Wanting me to have opportunities they never had, my parents began reading to me before I turned one. By the time I turned three, I was reading mostly by myself. And, among the vast number of books they bought were the classic “Little Golden Books” – those child-centered texts with sturdy pages and gold-colored binding. They first appeared in October 1942; the brainchild of New York publishing firm Simon & Schuster, the Artists and Writers Guild and the Western Printing and Lithographic Company of Racine, Wisconsin. They were geared towards children ages 3 to 8 and revolutionized literature for the average American. Before then, children generally could find books only in schools and libraries. But, the “Little Golden Books” series changed that. Their brightly-colored pages and bold text captured and held a child’s attention and their 25-cent price made them affordable.
Now, the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., is paying homage to the series with an exhibit through January 2014. It features a sampling of artists’ proofs from several of the first books in the series, such as “Two Little Miners,” “The Poky Little Puppy” and “The Little Red Caboose.” At a time when education funding in the U.S. is being compromised due to partisan politics, it’s imperative to realize how crucial literacy is to a child’s welfare.
Oh, and I still have all the “Little Golden Books” my parents bought for me. Some things are just too valuable to throw away!