In addition, amid the wealth of school stories for girls (a genre which reached its zenith at this period) by authors such as Angela Brazil, Elsie Oxenham and Dorita Fairlie Bruce, by 1940 the Chalet-School stories by Elinor Brent-Dyer reflected the threat of Nazism. At the other end, we guessed that the best modern books were published by 1976. This list may not reflect recent changes . Though often criticised as sentimental, the lasting fame of The Railway Children (1906) can largely be attributed to the nostalgia-fuelled success of the 1970 film, but the book also demonstrates Nesbit’s attempt to reflect her socialist political beliefs – she was one of the founding members of the Fabian Society in 1884 – in her depictions of working-class life. Also, most of those appointed to such editorial roles were women. All of the non-fiction we examined seemed too ephemeral in content; the best of these books, like Steichen's FIRST PICTURE BOOK are impossibly dated. However, publishing of children’s fiction picked up in the 1920s and burgeoned in the 1930s until interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.. An early notable example, J M Barrie’s creation Peter Pan, first appears in The Little White Bird (1902), a work intended for adults, then in a play (1904), then a book (1906) and subsequently a novel based on the play, published as Peter and Wendy (1911). In fact, modern books now seem to us much better written than books of 40-75 years ago. This category has the following 23 subcategories, out of 23 total. In celebration of the end of our century we thought it would be fun to publish a catalog of the most important modern books, read "those we had as children", yet, ones which children still read and enjoy. Though it's a disputed point, the Book of Mormon was written sometime between 2,000 B.C. This rich period was followed by the dislocation of the First World War (1914–18) and its immediate aftermath when relatively few children’s books were published. This seemed plenty when we began with a … The older ones need to be very much better to hold their own against today's literature. Great claims have been made for the importance of the author Edith Nesbit, and though she clearly built on the work of her predecessors, she can still be viewed as a pivotal figure at the turn of the 19th/20th century. As is clear from their recollections in Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books, women editors of children’s books suffered from a double lack of status, making it even harder for them to increase the standing of children’s literature. These are most often from The Horn Book, deferring to its long history of supporting and promoting literature for children. Consider L'Engle's RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT (1980), which is much better written than A WRINKLE IN TIME (1962). While Milne’s protagonists remain recognisably toy animals, Beatrix Potter’s small and satisfyingly shaped books, which begin with Peter Rabbit (privately printed in 1901, then published by Warne in 1902), are clearly about real animals – the illustrations reflecting her interest in anatomy and close observation of wildlife. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more). Moreover, while the focus of this article has been on works published in the United Kingdom by British authors, translations of works by non-British authors were also available – a prime example being Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner (published in Berlin in 1929 and in London in 1931). Much criticism has been levelled at Blyton, especially with regard to sexism and racism, and Nicholas Tucker has suggested that she was responsible for ensuring that the adventure story was no longer considered a suitable genre for adults. These would be quite different lists, and we invite the reader to consider, which individuals would appear on all three lists. But drawing up a short list of the best kids' books from the past 100 years isn't easy. Usually, booksellers' catalogs are limited to the books they happen to have in stock; happily, we ignored what we had. Dr. Seuss presented the toughest challenge in this respect. Potter deftly brought to the page closely-observed details of animals’ lives. Nevertheless, a popular, nostalgic affection for her works ensures that they remain in print. Library authorities began to appoint children’s librarians, perhaps most notably Hendon Library’s appointment of Eileen Colwell in 1926. This unsettling and unstable story, Barrie’s only work for children, seems to reflect an ambivalent attitude to childhood, adulthood and women. Clearly there is as wide a range of critical approaches to children’s literature as to any other literary form. We had a few other arbitrary criteria as well. However, no survey of 1930s authors seems complete without a reference to Geoffrey Trease and his attempt to introduce left-of-centre politics into children’s literature, beginning with Bows against the Barons (1934), and perhaps more successfully achieved, with a much lighter touch, in Cue for Treason (1940). These books foreshadow the more enduring success of her later series about the Famous Five, and the girls of St Clare’s and Malory Towers. His two books of verse When We Were Very Young (1924) and Now We Are Six (1927), and two collections about Pooh, Piglet and friends, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928), eclipsed his reputation as a playwright and Punch contributor. In general, children’s books of the 1930s have been criticised as having ignored the economic, social and political situation of the time – though Noel Streatfeild’s books are saturated with anxiety about financial security. We were partly wrong, of course. Pages in