Little Golden Books is a popular series of children's books. The first 12 titles were published October 1, 1942:
- Three Little Kittens
- Bedtime Stories
- Mother Goose
- Prayers for Children
- The Little Red Hen
- Nursery Songs
- The Alphabet from A to Z
- The Poky Little Puppy
- The Golden Book of Fairy Tales
- Baby's Book
- The Animals of Farmer Jones
- This Little Piggy and Other Counting Rhymes
As of 2005, 15 million copies of The Poky Little Puppy have been sold, including copies in various languages.
The Little Golden Books, which initially sold for 25¢, were published by Simon and Schuster in cooperation with the Artist and Writers Guild, Inc. headed by Georges Duplaix. Duplaix had initially thought up the idea for the Little Golden Book series and fleshed it out in conversations with officials at Simon and Schuster. Dr. Mary Reed a professor at the Teachers College of Columbia University served as initial editor of the series.
Western Printing and Lithographing Company in Racine, Wisconsin, was Simon and Schuster's partner in the Little Golden Books venture. Western handled the actual printing. In 1958, Simon and Schuster sold its interest in Little Golden Books to Western.
Ownership and control of the series has changed several times since. In 2001, Random House acquired Golden Books for about 85 million dollars.
Although the Little Golden Books have remained the backbone of the product line, the enterprise that produced the Little Golden Books has created a variety of children's books in various formats including records, tapes, videos, and even toys and games (the fourth and fifth as "Golden & Design"). Some titles have appeared in several different formats (including but not limited to "A Golden Book").
Many popular authors and illustrators have worked on Little Golden Books and related products including:
- Mary Blair
- Margaret Wise Brown
- Tibor Gergely
- Corinne Malvern
- Jim McDermott
- Alice Provensen and Martin Provensen
- Bob Staake
- Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky
- Patricia Scarry and Richard Scarry
- Gustaf Tenggren
- Jane Werner Watson
- Eloise Wilkin
- Garth Williams
- Herbert Zim
Although the details have changed over the years, the Little Golden Books have maintained a distinctive appearance. A copy of The Poky Little Puppy bought today is essentially the same as one printed in 1942. Both are readily recognizable as Little Golden Books. At the time of the golden anniversary, Golden Books claimed that a billion and a half Little Golden Books had been sold.
Some Little Golden Books and related products have featured popular children's icons from other media, eg. Sesame Street, the Muppets, Disney, Barbie, Power Rangers, etc. Television and movie tie-ins have been particularly popular. Over the years Hopalong Cassidy, Cheyenne, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Captain Kangaroo, and even Donny and Marie have appeared in Little Golden Books.
Many have dealt with nature and science, Bible stories, nursery rhyme, and fairy tales. Christmas titles are popular every year. The fact that many old titles remain in print shows the strong nostalgia appeal of Little Golden Books.
The official Random House website contains an interesting timeline for Little Golden Books.
In the year 2000, Encore Software produced a series of "Little Golden Books" titles for CD Rom, including the Poky Little Puppy, Mother Goose, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tootle, and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. These 6 individual titles were some of the first major software releases to be produced entirely in Macromedia Flash. They appeared in Time Magazine as part of an article entitled How to Raise a Superkid.
- "Announcing Little Golden Books." Publishers' Weekly. September 19, 1942. Pages 991-994.
- "A Birthday Celebration for Golden Books..." Publishers' Weekly. 221(15):24. April 9, 1982.
- "Fifty Years of Books 'For the Masses.'" Publishers' Weekly. 239(28: 28-31. June 22, 1992.
- "Random House Lands Golden Book Assets." Publishers' Weekly. 248(33):13& 23. August 20, 2001.
- "Simon & Schuster Inc." International Directory of Company Histories. 4:671-672. 1991.
- Greason, Rebecca. Tomart's Price Guide to Golden Book Collectibles. Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead Book Company, 1991.
- Santi, Steve. Collecting Little Golden Books: a Collector's Identification and Price Guide, 3rd Edition. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1998.
- Marcus, Leonard S. Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became An American Icon Along the Way. New York: Golden Books, 2007.
- About a dozen Little Golden Books online These are free to read full text versions provided by Golden Books Family Entertainment from their library, for free reading on the web, before that company sold to Random House.