Library of Congress Has Digitized 100 Rare and Classic Children’s Books

iStock.com/ra2studio
iStock.com/ra2studio

One hundred rare and vintage children’s books can now be read online for free via the Library of Congress’s website, according to The New York Times. The titles, all of which were published at least a century ago, were digitized in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first national Children’s Book Week.

“Some of these books are hundreds of years old and no child will ever see them except through a glass case, so it is a way to get these books into the hands of children,” Jacqueline Coleburn, the library’s rare book cataloger, told the newspaper.

There are plenty of recognizable titles, including early versions of Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose in Prose, Grimm’s Animal Stories, Red Riding Hood, The Secret Garden, Stories from Hans Andersen, The Story of the Three Little Pigs, and more. All of the books can be viewed as downloadable PDFs or in a text-only format.

The oldest one in the digital collection is A Little Pretty Pocket Book, which was imported from Britain and printed in the U.S. in 1787. According to the British Library, the book is “generally considered to be the first book specifically directed at children.” Of course, it was a product of its time, and the gender roles represented therein will likely seem outdated by today’s standards. The book came with a free ball for boys and a pin cushion for girls to demonstrate that these objects would help make the characters—Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly—a “good boy” and a “good girl.”

Other books in the collection are exceedingly rare. One book from 1824, titled The Juvenile National Calendar, or, A Familiar Description of the U.S. Government, is one of just three copies in the world. In poem format, the book describes the different roles of state leaders. Of the president, the book states:

"He, Ambassadors sends to the Nations afar;
He is chief of the soldiers who fight in the war;
He may pardon the convict, of hanging in fear;
And he gets Twenty five thousand dollars a year."

[h/t The New York Times]

Rediscover Moby-Dick With This Beautifully Illustrated Limited-Edition Book

Waterbell/Ben Howe
Waterbell/Ben Howe

Book printer Waterbell is giving readers and art lovers alike a new reason to revisit Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick with these beautifully illustrated editions of the classic tale. Waterbell collaborated with artist Ben Howe to create these unique editions, which bring moody, fully painted artwork that's meant to capture the atmosphere of Melville's writing.

The different editions are available on Kickstarter, and there are a few ways to back this project. To start, $27 will get you the hardcover Collectable Edition, which features six full-page illustrations and illustrated endpapers. It’s all bound together in a jacket featuring a design by Howe.

For $166, you’ll receive the hardcover Limited Edition copy. Along with the same artwork found in the Collectable Edition, these books are hand-sewn, signed by the bookbinder, and numbered. For $3305, you’ll receive the original Burial at Sea painting featured in the book.

This isn’t Waterbell’s first time collaborating with artists to give the classics a fresh look. Other tales include Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, and more. According to their website, only 1440 copies of their editions are created. The made-to-order books are meticulously crafted using a hammer to curve the spine, a needle and thread to bind the pages, and many other techniques.

Image from 'Moby-Dick' from Waterbell.
Waterbell/Ben Howe

Howe took an equally meticulous approach to create the artwork for Moby-Dick. He started by sculpting the subjects of his paintings out of clay, only to destroy the sculptures once the painting was complete.

With $1246 raised, the campaign still has a bit to go before reaching its $2645 goal, but you can help bring the project to life until March 18 by heading here.

Book cover of 'Moby-Dick.'
Waterbell/Ben Howe

If you can't quit the white whale, check out this special pop-up edition published around the time of Melville’s 200th birthday last year.

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Give Your Morning Coffee a Literary Flair With Mugs Decorated With Quotes From Edgar Allan Poe, the Brontë sisters, and More

In addition to individual author mugs, there are also mugs decorated with famous first and last lines from classic books.
In addition to individual author mugs, there are also mugs decorated with famous first and last lines from classic books.
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

Give your coffee (or tea) a little literary flavor with one of these mugs designed by the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. For between $16 and $24, you can purchase a mug that features quotes from Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, Kurt Vonnegut, or the Brontë sisters, along with designs inspired by the mood of their works. Dahl's mug, for example, is fittingly whimsical, with illustrations by his longtime visual collaborator Quentin Blake; meanwhile, Poe's dreary, macabre design perfectly sums up that first cup of coffee at the beginning of the work week.

All Unemployed Philosophers Guild mugs are microwavable, and most are dishwasher-safe. Plus, a portion of all proceeds goes to supporting a variety of charitable organizations. If you’re looking for even more bookish drinkware, you can try out a mug featuring famous first or last lines from literature.

Greatest first lines in literature coffee mug.
This mug features the first lines of novels like Catch-22, Gravity's Rainbow, and more.
Unemployed Philosophers Guild/Amazon

If books aren't your thing, don’t worry—the Unemployed Philosophers Guild also sells mugs decorated with mathematical formulas, presidential slogans, and instructions for tying knots.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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