Little Golden Books of Memories

Monday, 15 September 2014

While going through my picture book collection this past week, I've come across many a treasure--both 'long lost' recent purchases and long lost vintage books that brought the memories flooding back ... both from my children's early years and also from my own childhood.

And which books have been the most reminiscent? Little Golden Books.

Little Golden Books have been around a very long time. The first twelve books were published in 1942, with the following titles. How many of them do you remember?

Three Little Kittens*
Bedtime Stories
Mother Goose
Prayers for Children*
The Little Red Hen*
Nursery Songs
The Alphabet from A to Z
The Poky Little Puppy*
The Golden Book of Fairy Tales
Baby's Book of Objects
The Animals of Farmer Jones
This Little Piggy and Other Counting Rhymes

*copies I have in my collection (not from 1942!). Back then, each book cost 25 cents, but even now, the retail price is enormously affordable, at $3 or $4.

I'm still, after all these decades, entranced by the illustrations of the earlier Golden Books. Some of my favourite illustrators include the inimitable Eloise Wilkins, as well as Tibor Gergely, Mary Blair, Garth Williams, Joe Kaufman and Gustaf Tenggren (he illustrated The Saggy Baggy Elephant, among others).

It was so interesting to flick through and revisit these titles and notice the ones I loved as a child. By contrast, the titles my kids loved were SO very different.

I still remember my mum buying a Golden Book (or sometimes two) whenever we took the bus into town, and I would devour them. My all-time favourite was the Saggy Baggy Elephant. Goodness knows why. I just adored it. My Little Golden Word Book is one of the earliest books I can remember reading, and I can still see the pictures in my mind. The book hasn't been re-released for some time, so I have a very old vintage copy. How I'd love to see it reproduced.

Some of my other all-time favourites are below ... all dog-earned and endlessly read. I can still recall poring over the illustrations and the intricate details of each, most especially that piece of chocolate cake baby bear snaffles at bedtime in Good Night, Little Bear. Boy, was I jealous.

My kids, on the other hand, adored a whole other set of Golden Books. They loved a variety but their ultimate faves were the Sesame Street versions, which were first published in the early 1970s and were still popular into the 1990s.

The interesting thing is that the Golden Books my kids absolutely adored were filled with much more humour than the ones I loved, which were all high on adventure and overcoming adversity. Some of their favourites included:

Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad
Elmo's Tricky Tongue Twisters
Shall We Dance? A Book of Opposites 
Sing with Me, My Name is Ernie
Elmo Loves You
and the absolutely priceless The Monster at the End of this Book

Golden Books are regularly re-released, and some of the most recent releases include the following retro treats, so look out for them on your shopping trips.

I hope you enjoy revisiting or discovering some of these Little Golden Books. Which ones were your particular favourites? And which ones do your children now enjoy?

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