These Rare Classic Children’s Books Can Now Be Read Online for Free

Rare Children's Books

Denslow's Humpty Dumpy by W.W. Denslow (1903)

Peering inside the pages of a rare, old book is any bibliophile's dream come true. While such a treat was once reserved for seasoned collectors and expert conservators, recent digitization projects have made these antique titles accessible to all kinds of audiences—including the youngest generation of readers.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Children's Book Week, the Library of Congress has added a treasure trove of 70 rare children's books to its ever-growing online archive. Rendered as a series of high-quality scans, each digitized book lets you appreciate the original illustrations and classic typography typical of books before 1924.

In order to encourage parents and children to peruse these books together, the Library of Congress has organized this collection into three themes relevant to modern-day readers: Learning to Read, Reading to Learn, and Reading for Fun. The first group promotes literacy with alphabet books like A apple pie and an all-inclusive Illustrated Primer. The second comprises learning materials, like The History of Insects. And the third section aims to “nourish the imagination” through fairytales and fiction, including The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by the beloved Beatrix Potter.

On top of offering the lessons and leisure originally intended by their authors, these old books can also contextualize history and open dialogues about diversity, representation, and other important, forward-thinking ideas. Lee Ann Potter, the director of the learning and innovation office at the Library of Congress told The New York Times, “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.”

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Children's Book Week, the Library of Congress has digitized 70 rare children's books. Get a glimpse inside this collection!

Old Children's Books

The Story of the Three Little Pigs by Leslie L. Brooke (1904)

Online Children's Books

Page from A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway (1900)

Free Children's Books

Page from Mother Goose's Storybook by McLoughlin Bros (1899)

Digitized Children's Books

Page from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

Children's Books

The Rocket Book by Peter Newell (1912)

Vintage Children's Books

Grimm's Animal Stories by Wilhelm and Jacbo Grimm (1909)

Classic Children's Books

Page from Baseball ABC by McLoughlin Bros., inc. (1885)

The Library of Congress Free Books

Page from King Winter by Gustav W. Seitz (1859)

The Library of Congress Books

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

Vintage Children's Books

Page from The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter (1905)

h/t: [Lifehacker, Open Culture]

All images via The Library of Congress.

Related Articles:

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UCLA’s Virtual Library Hosts Over 1,800 Vintage Children’s Books for Free

Library Receives Book Return From Patron That’s 73 Years Overdue

Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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