Little Golden Books celebrate milestone

July 3, 2008 4:59:27 PM PDT
They are a childhood classic, something we all read growing up. They are Little Golden Books, and a new exhibit opens Friday to celebrate a milestone.The company that started Little Golden Books was based in Bronxville. And because the books were printed in color, which was unusual at the time, the publisher was able to recruit some of the world's best artists. And that's part of the reason Little Golden Books were and continue to be so popular.

With a good story and great pictures, you might be able to hold a child's attention. And Little Golden Books have been doing that for 65 years.

"Golden Books started in 1942, just as America was getting deeply involved in the second world war," Leonard Marcus said. "They were much less expensive than other children's books, so they were a great thing on the homefront for mothers to read to their young children while their fathers were away at war."

Marcus wrote "Golden Legacy" about Little Golden Books. He says the books were an instant hit because they were so affordable, just 25 cents, compared to most children's books that sold for $2 or $3 at the time. And the pictures and characters are so endearing.

"The Golden Books editors had a real knack for hitting on the subject and themes that young kids responded to in a universal way," Marcus said.

And now, 60 of the original images make up an exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. The museum's director believes adults and kids will get a kick out of the exhibit.

"Kids love hearing those stories from the past, love hearing their parents say, 'When I was your age, I was in a supermarket growing up in Brooklyn or the Bronx and it was my first book!'" director Andrew Ackerman said.

It's a walk down memory lane for adults. Remember Tootle the Train? Or Pokey Little Puppy? The artist who created Pokey also worked on the seven dwarfs for Walt Disney.

In all, two billion Little Golden Books have been sold over the years, the metallic spines filling lots of little libraries.

"For parents it was an unbeatable deal, because for 25 cents you could find a few and hope that one of them would work out at bedtime," Marcus said.

Until Little Golden Books, on average less than 20 percent of American households bought books. They usually just checked them out at the library. But Little Golden Books were so affordable, it was indeed an easy thing to buy, and that's believed to have helped literacy rates.

For more information, visit The Children's Museum of Manhattan Web site.


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg