History of Collectible children's literature

In a historical context, the term “ children's literature ” is a fairly young phenomenon since the children's books emerged as a distinct and independent genre only a little more than two centuries ago. I thought my readers would enjoy and appreciate a short recap of history related to the children's books, as well as some interesting facts related to the most famous examples of the genre.

Prior to the eighteenth century books rarely were created for children, and even those books that were created were not intended for pure amusement, but rather for educational purposes, such as grammar books, religious books, and books on manners. At the end of the 17th and early 18th centuries it became evident that there is a need for children to read for pleasure and enjoyment, not only to satisfy educational needs. The writings of such philosophers as Locke and Rousseau influenced British educators to take a more humane approach to education in which enjoyment was considered an aid to learning.

By the early eighteenth century interest in children's literature (and a rise in literary) led to new markets and a flourishing of new publishers, particularly in England. The most important of the early publishers was John Newbery (1713-67). Newbery ran his London bookshop from 1745 to 1767, publishing vast quantities of children's literature of all types as well as a wide range of books on reading, philosophy, and science.

Other enterprising London publishers who succeeded Newbery were John Harris, who published a number of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, and John Marshall, whose books were published in a variety of forms, including the first infant libraries. Children's literature at this time ranged from the more expensive editions to the widely published chapbooks, inexpensive pamphlets distributed by peddlers throughout the countryside.

The two most significant genres of eighteenth century children's literature were the fairy tale and the moral tale. Fairy tales, which had been passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition, were first collected and put into print at the French court of Louis XIV and contain the first written versions of such timeless tales as "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty," "Red Riding Hood," "Blue Beard”, “Puss in the Boots,” and others. “Moral” or cautionary tales, in which good children were rewarded and bad children were appropriately punished, were generally of less interest with regard to illustrations than were fairy tales, but it was not until well into the nineteenth century that fairy tales came to dominate the children's book market.

The nineteenth century heralded the arrival of timeless children classics as the understanding of childhood as a period of time to be enjoyed, took a more definitive shape. During the latter half of the century many of the classics of children's literature in English appeared, including Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868-69), Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883), Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), and Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1894). This period also saw the emergence of the picture book in which illustrations - and the artist's vision - were at least as important as the text.

In the twentieth century near-universal literacy in developed countries and technical advances made it possible to produce relatively inexpensive high-quality illustrated books that have contributed to the tremendous growth in children's literature publishing. Nothing, however, could compare with the glory and splendor of W. W. Denslow's illustrations for L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). These illustrations included one hundred two-color images and twenty-four full-color plates, making it one of the most elaborate books of its time.

I was always curious in these days of technological advances as to the level of interest that is being exhibited towards what I would consider the examples of classic children’s literature, namely the books that withstood the test of time. I decided to take a look at the Wikipedia’s List of classic children's literature ( Wikipedia ). Most of these books were printed prior to 1960 and each has over 1 million searches on Google worldwide (I have to note that while using Google search may provide accurate statistics in general, it does not always take into consideration a variety of other factors. For example, searching for “Peter Pan,” gives stats not only for books, but also movies, characters, costumes, Disney, toys, games, etc. In order to make sure that I am not comparing apples and oranges, I only chose in the first sampling to provide books-related statistics in order to achieve the most accurate results).

These are statistics for 82 titles with monthly searches in Google worldwide and US:

Title - Author - Year

World search

US search

Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights

12,100

4400

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - 1853

3,600

2,400

Aesop's Fables - William Caxton (Translation) - 1484

1,000

320

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes - 1616

12,100

2,900

A Token for Children - James Janeway - 1675

170

91

Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan - 1678

12,100

5,400

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - 1719

2,400

720

Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome - 1930-1931

12,100

1,300

Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift - 1726

1,000

480

Tales of Mother Goose - Charles Perrault - 1729 (English)

720

390

Little Pretty Pocket-book - John Newbery - 1744

390

210

Little Goody Two Shoes - Oliver Goldsmith - 1765

320

210

The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann Rudolf Wyss - 1812-1813

8,100

3,600

The Nutcracker and the King of Mice - E.T.A Hoffman – 1816

210

140

Ivanhoe - Walter Scott - 1819

590

320

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving - 1819

1,900

1,000

Rip Van Winkle - Washington Irving - 1820

2,900

1,900

Grimm's Fairy Tales - Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm - 1823 (English)

