Books written for children form an especially rich and enjoyable part of the Lilly Library’s collections. We owe our strength in children’s literature to J.K. Lilly, Jr., who collected first and early editions of his favorite American children’s books, and to Elisabeth Ball, who, along with her father, George Ball, enthusiastically collected children’s books on a remarkably wide-ranging scale. The present exhibition is based on the recent show by the Grolier Club of New York, entitled “One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature.” This “Grolier Hundred” is the latest entry in the series that begin in 1902 with the Club’s publication of One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature, which J. K. Lilly, Jr., used as a blueprint for his collecting in the field.
One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature includes some of the world’s best known books for children, from the mid-seventeenth-century onward. From Robinson Crusoe to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Winnie-the-Pooh to Where the Wild Things Are, this exhibition highlights some of most beloved stories written for and enjoyed by children. That we are able to display so many of them in first and early editions is due to the foresight and dedication of Ms. Ball and Mr. Lilly. We’re very grateful for what they have entrusted to us, and we’re pleased to be able to share their books with interested children of all ages.