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Collecting Children's Books by Year

The initial 'Golden Age' of Children's literature spanned from around 1865 (the end of the Civil War) to the 1920s (the End of World War I), creating a template for future authors of children's books. Growing out of that genesis, we begin our collecting series in the 1920s, when the mass production of color books became technologically feasible, children's book divisions were created in major publishing houses, and children's books began being recognized with prestigious awards.

In the 1920s demand for children's books was increased by growing literacy rates, public education, as well as children's reading rooms in public libraries - which began as early as 1890 in places like the Boston Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (initially to keep noisy children from the adult reading rooms).

Children's Book Week was launched in 1919, and the same year Louise Seaman Bechtel became the first person to head a juvenile book department in an American Publishing House when she was hired by Macmillan.

Today there are four main categories of children's books - picture books (from birth - age 5), easy readers (age 4-7), middle grade (ages 8-13) and young adult (12 and up). These categories are simplified by the two leading awards for children's books in the United States: the Newbery Award, awarded yearly by the American Library Association beginning in 1922 to the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for children published by an American Publisher in English during the preceding year, and the Caldecott award, created in 1938 by the ALA to award the most distinguished contribution to picture books.

Although condition is always key in book collecting, not only were children's books produced to be consumed by eager little hands, but nostalgia often plays a key role in collecting, so a bit more leniency can be extended by collectors wanting to find a rare and much-loved tome.