Since our local public library closed due to the coronavirus, we’ve been reading the same library children’s books over and over again. I basically have them all memorized at this point. So, thank goodness, authors and actors have been sharing their favorite reads online.
Thank goodness too that we can access — for free — 6,000 historical books through the digitized collection from the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.
Even so, the texts and illustrations are quite different then what our kids may be used to, so you may need to prepare them for that.
While the books are still entertaining, or at least amusing, the historical kid books also offer a peek into what life was like during a particular period of time. In other words, the books serve as interesting history lessons, perfect for at-home learning.

Related: Easy Historical Crown Craft for Kids

Source: Baldwin Library

The History of Children’s Books

Kid lit is a relatively new genre, considering it only really picked up steam starting in the early 18th century. Early books also were typically either entertaining or instructional, or some balance between the two. Others were just pure nonsense. A lot depended on what the parents wanted their kids to learn or the culture of the time.
Source: Baldwin Library

Victorian Era Books

If you’re looking for the most variety in storytelling, start with the Victorian era. From this time period, readers will get everything from simple spelling books to thrilling adventure stories. Children’s books featuring religious instruction were also highly popular. Parents can also access princess stories that long predate the Disney version, such as Little Cinderella.

Introduce Your Kids to Early Poetry

Poetry books were also highly popular in the early 18th century. They were so popular in fact that the quality can really vary here, so you may want to read the poetry first before sharing it with your kids.
Source: Baldwin Library

The Evolution of Children’s Books

As time went on, kid lit books continued to evolve to meet the interest of young and older readers alike. Fantasy, for one, grew in popularity and led to books like L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series.
You can access 6,000 of these historical children’s books through the Baldwin Library’s digitized collection. Sort based on author, genre, publisher, and more.
I know I, for one, am going to get started with the early fairy tales.

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