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Classic Children’s Books Collection Now Online at the Library of Congress

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In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week (April 29 to May 5, 2019), the Library of Congress has launched a unique online collection of 67 historically significant children’s books published more than 100 years ago. Drawn from the Library’s collections, Children’s Book Selections are digital versions both of classic works still read by children today and of lesser-known treasures. Local authors and illustrators gathered to read these books live at the Library in a livestreamed program.

From Humpty Dumpty to Little Red Riding Hood, the books in this collection were published in the United States and England before 1924, are no longer under copyright, and are free to read and share.

The selections span many generations and topics, and reflect three central themes:

  • Learning to Read: Materials produced to teach American children to read, such as ABC books, primers, and a wooden hornbook.
  • Reading to Learn: Materials that support classroom instruction in subjects such as mathematics, classical mythology, natural science, and the structure and function of the Unites States government.
  • Reading for Fun: Materials to nourish the imagination–fiction, poetry, fairy tales and toy books.

Highlights of the collection include examples of the work of American illustrators such as W.W. Denslow, Peter Newell and Howard Pyle, as well as works by renowned English illustrators Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway.

Comments (3)

  1. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week! Is this collection an update to the children’s books formerly linked from the site?

  2. I appreciate the challenges and cautions across the nation with COVID-19. At the same time, my 9 year old granddaughter who lives in upstate New York, has no books left to read at home and is literally begging for more. Her school library is closed. Her public libraries are closed. I’m staying in DC and the libraries here are closed.

    We do not have the funds to buy books via Amazon and have them delivered. And the ebook selections on the library websites are limited.

    Is there anyway the library of Congress can put together a crew to load ebooks for online reading by young readers around the nation. Or lead an initiative around the country for pre-reserving books from home and then drive-through pick-up at libraries around the nation.

    With all the time my granddaughter now has at home – it’s a tragedy that she wants books and can’t access them.

    Thank you listening and considering.

  3. Faith, these are important questions, especially during our current circumstances.

    The Library of Congress makes thousands of copyright-free digitized books available on its Web site; these books can be read online or downloaded as PDFs or EPUBs.

    The Library’s Today in History features are engaging articles on historical events, with links to explore the Library’s collections further.

    Also, even though most, if not all, public libraries are currently closed, many still offer digital lending programs using tools such as Overdrive or Libby, and some can point area residents to other places to find books.

    We’re glad to hear that your granddaughter is an avid reader and are confident that the libraries in her area will help her find the reading that she wants and needs!

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