Search in 1930s-1940s Children's books from English speaking writers

Wizard of Oz published in 1900

Paddle to the Sea 1941 Newbery Winner

We had no town library!

It occurred to me today that I did not grow up in a home with a library. Nor were there shelve upon shelve of books. In fact, my memory of the library centers around Jane Van Drasek, the mother of my bestus buddy when I was 5 years old. I suppose she was a homely sort of woman. She was large and huggable as an Easter bunny. Her face would light up whenever she saw me standing on the porch. "Why Barb!" she'd say, as if she hadn't seen me in years and I was the best visitor of her life.

Jane took Jeannie to the library every single Thursday all summer long. And Jeannie was allowed the maximum take- ten books a time! If she had read all ten from the previous week, that is. One life-changing day, Jane invited me along. Mom said, "Sure!" And off I went. It was heaven on earth and I hauled my own stash of ten books home that very night. The sweet perfume of those first books remains with me 5 decades later.

"Mom," I called her this morning. "Mom, what was your favorite book when you were in high school? Or when you were little?"

She giggled that uncertain giggle. "First, I meant to tell you those flowers you sent for Mother's Day are fresh as the day they came!"

"Good to know," I said. "I'm glad. So, what books do you remember reading?"

"Um, Orphan Annie?"

"I think that was a comic book."

"Well, I guess maybe Elaine read books. We didn't have a town library. There was just the little library in the school." There was a pause. "Ray says his favorite was Tom Sawyer."

Another pause.

"We only saw one movie before we graduated from high school. I suppose it was Mrs. Miniver. But we did listen to the radio. Mother would only let us listen to music. The shows were too dumb, she said."

"In school we had long declamations to memorize- stories and poems. My brother Paul was very good at it. He recited 'Yellow dog' all over the neighborhood... Yellow dog he was but bless you, he was just the chap for me, for I'd rather have an inch of dog, than ounce of pedigree!"

Sidetracked for good reason

I enjoy children's books so much that I spent all morning gleaning lists of books I have known and loved. It makes me sad to realize my mother didn't grow up with the musty scent of books, their texture and type face, the thrill of opening to the first page. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had developed a pattern of reading that set me up to win the award for Most Books Read. I beat my main competitor 103 to 102- third place read something like 72.

I wonder which of the books I've listed within this Hub were on the library shelves at Manvel Grammar School. I have searched sites for this information but have yet to find a site that lists curriculum or reading lists. I did discover this information at kclibrary. (Thank you very much, Bettye Sutton of Lonestar College, Kingwood.

She wrote, "The 1930s were a perilous time for public education. With cash money in short supply parents were unable to provide their children with the necessary clothes, supplies, and textbooks (which were not furnished in some states) to attend school. Taxes, especially in rural areas, went unpaid. With the loss of revenue, school boards were forced to try numerous strategies to keep their districts operating. School terms were shortened. Teachers' salaries were cut. One new teacher was paid $40 a month for a five month school year - and was very glad for the job!

"When a rural county in Arkansas was forced to charge tuition one year in order to keep the schools open, some children were forced to drop out for that year. One farmer was able to barter wood to fuel the classrooms' potbellied stoves for his four children's tuition, thus enabling them to continue their education. The famous Dick and Jane books that taught millions of children to read were first published in 1931. These primers introduced the students to reading with only one new word per page and a limited vocabulary per book. All who learned to read with these books still recall the 'Look. See Dick. See Dick run.'"

The site didn't write about education in the 1940s, but it did list FACTS about this decade:

* Population 132,122,000 *

Unemployed in 1940 - 8,120,000 *

National Debt $43 Billion *

Average Salary $1,299.

Teacher's salary $1,441 *

Minimum Wage $.43 per hour *

55% of U.S. homes have indoor plumbing *

Antarctica is discovered to be a continent *

Life expectancy 68.2 female, 60.8 male *

Auto deaths 34,500 *

The decade opened with the appearance of the first inexpensive paperback. Book clubs proliferated, and book sales went from one million to over twelve million volumes a year. Many important literary works were conceived during, or based on, this time period, but published later.


© 2009 Barbara

More by this Author


Comments 61 comments

GiftedGrandma profile image

GiftedGrandma 7 years ago from USA

I have always loved books my children do and many of my grandchildren do as well. I used to get the Golden ones when they were little. Each had their own collection until we couldn't afford to do it anymore. Then they looked at catalogues and considered it their wishbook. :O)


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Yes, GG, Golden Books! Yes, what a memory that brings. The puppy one... Pokey Little Puppy! I found it at http://www.randomhouse.com/golden/lgb/


mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

The videos on this hub are great, Storytellersrus. I hear what you've said about texture and type-face of the older books...great stuff. Makes me want to go diggin' around at the library and at garage sales and old bookstores.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Ah gee, you may inspire me, mythbuster! There's a habit I could resonate with, haha. Happens to be a book sale at the Denver Public Library this weekend... thanks for reminding me!!!


