April 15, 2014

Classic Children’s Books: Before Dr. Seuss

Many of us have books we loved when we were young. Maybe for you it was a picture book like Corduroy or a series like The Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. I would guess most of us read Dr. Seuss’ rhymes and enjoyed his whimsical illustrations.

Click on the link to read The Rocket by Peter Newell at read.gov.

Click on the link to read The Rocket by Peter Newell at read.gov.

Well, before there was Dr. Seuss, there was another children’s book author and illustrator who was equally loved: Peter Newell. I came across him on the Library of Congress website and I thought he was very cool. One of his books, The Rocket, published in 1912, tells what happens when a janitor’s son lights a rocket in the basement of a 20-story apartment building and it shoots up through every floor!

When I see this book, I think of every kid who lived in an urban apartment complex–like tenement housing–in the early 1900s and how they would have loved this book. It finds something magical about apartment living, which wasn’t always so pleasant in the days before air-conditioning, reliable elevators, sound insulation and building codes.

What books did you love as a kid? Have you shared them with the kids in your life today? Have you ever tried to learn something about the writer or illustrator? Have you asked the older folks in your family what books they loved and added those titles to your family archive? Give it a try–your family bookshelf can be a literary legacy for all ages to enjoy!

Learn more about how to utilize juvenile books in your family history in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode #35.

Learn more about Peter Newell and his work in this article from American Magazine:

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About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com. She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.