Ten Things You Didn't Know: Little Golden Books

A lot has changed since Little Golden Books became a staple of childhood 75 years ago this year (2017), but they remain some of the most popular children’s books ever published, as demonstrated in a recent Ten Things You Didn’t Know column.
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2017 is the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books. These icons of literature were the companions of many generations of children, and their popularity continues to be without equal. Fans include young and the young-at-heart, as well as collectors. Below are some interesting facts about Little Golden Books.

Little Golden Books Begin with a Dozen

1 The Little Golden Books line first premiered with 12 titles, all released at the same time — September 1942 — priced at 25 cents each. Today the average retail price of a Little Golden Book is $3.99. (View the Little Golden Books First 12 below)

2The Little Golden Book “Donald Duck’s Adventure," signed by Walt Disney, with the words “BEST WISHES,” realized $900 at auction. The 1950s title sold during a 2011 auction presented by Universal Live. The book had some age spotting on the cover, corner and some wearing along the spine. However, the presence of a Walt Disney signature tipped the scales. It’s not commonplace to find a children’s book with Disney’s signature on it.


3 The first 12 books to be released were: “Three Little Kittens,” “Bedtime Stories,” “The Alphabet A-Z,” “Mother Goose,” “Prayers for Children,” “The Little Red Hen,” “Nursery Songs,” “The Poky Little Puppy,” “The Golden Book of Fairy Tales,” “Baby’s Book,” “The Animals of Farmer Jones” and “This Little Piggy.”

Early Success and Long-Term Popularity

4 Five months after the initial release 1.5 million copies of the books had been printed. Forty-four years after the First 12 were published, the one billionth Little Golden Book, which incidentally was “The Poky Little Puppy,” was printed in the U.S.

5 A first edition of Little Golden Book “Smokey Bear and the Campers,” circa 1961, sold for $45 during a 2010 auction presented by Phoebus Auction Gallery.

6 A few notable authors and illustrators were responsible for bringing forth some classic Little Golden Books. Among those were Margaret Wise Brown, who also authored the timeless “Goodnight Moon”; Mercer Mayer, author of the “Little Monster” series; Richard Scarry, best known for his “Busytown” series of books; and iconic artist Garth Williams, whose illustrations brought to life the characters in “Stuart Little,” “Charlotte’s Web” and the “Little House” series penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One Puppy Leads the Pack

7Of all the hundreds of Little Golden Book titles published, one of the First 12 lays claim (so far) to the most copies sold. The top-selling Little Golden Book is “The Poky Little Puppy.” At last count, more than 15 million copies have been sold. The book also lays claim to being banned in the Soviet Union for some time because of its capitalistic storyline.


8 The original Little Golden Books sparked a flurry of development in the 1950s, including an activity series of books (complete with learning wheels, paper dolls and paints as some of the enhancements), development of Big Little Golden Books and boxed puzzles featuring the cover of Little Golden Books.

LGB Legacy Includes Premium Status

9 Not unlike some popular toys, and even Depression glass, Little Golden Books were premiums included in products such as diapers and in children’s meals at fast-food restaurants.

10 In 2013, Golden Books released “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book.” Written by Diane Muldrow, a prolific author of Little Golden Books, the book draws on more than 70 years of Little Golden Book wisdom to provide practical tips for adults.

Compiled by Antoinette Rahn. Sources: LiveAuctioneers, “Warman’s Little Golden Books Identification and Price Guide,”www.little-golden-books.com, www.thesantis.com, www.randomhousekids.com. Photos courtesy of “Warman’s Little Golden Books Identification and Price Guide” by Steve Santi.

The covers of the First 12 Little Golden Books published — all released on the same day in September of 1942 — are featured below: