Children’s literature is one of our collection strengths and we have thousands of books and magazines produced for children. About two-thirds of the collection is searchable via the catalogue. The remaining items are searchable in: Catalogue of the collection of children’s books 1617-1939 in the Library of the University of Reading, compiled by Edith M. Cairns. The Library, University of Reading, 1988 (available at Special Collections).
The collection is particularly strong in its coverage of the 1800-1900s, with nearly 1000 pre-1851 titles. There are good collections of Mrs Hofland and Mrs Sherwood, G.A. Henty, unbroken runs of Aunt Judy’s magazine and the Monthly packet.
The origin of the collection is a gift of Victorian children’s books from Sir Frank and Lady Stenton, in the 1950s. In the 1960s the University Library established it as a separate collection and added other miscellaneous children’s books from its collections. Donations continued to play a significant role in the growth of the collection, as they do today, such as a bequest from the author Elinor Brent Dyer.
- Treasures of Special Collections online exhibition and a selection of our children’s book covers on Google Arts and Culture.
- Read Featured Item articles on items from this collection: Christmas pictures by children (1929), Walter Crane’s toy books, James Gibbs’s illustrations of popular literature, and Kathleen Hale’s Orlando (1972).