In honor of the 100th anniversary of the first Children's Book Week, a new collection of classic books has been made available, for free, to the public. The Library of Congress just digitized 70 classic children's books, including The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter and a first-edition copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and you can read them today in the comfort of your own home.
The 70 books in the Library of Congress' "Children's Book Selections" collection are not new to the national library. Each book was published in 1920 or before, and therefore the entire collection falls into the public domains of both the U.S. and U.K. According to the collection's "About" page, "This special collection presents children’s books selected from the General and Rare Book Collections at the Library of Congress. The collection includes classic works that are still read by children today, and lesser-known treasures drawn from the Library’s extensive collection of historically significant children’s books."
Scrolling through the Library of Congress' curated list is like taking a walk down memory lane. Although the titles in the "Children's Book Selections" collection are more than a century old, many will be familiar to modern-day readers of all ages. You'll no doubt recognize the Potter and Baum tales above, as well as The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving. The collection also includes many familiar names and faces, such as Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, Humpty Dumpty, and Mother Goose.
Even the forgotten titles in "Children's Book Selections" will delight and amaze you, however. Cat lovers will enjoy The Cats' Party, which tells of "Meek Mistress Grimalkin, so fat and hearty," who "[o]nce gave to her kittens a nice little party," and which features a few lush illustrations of cats in cute clothes. Another book, The Circus Procession, offers details about the eponymous parade as it passes, headed first by a king and queen, and finished off when "A soldier comes! On stilts he's stalking!" The strangest book, Gobolinks, or Shadow Pictures for Young and Old by Ruth McEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine, purports to show inkblot creatures called Gobolinks, saying "[T]he shape of the Gobolink never was born. / He comes like the marvelous mimes of our dreams, / When one has been supping on salad and creams, / And curious changes of vision take place — / The horse may appear with an elephant face — / The goat with a cane, and the goose with a hat — / Six legs on the dog, and two tails on the cat."
Check out the full collection of "Children's Book Selections" on the Library of Congress' website, and share your favorite children's classics with me on Twitter!