category "20th-century British children's literature" The following 30 pages are in this category, out of 30 total. reply | flag * message 30: by Alex (last edited Jul 29, 2008 11:55AM) (new) Jul 29, 2008 11:14AM. The 20th century opens at the tail end of the so-called first golden age of children’s books in the UK (generally held to date from the 1860s until 1914). The book was greeted with enthusiasm and was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1938, hailed as a work which reflected the reality of working-class experience; however, more often nowadays it is criticised for its patronising tone. A fuller impression of the number of titles published could be gleaned from the catalogues of legal deposit libraries such as the British Library, bibliographies such as those in the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, advertisements in newspapers and (for the later period) book lists produced by organisations such as the National Book League. This rich period was followed by the dislocation of the First World War (1914–18) and its immediate aftermath when relatively few children’s books were published. The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License. We were wrong, of course. And almost all are extremely rare, being known by fewer than a handful of copies. In celebration of the end of our century we thought it would be fun to publish a catalog of the most important modern books, read "those we had as children", yet, ones which children still read and enjoy. I am showing my age a bit because I keep wanting to refer to the 20th century as “this century”. This perhaps influenced the initial acclaim for Eve Garnett’s The Family from One End Street (1937), a book motivated by Garnett’s concern about working-class slum conditions. However, many of those involved in these initiatives came from similar backgrounds and made similar selections of material, which largely reflected middle-class tastes and experience. Felicity Hughes suggests that whereas for much of the 19th century novels were published for family reading, by the turn of the century there was a split between fiction aimed at children and fiction aimed at adults, and the status of the former was lower. Notable titles from the period include Adventures of the Wishing Chair (1937), The Secret Island (1938), The Enchanted Wood (1939) and The Naughtiest Girl in the School (1940). Many of the works from the first years of the period reflect the colonial experience and an unthinking belief in British superiority within the framework of the Empire. Many authors who are less well known today, such as M E Atkinson, had a wide and loyal audience when first published. Any top-level overview of necessity focusses on big names or ‘significant’ works, to some extent predetermined by their inclusion in earlier histories of children’s books, or their reprinting throughout the 20th century. -- Ezra Pound. Put it down to the FAHRENHEIT 451 syndrome; a feeling that one or a handful of books could suffice for the proverbial desert island. Ultimately, this catalog is about literature, a selection of the best writing for children, which generated some fierce internal debate over several wordless picture-books that ultimately didn't make the list. With the century coming to an end soon, there are all sorts of "best" lists out there: top 10 this, top 20 that.  The influential work about Peter Pan by Jacqueline Rose (The Case of Peter Pan, or, The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction (London: Macmillan, 1984)) has rightly made us cautious in our use of the term 'children’s fiction'. The Hobbit – the culmination of between-the-wars fantasy for children and originally written for Tolkien’s own sons and daughter – was revised after the Second World War to tally better with The Lord of the Rings sequence. Publishers began to engage editors specifically for children’s books, for example Grace Hogarth at Oxford University Press in 1936 and Eleanor Graham (who had previously run the children’s section in the London bookshop Bumpus Books) at Puffin in 1940. Some books are flexible, others, relatively fragile in terms of the age at which one encounters them. I am responsible for the British Library’s collections of material printed in the UK and Ireland from 1901-2000. Some we remember with particular fondness from our childhood, but others which we missed as children we found difficult to appreciate with the wholehearted enthusiasm of yesterday, Masefield's MIDNIGHT FOLK and even WRINKLE IN TIME come to mind. As Ezra Pound so aptly put it: "Literature is news that STAYS news." You will find collectible copies of only half the books in this catalog, despite our diligence. Ratios of Males to Females in Titles and Central Roles, 1900-2000: Full Set of Books (1900-2000), Children’s Catalog (1900-2000), Little Golden Books (1942-1993), and Caldecotts (1938-2000) This gave us a reason for excluding a solid chunk of children's literature which we arbitrarily consider less than modern, even if THE STORY OF LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, and PELLE'S NEW SUIT are today enjoyed as much as ever. A more complex issue is how certain books fit with the reader's emotional age. Moreover, colonial references can be found even at the end of the period – for example in the works of Arthur Ransome. Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908) has also been seen as a reflection of the author’s anxiety about increased mechanisation, the changing social order and the role of women. It’s still hard to get used to. Why 100 books? Hundreds of books were nominated for our list, by editors, publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, and teachers, even children themselves.