Vintage children's book bonanza: the Children's Digital Library


The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907)
Children's Digital Library

The Children's Digital Library doesn't have a sleek interface and it can be a bit hiccupy, but if you poke around you'll find a surprising number of vintage children's books like The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907) or The Illustrated Alphabet of Birds (1851).

Best of all, several of the Oz books illustrated by John R. Neill are here in their entirety! I remember checking these out of the library when I was sick as a child. I think my mom must have charmed the librarian because I remember taking literally stacks of books at a time. The Oz books captivated me with their art nouveau design.


John R. Neill
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)


John R Neill
Ozma of Oz (1907)

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), Ozma of Oz (1907), The Lost Princess of Oz (1917) and Glinda of Oz (1920) are charming flights of fanciful fluff, and it's a joy to read them again. There are even a few on here I don't remember, although they may come back to me when I start reading.


John R Neill
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)


John R Neill
Glinda of Oz (1920)

The mission of the Children's Digital Library is to give children of immigrants all over the world access to children's books in their native tongue. But it's not really surprising that English books constitute the majority of the collection, or that older (and thus out-of-copyright) books predominate. It may be unintentional, but it makes the Children's Digital Library a bonanza for those of us who miss old cloth-bound children's books like the Oz series.


The Cheerful Cricket and Others

If you feel a little guilty for using this site to indulge your adult nostalgia (which admittedly I'm beginning to) then you can contribute to their efforts here. Read more about their efforts to incorporate kid-friendly features and digitize collections which are no longer in general circulation here.


The Illustrated Alphabet of Birds (1851; illustrator unknown)

Found via an old post at The Chawed Rosin

More like this

Reposted and slightly modified from Classic DigitalBio. Some people say that science takes the magic out of everyday life. Not me! I've learned some things by reading Science (1) that might give some people nightmares, especially young children. Remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the…
In this case, it's unintentional, though. His mangled version of Darwin's Origin is currently the #1 result of searches for the Origin on Amazon. It's not there honestly, though: it's because Amazon's indexing system has a deep flaw. It doesn't seem to actually track which edition is the most…
My understanding of what makes a good children's book changed dramatically about 15 months ago, when my baby daughter Clara Lynn was born. Before that time, I thought a good children's library would be a mix of Dr. Seuss, Dick and Jane, Sesame Street, and Winnie the Pooh. These were the stories I…
This series of sciart wallpapers by Dan Funderburgh were inspired by the Time-Life Science Library, a series of educational books published in the 1960s. For those of us old enough to remember them, Time-Life's series are objects of nostalgia in themselves. Coupling the vintage design and palettes…

Oh! Oh, oh, OH! This is absolutely faboo! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oz books--online! Off to send my mom an email...

Those 4 were my favorites!!

The Lost Princess of OZ, especially. Hidden in a golden peach pit - bizarre and fantastic!

John R. Neill's illustrations had a serious influence on my drawing style.

Thank you so much for this link! What a wonderful project. Sadly, web based projects such as this may soon be the only way that these beautiful old books are available, thanks to the ridiculous legislation involved in CPSIA. Books printed before 1985 may be purged from libraries and second hand stores as our government strives to protect us from harmful levels of lead in old printing inks. (rolling my eyes here!) Concerned parties should check out Wellspring's blog at She's writing a lot about CPSIA lately.