Early Beginnings.

{Denslow & Caledecott}

Inspiration comes (for me) from a lot of places. A book, a goodnight hug, my childhood memories, a fabric color combination, my children's interactions. I can't really say that there is any one specific source of inspiration since it is all tied up into who I am and what I experience. But I will say, vintage children's books are at the top of my list. I was notified about this site from children's illustrator Carin Berger, and I couldn't be more delighted! White Ravens, a collection of children's books from around the globe, is a library of children's books online from around the globe spanning back to Caldecott himself. Do you remember when I posted about this other site? The Rosetta Project is another site that is dedicated to saving the old and treasured children's books. A very noble venture indeed!

What I love about studying these books, is to find the relationship between the books that we read now and these very first children's books. They are like the parents of what we read to our children. I just get goosebumps when I think of storytelling to children in its very earliest beginnings. In fact, I am so fascinated by it, I own the oldest children's book I know of. It is so old, it's not even a children's picture book (they weren't even invented yet, I guess you could say). I wish I could take a picture, but it is currently safe in a box from our last move. It is a church song book for children written in 1741. It is in very poor condition, but the handwriting of little Margaret, the owner I am sure, is plain to see on the front page. Sometimes I feel sad for little Margaret who only had a songbook of rules to memorize (all about behaving well) and didn't have the luxury of reading THE VERY HUNGRY CATAPILLAR or AMEILIA BEDILIA. Did she ever get bored of what was, and wish she had books about what could be? I wonder how her era of literature would have been altered if she could have gotten a hold of HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON. But it was of course, only the beginning. And I like to imagine what it must have been like for those first children readers to witness children's picture books in the making. A lot had to happen in publishing and creativity since my little Margaret 1741 friend, and I am glad to be on the other side of it. But we all know, to create the future, we must learn from the past! So, hats off to the inspiring past! And to you, my Margaret friend, thank you for participating in the earliest of children's literature. It had to start somewhere!