A hundred years ago, in 1919, the first Children’s Book Week was celebrated in the United States. Now, in honor of the centennial, the Library of Congress has made available a free online collection of a hundred children’s books from a century ago or more.
Take a look at “The Rocket Book,” by Peter Newell, an important American illustrator, published in 1912, and enjoy the way the rocket, set off by young Fritz in the basement of a building, travels up through the many different apartments on the floors above. “The book has a hole in every one of the pages where the rocket bursts a hole through the floor,” said Lee Ann Potter, the director of the learning and innovation office at the Library of Congress. “It’s so tactile and yet so old.”
Or check out “The Cats’ Party,” from 1871, which reveals in rhyme and rich illustration just what happens when the humans go away. “The antics of these kittens are as funny today as in the middle of the 19th century,” Ms. Potter said. “There’s value in that too, to realize that what we enjoy today was enjoyed by our ancestors.”
Most people think of the Library of Congress in terms of adult books, she said, but the library has an extensive collection of children’s literature.
“I hope this new collection will help open people’s eyes to what is in the holdings of our national library,” Ms. Potter said. “I’m glad these books exist and have been well taken care of.” And they can take children — and their parents and teachers — into a wide variety of stories and conversations and histories.
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts was performed by Isaiah Thomas, who had been apprenticed at the age of 6 to a printer, and had learned to read, so the story goes, from the blocks as he set type, copying documents before he actually knew the letters. “He was just learning the shape of the letters and copying what was on the sheet, they even had to build him this little bench to walk back and forth on,” said Jacqueline Coleburn, the rare book cataloger at the Library of Congress.
Thomas, who grew up to be a printer himself, was publishing a patriotic newspaper as the American Revolution approached, and his name was on a British list of those to be executed. And in July 1776, on the way from Philadelphia to Boston, he stood on the steps of the South Church in Worcester, and read the new Declaration aloud to the approving crowds.
In the newly independent United States of America, Isaiah Thomas continued in the book trade, and he printed the oldest book in the Library of Congress’s new online collection, “A Little Pretty Pocket Book,” printed in 1787. The book had initially been co-authored and published in England in 1744 by John Newbery, often described as the founding father of modern children’s literature, whose name is enduringly famous because of the Newbery Medal given every year; Thomas initially imported the book, and then began printing it himself, becoming the first American printer to publish specifically for children. Although it came from England, the book is also famous because among its rhyming descriptions of various games, it contains the first mention of one called “base-ball.”
“Well into the 19th century, most of children’s literature in America came from Britain,” Ms. Coleburn said. “It wasn’t till the 1830s and 1840s that we really focused on producing American books.” And American children’s books carried different messages, she said. “In British books often the message is, be content where you are,” she said. But with American books, the Horatio Alger story line emerges, she said: “Be a good person and you can improve your station in life and that will make you happy.”
One of the most telling aspects of “A Little Pretty Pocket Book” was the caption on the frontispiece, which promised “instruction with delight,” Ms. Coleburn said, and which was connected to new ideas circulating in the Enlightenment about how to educate children. “They were starting to catch on to the idea that if you entertain a child, it’s easier to teach him,” she said.
That approach appeals to some adults, too — notably the latest “Jeopardy!” champion, James Holzhauer, who said he gathered nuggets of trivia he needed for the game show by reading children’s books.
Classic children’s books can be beautiful and entertaining in their own right, and can show off literary and artistic genius in ways that remind us that some aspects of childhood and some ways in which children appreciate stories and pictures connect different generations and reach across eras.
On the other hand, classic children’s books can easily present images and story lines that today’s parents find problematic, either because of what is printed or illustrated on the page or because of what — and who — is left out. “We have woken up to the fact that our classic children’s stories don’t give us diversity by any stretch of the imagination,” said Maria Tatar, professor of folklore and mythology at Harvard.
That’s part of the challenge and the opportunity that parents and teachers can find in the heritage of children’s books, a chance to talk about context and the realities of history, with respect to racial and ethnic differences, and gender roles (“A Little Pretty Pocket Book” was packaged with a ball for boys or a pincushion for girls).
“Talking to children about who is represented and who is not represented, that may feel like it’s way too serious,” said Dr. Tatar, who was the co-editor with Henry Louis Gates of “The Annotated African American Folktales.” In fact, even young children can have those conversations, she said, and part of the adult’s responsibility is to make them happen in a way that’s easy and comfortable for the child. “What better place than a book, a once-upon-a-time,” she said. “This is not here and now, it’s a place we can go in our imaginations, we can think about what if.”
“We’re celebrating the fact that these books provide us with the opportunity to have conversations about what is appropriate or inappropriate, that they help us understand a different time,” Ms. Potter said. The library will be posting a blog next week specifically about approaches teachers might take to introduce these books to students and put them in context.
In 19th-century children’s literature, “the books are full of objects and they’re full of games, and for little history lessons they can be incredibly valuable,” said Patricia Crain, a professor of English at New York University, and the author of “Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth-Century America.” “The images can be really beautiful and can be a reminder that children have always been educated through images.”
And in the digital age, much as I love real books, and celebrate all that they can mean to children, this is a way of celebrating the enduring power of books and helping some old and rare ones off the shelves and into circulation. One of the books being highlighted, “The Juvenile National Calendar,” dating from 1824, is one of three known copies in the world, Ms. Potter said.
So the hope is that scholars will make use of these books, but also that children will read them and look at and listen to them with parents and teachers who can help them understand the stories and also the context.