Diane 6 years ago

has anyone heard of a book Katrina and the 12 months? My mom said her teacher used to read it to the class around 1928?

please let me know if you know where I can find this book. Thank you , Diane


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Might she be remembering the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" published in 1820 and written by Washington Irving?

This book would have been of the quality to be read to students and has a prominent Katrina, i.e., Ichabod Crane was meant to teach for the entire school year but eventually fell for the blushing, wealthy Katrina...

Read the story here:

http://www.bartleby.com/310/2/2.html


Mary 6 years ago

I am searching for a book and only know part of the title "_____ _____ for Mary M" - a story about a family in Arkansas in the 1930's I believe. Anyone have any thoughts ? Thank you.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Big Doc's Girl by Mary Myrtle Medearis? It is about a girl named Mary in rural Arkansas during the Depression...

The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan is about the Civil War...

Is this a children's book? Or Young Adult? Is it for you or someone else? Why are you looking for it? Thanks.


Mary 6 years ago

It is for my daughter. Her grandmother used to read it to her when she was about 6 or 7. It definitely had Mary M in the title. Thanks for your reply !


Martha 6 years ago

I am looking for a children's book my husband had in the 1940's.

It was about some men and their troubles with their cars.

I think it was called--

Red, White, and Blue Auto

The Little Red White and Blue Auto

I don't know the author.

It is about their cars breaking down, and they use the parts of all three to make one new, workable car which they all ride in together.

The men are Mr. White, Mr. Blue, Red, and Mr. Head.

The owner of the factory where they work I think is Mr. Head. He says his car not working is unsatisfactory for the head of a factory.

Mr. Blue blubbers, "Now, I have gone and burned up all my rubber."

Can anyone tell me where I can find out the true title and the author?

I would love to get copies of the book.


Martha 6 years ago

I found the book, Red, White and Blue Auto.

Author: Lucy Sprague Mitchell

Illustrator: Tibor Gergely

mcmxliii (1943)

Makes my day, yea, month!!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Martha, I am sorry I couldn't help! I've been distracted, working 10 hours a day for the Census. I think it is very cool that you found your book! Persistence pays off.


Jo Lynn Hirsh 5 years ago

I am looking for a poem my mother memorized in elementary school in the 1930's. It started out something like this,"Grandmother has come to our house to stay." Could anyone help me?


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

1. Grandmother poem from the 1930s

Katherine Mansfield's The Candle? The Candle

By my bed, on a little round table,

The Grandmother placed a candle.

She gave me three kisses telling me they were three dreams

And tucked me in just where I loved being tucked.

Then she went out of the room and the door was shut.

I lay still, waiting for my three dreams to talk;

But they were silent...

2. Or James Whitcomb Riley?

Little Orphant Annie

. Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,

An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,

An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,

An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;

An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,

We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun

A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,

An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you

Ef you

Don't

Watch

Out!


steviegre 5 years ago

One of the first books that I really enjoyed was about an inn. The cover of the book showed the sign out front and there was a lantern. I believe that the title included the words "Inn" and Lantern. Does anyone remember a book like this in the 1940's (young adult)


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Mystery of Lilac Inn? A Nancy Drew mystery published in 1930. See original cover here: http://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Lilac-Nancy-Drew-Boo...

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, first published in 1936, does not have a lantern on the front that I can see: http://www.amazon.com/Jamaica-Inn-Daphne-du-Maurie...

Or a stretch but could it be Jane of Lantern Hill published by L.M. Montgomery in 1937? I can't find a cover from the first publication...

Good luck!


Dawn  5 years ago

Hi - I'm looking for a book my mom talks about having when she was little (likely it was from the 1940's b/c she says she was around 2 when it was read to her and she was born in 1949). All she remembers is that it had a milk bottle on the cover (possibly the character was a milk bottle) and that the cover was pink or red. Any ideas??


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author


Jimmi Blue 5 years ago

I'm looking for a book I had when I was young. It was older than me, having been written in the 40s or 50s, I think. It was about a family looking for a bigger home. They would ride around in their car and the kids would point to various structures and ask, "How about that one?" The parents would say, "Oh no, that's much too big for us. That house is made for many families to live in." Finally, they find one that's just right (of course).

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

There is a charming picture book (winner of the Caldecott that year) written about a house in 1942, called The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, but it doesn't fit your description.

Blue Willow by Doris Gates written in 1940 is a lovely middle grade Newbery Honor book about a young migrant girl who, with her parents is attempting to create a home.