3,600

2,400

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo - 1831

720

390

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - 1843

6,600

3,600

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas, pre - 1844

1,900

880

Fairy Tales - Hans Christian Andersen - 1846 (English)

3,600

1,000

The Children of the New Forest - Frederick Marryat – 1847

2,400

140

Slovenly Peter - Heinrich Hoffmann - 1848 (English)

320

260

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – 1850

18,100

2,900

The Coral Island - R. M. Ballantyne – 1857

2,900

1,000

Tom Brown's Schooldays - Thomas Hughes - 1857

880

170

The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley – 1863

5,400

1,600

A Journey to the Center of the Earth - Jules Verne - 1864

2,900

1,000

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - 1865

9,900

2,900

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates - Mary Mapes Dodge – 1865

880

720

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott – 1868

9,900

4,400

Lorna Doone - R. D. Blackmore – 1869

210

73

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea - Jules Verne - 1870

8,100

3,600

At the Back of the North Wind - George MacDonald – 1871

880

590

The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald - 1871

8,100

4,400

Through the Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll - 1871

1,900

1,000

What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge - 1873

210

28

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain - 1876

6,600

3,600

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell – 1877

3,600

1,600

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle - 1883

5,400

2,900

Nights with Uncle Remus - Joel Chandler Harris - 1883

1,300

1,000

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1883

12,100

6,600

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain - 1884

1,900

1,600

Heidi - Johanna Spyri - 1884 (English)

6,600

1,000

King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard - 1885

4,400

1,000

Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1886

5,400

1,900

Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1886

9,900

3,600

The Happy Prince and Other Tales - Oscar Wilde - 1888

14,800

1,600

The Blue Fairy Book - Andrew Lang - 1889

1,000

590

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi - 1891 (English)

6,600

2,400

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling - 1894

4,400

1,900

Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner - 1894

1,300

91

Moonfleet - J. Meade Falkner – 1898

27,100

1,000

The Story of the Treasure Seekers - E. Nesbit - 1899

590

170

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum - 1900

18,100

8,100

Five Children and It - E. Nesbit – 1902

5,400

1,300

Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling - 1902

6,600

2,900

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter - 1902

5,400

2,900

King Arthur and His Knights - Howard Pyle - 1902-3

4,400

2,900

The Call of the Wild - Jack London - 1903

8,100

4,400

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm - Kate Douglas Wiggin – 1903

3,600

2,400

Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie – 1904

5,400

1,900

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1905

880

260

The Railway Children - E. Nesbit - 1906

27,100

1,300

White Fang - Jack London – 1906

1,600

1,000

Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery - 1908

2,400

1,300

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame - 1908

1,000

320

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1909/1911

3,600

1,600

The Lost World - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - 1912

880

260

Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter – 1913

590

320

The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay - 1918

1,900

140

Winnie The Pooh - A.A Milne - 1926

3,600

1,300

House At Pooh Corner - A.A Milne - 1927

1,000

480

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien – 1937

3,600

1,900

Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren - 1945

2,400

1,300

Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown - 1947

1,900

1,000

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - 1943

4,400

1,600

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis – 1950

4,400

2,400

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien - 1954-1955

18,100

8,100

Momo - Michael Ende – 1973

12,100

390

The Never Ending Story - Michael Ende - 1979

1,600

480



After sorting data Worldwide,below is a list of top 30 titles

Title - Author – Year

World search

US search

Moonfleet - J. Meade Falkner – 1898

27,100

1,000

The Railway Children - E. Nesbit - 1906

27,100

1,300

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – 1850

18,100

2,900

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum – 1900

18,100

8,100

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien - 1954-1955

18,100

8,100

The Happy Prince and Other Tales - Oscar Wilde 11888

14,800

1,600

Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights

12,100

4400

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes – 1616

12,100

2,900

Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan – 1678

12,100

5,400

Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome - 1930-1931

12,100

1,300

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1883

12,100

6,600

Momo - Michael Ende – 1973

12,100

390

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - 1865

9,900

2,900

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott – 1868

9,900

4,400

Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1886

9,900

3,600

The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann Rudolf Wyss - 1812-3

8,100

3,600

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea - Jules Verne - 1870

8,100

3,600

The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald - 1871

8,100

4,400

The Call of the Wild - Jack London - 1903

8,100

4,400

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - 1843

6,600

3,600

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain - 1876

6,600

3,600

Heidi - Johanna Spyri - 1884 (English)

6,600

1,000

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi - 1891 (English)

