It began with The Poky Little Puppy, Three Little Kittens, The Little Red Hen, and 9 other books in 1942.
Little Golden Books began as a collaboration between legendary publishing company Simon & Schuster and Western Printing based in Racine, Wisconsin. These little full-color books for young readers were published with one idea in mind: make high-quality illustrated children’s books affordable and thus, more accessible.
The concept worked; at the 50-year anniversary of Little Golden Books—25 years ago—the publisher reported that more than a billion and half Little Golden Books had been sold. A publishing achievement of astronomical proportions.
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of Little Golden Books, now published by Penguin Random House, and here at The Nostalgia Diaries we’ve pulled out our well-worn copies to relish in the nostalgia they stir up. From their thin hardback profile to the vibrant cover colors to the golden foil spines to the character montage on the back, Little Golden Books transport us to our earliest days of learning to read. And that nostalgia has been passed down, generation to generation. Children, parents, grandparents all can share in the fond memories these wonderful books create.
One would think the love for Little Golden Books would be universal. It’s not. One writer, Gabriel Roth at Slate, penned an article in the last couple of years about Little Golden Books and specifically The Poky Little Puppy. He suggests that nostalgia is actually the sole driving force behind the sale of children’s books like The Poky Little Puppy. His premise? It’s this:
- Children have no standards when it comes to reading;
- Books like The Poky Little Puppy are awful—in Roth’s words, they are a “scourge” and “terrible”;
- The only reason millions of people buy books like this is that they remember these cheap books from their own childhood.
With all due respect, Mr. Roth, it’s not bloody Shakespeare. Nor is it intended to be. The concept is to place books in the hands of little readers, not for feeding the literary passions of adults. Children find comfort in simplicity, repetition, and cute, colorful illustrations of animals. Little Golden Books delivers.
So if this is what having “no standards” gets you, then sign me up.
Perhaps part of the problem for Mr. Roth is that he seems to have lost the ability to view the world unencumbered by a critical, cynical eye. Indeed, as he describes reading The Poky Little Puppy to his own daughter, he makes this candid, depressing, remark: “And once again I begin to feel my finite remaining hours on this earth slipping inexorably away while my daughter sits next to me, mesmerized.”
Yes, Mr. Roth, parenting is sometimes about pouring your time into your children, helping them learn and live in a happy, safe, positive, loving environment. Actually, no. It’s mostly about that. Nope. I take that back.
It’s all about that.
So we will gladly spend our hours and days and weeks and years reading Little Golden Books to our mesmerized children. And this year, as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Little Golden Books, we will read The Poky Little Puppy over and over and over.
And we will cherish every second of it.
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Releasing on July 11, this boxed set of twelve iconic Little Golden Books commemorates their 75th anniversary. This nostalgic set includes The Poky Little Puppy, I Can Fly, The Sailor Dog, Scuffy the Tugboat, Wonders of Nature, The Three Bears, A Day at the Seashore, The Blue Book of Fairy Tales, I’m a Truck, I Am a Bunny, The Whispering Rabbit, and Katie the Kitten, a newly reissued 1949 title available only in this box. A poster is also included inside, which highlights the history of Golden Books. This perfect gift could surely become an heirloom. Available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.
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