Thursday, May 5, 2011

75 Years of Children’s Book Week Posters: celebrating great illustrators of American children’s books, introduction and text by Leonard S. Marcus, sponsored by the Children’s Book Council

Books, especially for young readers, have always been considered to be a weapon during wars because of the influence they can have on the reader. This was as true for the Allied Powers as much as it was for the Axis Powers during World War II. Despite paper shortages everywhere, a good number of children’s books were still written and published between 1939 and 1945.

Children’s Book Week, sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, has been celebrating books and reading and encouraging youthful readers since 1919. Each year the Council commissions a poster by a well-known illustrator of children’s books for the purpose of commemorating this week.

75 Years of Children’s Book Week Posters contains the first 69 posters for Children’s Book Week. This is a book well worth close examination if you are a reader who really appreciates the work of each illustrator in the books you read. According to the publisher’s description of the book, these posters are not only first rate illustrations, but the also reflect the history, social climate and wider concerns of the country at the time each was created.

This made me think of one of my favorite quotes about children’s books by A.S.W. Rosenbach, who was a famous rare book seller and collector of children’s book. In 1933, in the introduction to his own book Early American Children’s Books, Rosenbach wrote:

“…more than any other class of literature, [children’s books] reflect the minds of the generation that produced them. Hence no better guide to the history and development of any country can be found than its juvenile literature.” (pg xxvii)

I think about this quote each time I read a kidlit book.

Since this is Children’s Book Week at the Children’s Book Council, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the posters that were created for it during World War II.

To see this year's poster by Peter Brown, visit Children's Book Week at Book Week Online

If you are ever in the Philadelphis ares, be sure to visit the kid friendly Rosenbach Museum and Library or visit online at


  1. Great posters, I love the new poster as well.

  2. Being that I'm a graphic designer, and just got a poster assignment this week (for a theater production) seeing these posters is an inspiration. Thanks for the post!

  3. I am glad you liked the posters, though I am afraid they didn't come out as well as I had hoped they would on Blogger, and I happy they were inspirational too.