I will keep looking!


Jimmi Blue 5 years ago

Thank you very much. I wish I could remember more details, but it was a long time ago...


Bob Hector 5 years ago

Your site is delight. I am looking for the title of a book a little smaller than a "Book House," about a boy who makes a trip across the US on a diamond stack locomotive, rolling through New York, and helping people escape the Pestigo fire. "Old Karl" maintained the engine.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Bob, I am still looking.

But I found this bit of information interesting... "Western Railway Company finally decided to extend their line through Marinette/Menominee to Escanaba, thus making a rail connection with its Peninsula Division. The new line was to be built in two sections -- the first from Fort Howard to Marinette and the second from Marinette to Escanaba. Work on the first section began in the spring of 1871 under Edward Powers, engineer of construction, assisted by F.H. Van Cleve. Grading began in June, and by July 1 the work was well started along the whole length of the line. Contractors Dunlap and Ellis were instructed to "rush" the work throughout the very dry summer and fall. The surrounding area suffered terribly from drought, and on October 8 the Peshtigo fire swept over many acres, taking many lives and destroying much property and timberland. The famed Chicago fire occurred at the same time. Nevertheless, the first section was completed so that the first regular passenger train could run from Fort Howard to Marinette on December 27, 1871."

It makes sense to me that connecting railroad travel to the fire would intrigue a children's book writer considering this information!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Daniel Trentworthy: A Tale of the Great Fire of Chicago comes to mind. Will keep looking.


gracerectory 5 years ago

Thank you. The rescue from the fire is one of the adventures I remember. Like the others who have questions, I am drawing from memories of the early 1950's, and I would love to find the book to renew them. I thought it was called The Great Railroad Adventure, which is too general. One source might be Books in Print for 1949. Cheers, Bob


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author


Bob Hector 5 years ago

Fascinating series. My story i remember was a series of adventures across the country during one trip.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Bob, peruse this list and see if any titles ring a bell! http://home.mindspring.com/~railroadstories/scrapb...

Might it be Whispering Rails? I can't find a description of the story, but the cover looks promising.

http://www.railpub.com/Pages/page92.shtml is another reference list!


Carey 5 years ago

Approximately 1930 - 1940. Book was large and had circus animals on the front - a lion. The book was red. It was all animal stories inside. Possibly a circus animal book or animal stories. One story was about a white rabbit and a kitten who fell into flour called pussy drawers and the white rabbit pulled her out.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

I am not the expert on finding such a book, but I am happy to refer you to a site with great links that might steer you in the right direction! Go to: http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com/looking-for-a-boo...

And good luck!


wandacolman@hotmail.com 4 years ago

I am looking for a book I loved as a child in the 40's. A child goes to a farm with her parents to pick out a puppy. One has pointy ears, one had curly ears and one had rounded ears. I think the rounded ears pup was picked and taken home. I remember a picture of them all sitting in a wagon. What book was this?


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Well, I have spent a couple hours searching to no avail... I did find a site you can peruse at http://www.vintagechildrensbooks.com/index.php?mai...


JBergen920@gmail.com 4 years ago

Looking for a book read to me as a little girl, around 1950. Think it was "Grandma Glittens and her amazing mittens, or Mrs. Glittens and her amazing mittens. About a poor lady who ran out of dye for her mittens she made for children. So she used candy as a dye. The children then could eat the mittens and she could sell more and make more money. Not feasible, but a cute story.


Katie Taylor 4 years ago

Hi i am searching for a book my Dad looved as a boy (my mum remembers it too!) - Its about a man with a cart full of pots and pans and they fall off and roll down a hill. Then animals make homes in the pots??? He thinks that's right anyway! He is 54 now - hope you can help x


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

JBergen920, your book is called The Golden Christmas Book. Find an article about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/marling-chris...


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Katie Taylor, I keep coming up with The Wheel on the School, a classic where children in a small village find nesting places for local storks. The connection is that there is a tinker who helps out, and winds up contributing a wheel. This is a lovely story and I would be thrilled if the distorted memories of our youth (I am of similar age) have twisted things so that this is the book he loved. Let me know and in the meantime, I will keep looking and post if something else comes up.


SBURKA 4 years ago

Iam looking for a recitation book my father had in grade school. he was born in 1932. he said it was poems mostly. things to memorize.

Sure hope someone can help. This would be from Pennsylvania, If that helps.

Thank you.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

SBURKA, Otherwise, there is a link above listing children's books published between 1900 and 1945 you might peruse. Good luck!!!


Carolyn librarian 4 years ago from New York

Great article and comments! Visits to the library are great adventures in children's lives. Will add more comments from time to time.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Carolyn librarian! What an honor to have a true believer read this hub. I have always admired librarians- especially my sister... I look forward to reading your future comments.


