Childhood · Nostalgia · Throwback Thursday

Nostalgia Between the Pages: Little Golden Books


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.

file_001This 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.

Honestly, who doesn’t love a pig in overalls playing the fiddle?

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.

#tbt #littlegoldenbooks #75years

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.

* * *

75 Years of Little Golden Books: 1942-2017: A Commemorative Set of 12 Best-Loved Books

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 

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38 thoughts on “Nostalgia Between the Pages: Little Golden Books

  1. I totally loved this post. Nostalgic or not, those books are great for kids. I love that you called Roth out because seriously, talk about a lack of childhood joy!

  2. I love that just the spines of these books can evoke so many memories and feelings! They are so sweet and fun to read. I’ve made sure my little one’s book shelf has my favorite ones from my own childhood on it already.

  3. I loved the pokey little puppy! It’s very nostalgic, but just cute characters, too! Not every book needs to have some super deep thought provoking meaning or plot….especially children’s books!

  4. Wow, I’m pretty shocked by his comments! I love the old Little Golden Books and I will absolutely read them to my child. They’re simple stories and you are right, they aren’t Shakespeare. They are children’s books. My dad has his original Poky Little Puppy book still, it’s in remarkably good shape!

  5. Ugh, critics. His comments are terrible. The one that really got me was “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.” Give me a break.

    I loved these books when I was little – it’s so fun to learn they are releasing a collector’s edition.

  6. I would hope that he didn’t and is not, but it would seem Mr. Roth is a very unhappy person. Those books are made for children and The Poke Little Puppy is a great book! Ugh!

  7. I am sitting here looking at my own stack of old Little Golden Books. I loved The Poky Little Puppy and The Monster at the End of This Book. My grandmother saved them from my childhood and gave them to me and I hope to pass them down if I have kids. What treasures!

  8. YES! We just acquired my grandmother’s collection I can remember reading with her when I was little. They are well-loved, and not as bright & shiny as our newer books, but my son still loves that special time of cuddling up to a fun story with momma💛

  9. When my mom and I went to go see Beauty and the Beast together, she brought one of the little little golden books: Beauty and the Beast of course. It was so nostalgic and sweet of her to dig it up for me!

  10. Mr. Roth sounds like one of those unfortunate people who never had a proper childhood. I, on the other hand, still enjoy The Poky Little Puppy! I am looking forward to introducing my granddaughter to them, and I’m thinking that the box set will make a lovely Christmas gift!

  11. Oh my goodness, how I loved my Little Golden Books as a young girl! So much so that I keep buying them for our boys to pass down the fun…and to reminisce a little. 🙂

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