Children's books

Beauty and the beast illustration by Walter CraneOur largest collection of material relating to children's books is the Children's Collection. This contains books and periodicals dating from the eighteenth century to the present day, although the main focus of collecting has been from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.

The collection is particularly strong in the following areas:

  • School stories by writers including Elinor Brent-Dyer, Angela Brazil, Talbot Baines Reed, Elsie Oxenham and Frank Richards.
  • Children's periodicals and annuals including the Boy's Own Paper, the Girl's Own Paper, The Children's NewspaperAunt Judy's Magazine, the Monthly Packet and the Eagle. We also hold a short run of Gioventù Fascista ('Fascist Youth'), an Italian fascist youth magazine.
  • Illustrated books by artists including Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott and Kathleen Hale, author and illustrator of the Orlando the Marmalade Cat books. We also hold a small collection of illustrated editions of the children's story books by the French author Père Castor.

Firth ChapbooksWe have a number of examples of early children's books and chapbooks, some of which are featured in James Gibbs's scrapbooks [see image above], and the Museum of English Rural Life has a example of a hornbook (MERL 52/344).

Our collections relating to children's books are of interest to students and researchers studying English literature, but also students and researchers in typography, history and art history.

Our collections can be used to support teaching and learning at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and for school groups.

Detail from University of Reading Christmas card featuring Orlando the Marmalade CatOther collections relating to children's books

Come to the Farm coverThe library of the Museum of English Rural Life also contains a number of children's books and examples of teaching resources relating to the teaching of farming and agricultural issues and history.

Some examples of our children's books on farming and agriculture were featured in our exhibition Come to the farm : children's books on farming.

Other University collections

Our holdings complement the collections relating to children's books held at the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication.

The Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design Collections held in Typography have many examples of children’s books, including those produced by Marie Neurath and the Isotype Institute from the late 1940s to the 1970s; books for the teaching of reading in the twentieth century, including those of particular typographic interest, such as the use of the initial teaching alphabet in the 1960s and bilingual reading books.

The ephemera collections also contain examples of educational material that relates to reading in context.

For more information about the 'Isotype Revisited' research project, click here.

Researchers can also contact Professor Sue Walker for more information about the collections held in Typography.

The Teaching Practice Collection, held at the University Library, contains recent children’s fiction and non-fiction, a range of text books to GCSE level, music scores and multimedia items including kits, scientific models, realia and picture sets.

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