “The Wizard of Oz” in the hands of my Canadian tutor. I knew the general story, but it came alive when I started slowly piecing the language puzzle together into portraits of Dorothy and her friends. Not only did I want to keep reading after our weekly two hours were up—I wanted to write my own stories about Oz. My English was still imperfect, but I was excited about it for the first time and anxious to put it to use. How could I resist, knowing that I was acquiring tools to tap into a completely new realm of stories? That’s how I started finding creative inspiration and building small bridges to bring the world of English-language stories closer to my own.

“The Wizard of Oz” is one of the public domain books available on Read.gov that we’re highlighting this month on the “free to use and reuse” feature on the Library’s home page. Each month, the website showcases digitized content from the Library’s collections that has no known copyright restrictions—meaning you can use it as you wish. Imagine the connections you can make with the books we’re featuring this month: all you need is Internet access! Scroll down for more selections.

The 1928 edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is full of the whimsical illustrations we have grown to love. This copy even has a title page signed by Lewis Carroll. The book inspired movies, video games, theater productions and numerous literary works. What role did Alice play in your life?

An illustration by John Tenniel for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll.

This 1913 edition of “The Jungle Book” contains vivid illustrations. Bonus content: you can find a New York Public Library stamp on pages 4, 5, and 6—imagine the journey it took to arrive at the Library of Congress! How far have you traveled with your favorite book?

“The Jungle Book,” by Rudyard Kipling with illustrations by M. and E. Detmold.

This 1915 edition of “Mother Goose Finger Plays” has photographs demonstrating how adults can put on finger-puppet shows with youngsters while following along with the story. You will find familiar rhymes that have lasted in our memories for over a century!

“Mother Goose Finger Plays” by Irene Margaret Cullison.

 

Print your own pages from the 1907 edition of “The Twelve Magic Changelings” and reenact the stories or make up your own based on the brilliantly colorful images in cutouts of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, Robinson Crusoe or Humpty Dumpty.

“The Twelve Magic Changelings,” by M.A. Glen.

Relive the haunting of “The Raven,” accompanied by deliciously creepy illustrations from the 1884 edition. The introduction sets exactly the right tone: “The secret of a poem, no less than a jest’s prosperity, lies in the ear of him that hears it.” What better way to start the chills running down your spine?

“The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe with illustrations by Gustave Doré.

Visit Read.gov to explore more classics from decades and centuries past. No matter whether you share them out loud, use them as learning materials, draw creative inspiration from them or enjoy them as bridges to other people, times or worlds—they are waiting to be read and loved again and again.

We would love to hear how you connect with these books, so please comment below!

Free to Use and Reuse: John Margolies Photographs of Roadside America

An earlier version of this post, written by Micah Messenheimer, assistant curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division, was published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog. A giant coffee pot that doubles as a restaurant, drive-in movie theaters, old gas pumps and vintage hotels: these are but a few of the examples included […]

Free to Use and Reuse: 19th-Century Portrait Photos

Military brass, senators, socialites and even babies—these are a handful of Washington, D.C., subjects photographed by Charles Milton Bell (1848–93) during the last quarter of the 19th century. The Library recently digitized more than 25,000 glass plate negatives produced by Bell and his successors between 1873 and the early years of the 20th century. The photographs document […]

Free to Use and Reuse: Gorgeous Gardens, Breakthrough Buildings and Notable Designs

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952) loved beautiful gardens. From 1915 through the 1930s, she shared her enthusiasm in lectures to garden club members, museum groups and horticultural societies. No doubt her listeners valued her knowledge of gardens—but they may have enjoyed her visual examples even more. Johnston—one of the first women to achieve international prominence as […]

From High Style to Humble: Surveying America’s Built Environment

Settlers’ cabins, high-style mansions, jails, barns and churches. These are just a few of the properties the Historic American Buildings Survey has painstakingly documented over the past 80 plus years. The Library started digitizing the survey’s records—many of them stunning and unique—20 years ago, providing public access on its website. Known as HABS for short, […]

Free to Use and Reuse: Travel Posters

Faraway states, natural wonders and beautiful beaches—these are the settings that often come to mind as we start to plan our summer vacations. They also form the backdrop of hundreds of travel posters in the Library’s collections, including an assortment featured this month on the Library’s home page. The featured posters are U.S. government works, […]