6,600

2,400

Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling - 1902

6,600

2,900

The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley - 1863

5,400

1,600

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle - 1883

5,400

2,900

Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1886

5,400

1,900

Five Children and It - E. Nesbit - 1902

5,400

1,300

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter - 1902

5,400

2,900

SortingData by US

Title - Author – Year

World search

US search

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum - 1900

18,100

8,100

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien - 1954-1955

18,100

8,100

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1883

12,100

6,600

Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan – 1678

12,100

5,400

Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights

12,100

4400

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott – 1868

9,900

4,400

The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald - 1871

8,100

4,400

The Call of the Wild - Jack London – 1903

8,100

4,400

Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1886

9,900

3,600

The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann Rudolf Wyss - 1812-3

8,100

3,600

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea - Jules Verne - 1870

8,100

3,600

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – 1843

6,600

3,600

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain - 1876

6,600

3,600

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – 1850

18,100

2,900

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes – 1616

12,100

2,900

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - 1865

9,900

2,900

Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling - 1902

6,600

2,900

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle - 1883

5,400

2,900

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter – 1902

5,400

2,900

King Arthur and His Knights - Howard Pyle - 1902-3

4,400

2,900

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi - 1891 (English)

6,600

2,400

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis - 1950

4,400

2,400

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens – 1853

3,600

2,400

Grimm's Fairy Tales - Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm - 1823 (English)

3,600

2,400

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm - Kate Douglas Wiggin – 1903

3,600

2,400

Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson – 1886

5,400

1,900

Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie – 1904

5,400

1,900

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling – 1894

4,400

1,900

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien – 1937

3,600

1,900



Conclusion: Based on the data above, it appears that the search for the Wizard of Oz books is at the very top (first place) with the Lord of the Rings books.

As a next step, I decided to modify the search by expanding the scope of search to a theme, rather than only books (For example, a person who is looking for Peter Pan bus service might first type "Peter Pan” in the Google search, and then refine it later to “bus”, “transportation”, etc.). This is the list of 25 most popular titles that came up in the World and the US:

Title - Author - Year

World search

US search

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - 1865

4,090,000

1,500,000

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle - 1883

3,350,000

673,000

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien - 1954-1955

2,740,000

823,000

Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie - 1904

2,240,000

550,000

Winnie The Pooh - A.A Milne - 1926

1,500,000

450,000

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum - 1900

1,220,000

823,000

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson - 1883

823,000

450,000

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - 1843

673,000

301,000

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes - 1616

673,000

135,000

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi - 1891 (English)

673,000

135,000

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain - 1876

450,000

135,000

The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling - 1894

368,000

135,000

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien – 1937

368,000

165,000

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain - 1884

301,000

246,000

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - 1719

301,000

40,500

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell – 1877

246,000

74,000

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas, père - 1844

201,000

74,000

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett - 1905

201,000

49,500

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott - 1868

165,000

90,500

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - 1853

165,000

110,000

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo - 1831

135,000

60,500

The Call of the Wild - Jack London - 1903

110,000

74,000

Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights

22,200

12,100

Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan - 1678

12,100

5,400

The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald - 1871

9,900

5,400

 

It is interesting tonote the comparison of popularity of a particular title in the US vs. theWorld. For example, both titles, “Lord of the Rings” and “Wizard of Oz,” have thesame number of searches in the US (823,000 monthly), yet the “Lord of the Rings”has twice as many searches worldwide.

Below is a list of some otherpopular titles for comparison purposes.

Title - Author - Year

World search

US search

Harry Potter

24,900,000

6,120,000

Cinderella

2,740,000

823,000

Dracula

1,500,000

301,000

Frankenstein

1220000

550000

To Kill a Mockingbird

823,000

673,000

Little Red Riding Hood

246,000

135,000

Around the World in 80 Days

135,000

27100

The Secret Garden

135000

40500

Doctor Dolittle

90500

18100

20000 Leagues Under the Sea

22200

12100



While I admit that my background in computer science industry often affects some of interests, I suggest that all these statistics give a good indication of popularity of various children's literature and may be quite useful to anyone interested in collecting children’s books.

In addition, as we all know, the new movie releases usually have a tremendous impact on any specific title, as can be seen from the Alice in Wonderland taking first position in the number of searches. Although the Wizard of Oz shares first place with the Lord of the Rings in the US and 3 through 5 positions in the World, its popularity is likely to increase even more with new Oz related movies that are already in the development.



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