SD 4 years ago

I'm looking for a book for my dad which either had a poem or a line in it something like this 'I love the pussy willow ... mum thinks it might be an A A Milne book


SD 4 years ago

Oops ... I forgot to put the second line in. According to my dad, who I really want to find it for because it's a childhood favorite of his in the 1930s, it goes 'I love the pussy willow, it looks so sweet to me'. Mum says that's wrong that it is 'I love the pussy willow, her coat is so warm'. If anyone knows where I could find it I'd love to buy the book for my Dad as a surprise. I've been searching for it for years ...

Thanks a lot.

And it is so good to find a website like this. It puts a smile on my face.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

"The Kitten's Garden of Verses" has a poem, "I sometimes think the Pussy-Willows grey Are Angel kittens who've lost their way."

A Golden Book called "Pussy Willow" has this poem, "I know a little pussy, her coat is silver gray. She lives down in the meadow Not very far away. She'll always be a pussy, she'll never be a cat For she's a pussy willow. Now what do you think of that? Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow. Scat!"

The following poems have no author designated, but if they are the right poem, you might find your book! My thought is that the verses your parents remember are more of a feeling than the actual words- though I could be wrong!

"Tiny little pussy willow Softer than a baby's pillow. Sometimes when I stroke your fur, I can almost hear you purr."

"They call them pussy willows, but there's no cat to see, Except the little furry toes that stick out on the trees. I think that very long ago, when I was just born new, There must have been whole pussy cats where just the feet stick through. And every spring it worries me, I cannot ever find Those willow cats that ran away And left their toes behind."


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

The second undesignated poem below is actually one written by Margret Widdemer http://www.emule.com/2poetry/phorum/read.php?7,154... The book is called Happy Children Stories and Poems for Everyday, found here http://www.amazon.com/Happy-Children-Stories-Every...


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

The Golden Book was published too late for your father! Sorry. It was written by Margaret Wise Brown who wrote "Goodnight Moon."


SD 4 years ago

Thank you very much for the pussy willow poem info.

I'll pass it on to my mum and dad and see if it rings any bells for them.

Like you say, it might be the feeling the poem evoked that they remember.

Thanks again.


margaret44 4 years ago

Look ing for a book (circa 1947) that has a story in it called "Chatty Chick." There were several animal characters (I think one was a door mouse)


Ruth Merrill 4 years ago

I am looking for "PING" (unknown author)

Can anyone help?


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

The Story About Ping is found at amazon. I know it well! http://www.amazon.com/Story-About-Ping-Marjorie-Fl...


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

A vintage story from 1947 containing Chatty Chick is more difficult to find than Ping. Try perusing these covers and see if you find it... http://www.etsy.com/search/vintage/book?includes%5... Meanwhile, I will keep looking.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Might it be Chitty Chatty stories? Look at the description here: http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/chitty-c...

There is a photo of the book cover here: http://digitool.fcla.edu/R/XYRI94P2L53A7MNCN3HBLIP...


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

The Little Chick That Would Not Go To Bed by Diehl? "Peep peep said the little children, "I'm going to stay up all night!"

I have searched this list to no avail. Perhaps you will find your book here, Margaret44! http://www.oldchildrensbooks.com/catalogues-lists/...


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 4 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Margaret, here is another site with book covers you might peruse... sometimes all the stories contained within the book are not listed. Perhaps you will recognize its cover?!!! http://www.tagnwag.com/forsale/reference-childrens...


grardner 3 years ago

cool books butIt's not what i'm looking for


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 3 years ago from Stepping past clutter Author

Sorry I couldn't help!


Scotlady 3 years ago

Children have adventure at Ardlui, Loch Lomond, involving an ancient Quaich and a villain called Mr 'Pea' Green


beverley 2 years ago

looking for a book that my uncle had as a child in the 1940's it had a poem in about ferdinand fish...

Ferdinand fish had a strange sort of wish

for to go up above and explore

gave a skip and a hop and came down with a flop from a crest of a wave to the shore..

It has many verses one is

A poster nearby caught ferdinands eye, come to clacton on sea and be healthy.

If anyone out there knows the poem or the story book, could you please let me know.. he is visiting the uk this year, as he now lives in the usa... i would be very grateful.. thankyou in advance


XRumerTest 17 months ago

Hello. And Bye.


indigored profile image

indigored 17 months ago from The Emerald City

Beverley, I apologize. I did not receive this request until today. Do you still want the poem Ferdinand the Fish?

XRumer Test, thanks for the heads up!!!


indigored profile image

indigored 17 months ago from The Emerald City

Scots lady, might it be a Susan novel by Jane Shaw in which Peregrine is called Pea Green?

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