“Some of these books are hundreds of years old and no child will ever see them except through a glass case, so it is a way to get these books into the hands of children,” Ms. Coleburn said.B:
【第】【二】【百】【八】【十】【八】【章】【终】【局】 【多】【尔】【衮】【的】【怒】【火】【正】【在】【蔓】【延】，【有】【人】【竟】【然】【敢】【当】【了】【他】【的】【面】【刺】【杀】【了】***，【这】【简】【直】【是】【奇】【耻】【大】【辱】，【尤】【其】，【还】【是】【对】【面】【的】【人】【先】【出】【手】【的】。 【这】【时】，【韩】【卫】【天】【惊】【愕】【的】【回】【头】，【发】【现】【自】【己】【最】【信】【任】【的】【部】【下】【此】【刻】【正】【保】【持】【着】【端】【枪】【射】【击】【的】【姿】【势】【看】【向】【远】【处】，【嘴】【上】【划】【过】【一】【抹】【冷】【笑】，【韩】【卫】【天】【的】【脑】【中】【忽】【然】【不】【由】【一】【阵】，【忽】【然】【一】【阵】【狂】【怒】【起】【来】。
【马】【车】【中】【闭】【目】【养】【神】【的】【叶】【风】【见】【坐】【在】【一】【旁】【的】【天】【儿】【不】【停】【地】【拿】【眼】【瞟】【向】【自】【己】：“【天】【儿】，【是】【不】【是】【有】【话】【要】【跟】【爹】【爹】【说】？” “【爹】【爹】，【我】【们】【什】【么】【时】【候】【去】【找】【蓝】【姨】【姨】？”【天】【儿】【小】【声】【问】【道】。 【叶】【风】【一】【把】【将】【他】【抱】【进】【怀】【中】：“【天】【儿】【在】【师】【公】【那】【儿】【过】【的】【不】【开】【心】【吗】？” “【师】【公】【天】【天】【逼】【着】【我】【练】【武】，【还】【不】【让】【我】【吃】【鸡】【腿】…”【天】【儿】【委】【屈】【地】【说】【道】。 “【所】【以】【天】【儿】【就】彩霸王精准一句爆特【清】【晨】，【当】【阳】【光】【照】【耀】【在】【床】【上】【的】【时】【候】，【白】【小】【眠】【醒】【了】【过】【来】。 【阳】【台】【上】【的】【月】【季】【花】【散】【发】【着】【淡】【淡】【的】【清】【香】 【她】【习】【惯】【性】【的】【伸】【出】【双】【手】【触】【摸】【着】【枕】【边】【人】【的】【地】【方】。【不】【出】【意】【料】【的】，【那】【块】【属】【于】【顾】【廷】【爵】【的】【位】【置】【连】【余】【温】【都】【已】【经】【不】【存】。 【白】【小】【眠】【下】【意】【识】【的】【这】【才】【是】【睁】【开】【了】【眼】【睛】，【手】【臂】【收】【回】【的】【瞬】【间】，【接】【触】【碰】【到】【了】【湿】【润】【的】【枕】【头】。 “【阿】【爵】……” 【微】【弱】【的】【呼】【声】，【正】【是】【从】
“【孙】【见】【香】？” “……【又】【猜】【到】【了】【是】【吧】。”【面】【无】【表】【情】【的】【剥】【着】【蜜】【桔】，【李】【黔】【宁】【表】【示】【已】【经】【见】【怪】【不】【怪】【了】，【连】【她】【怎】【么】【知】【道】【的】【都】【懒】【得】【去】【猜】【了】。 【掰】【了】【一】【瓣】【蜜】【桔】【肉】【放】【进】【嘴】【里】，【酸】【甜】【的】【汁】【水】【爆】【炸】，【刚】【吃】【完】【有】【些】【油】【腻】【的】【红】【薯】【烙】【再】【吃】【这】【个】【简】【直】【不】【要】【太】【美】【味】，【风】【潇】【潇】【开】【心】【的】【眯】【了】【眯】【眼】。 【至】【于】【为】【什】【么】【她】【会】【知】【道】【孙】【见】【香】【这】【号】【人】【物】，【完】【全】【是】【因】【为】【在】
【惊】【察】【风】【聚】【女】【身】【的】【用】【意】，【沈】【陌】【黎】【双】【手】【祭】【以】【浪】【涛】，【紧】【紧】【固】【定】【在】【结】【界】【壁】【上】，【一】【只】【足】【下】【猛】【然】【发】【力】，【往】【女】【身】【身】【上】【猛】【踢】。 【出】【乎】【意】【料】【的】【是】，【她】【用】【尽】【全】【力】【的】【一】【道】【猛】【踢】，【却】【像】【是】【踢】【在】【棉】【花】【上】，【对】【风】【聚】【女】【身】【全】【无】【作】【用】【不】【说】，【踢】【出】【去】【的】【脚】【还】【陷】【在】【女】【身】【体】【内】，【被】【风】【紧】【紧】【地】【包】【裹】【住】。 【似】【风】【呼】【啸】【的】【女】【声】【再】【次】【开】【口】：“【我】【知】【道】【你】，【莫】【离】。【想】【当】【年】【莫】
【维】【纳】【斯】【刚】【睡】【下】【就】【开】【始】【做】【梦】，【脑】【海】【里】【就】【跟】【电】【视】【剧】【播】【放】【一】【样】，【开】【始】【演】【绎】【另】【一】【个】【人】【的】【人】【生】。 【这】【个】【人】【叫】【裴】【月】。 【睡】【梦】【中】【的】【人】，【不】【知】【道】【是】【情】【绪】【激】【动】【还】【是】【怎】【么】【样】，【即】【使】【睡】【着】【了】，【表】【情】【依】【旧】【很】【痛】【苦】，【像】【是】【在】【剧】【烈】【挣】【扎】【一】【样】。 …… “【路】【易】【斯】【先】【生】，【您】【好】！” 【果】【然】【是】【个】【精】【明】【的】【人】，【沈】【时】【开】【着】【车】【刚】【一】【靠】【近】，【大】【门】【就】【自】【动】【打】【开】