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Children's Literature & Media Historical Information

2020 New York Public Library marks its 150th anniversary and releases its all-time most checked out books:

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  5. To Kill a Mockinigbird by Harper Lee

Children's Literature Historical Timeline

  • Timeline - for media and children's literature development

Historical Research ideas

For children's literature

Significant Historical Research

Sara Graça da Silva & Jamshid Tehrani created an evolutionary tree that traces the origins of some popular fairy tales.
Source. Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales. By Sara Graça da Silva & Jamshid J. Tehrani; The Royal Society; January 20, 2016.

Historical Artifacts related to Children's Literature

First recorded story - on Earth - ever written? (2100 bc)

Piece from the Epic of Gilgamesh - Gilgamesh and the Humbaba

English Bayeux Tapestry - (1066)

A story in textile about the Invasion of England or the Battle of Hastings (1066) told in thread - Sites for the Bayeux Tapestry

Chaucer's Canterbury Tale - (1380 + or - some )

Three Young Men and Death

The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by William Roscoe - (1807)

Sample pages in McGuffey Readers - (1834)

Excerpt from possibly the first comic book published in 1842 in the United States
as: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, by Rodolphe Töpffer

Rodolphe Töpffer created an illustrated book with characteristics of a comic book: pacing, storytelling, humor and whimsically exaggerated characterts. He personally sold his first book, Vieux-Bois, to bookshops across Europe.

The demand was good after the book was published and illicit copies were made by other people early in 1838. Töpffer redrew and refined his book and sold it in direct competition. However, Wilson and Company used the bogus copy to create the version that came to America with the name of The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck. This version had a better artistic style and maintained the origitnal layout and pacing. Thus becoming the first comic book available in America.

comic image

One of his best known cartoons, in the scientific community, is his spoof on the idea of phrenology having a scientific basis.

First American Comic

Caption reads -

Moving on to the demonstrative proof, Mr. Craniose unpacks his collection, and shows that phrenology is based on facts, that these facts are bumps, that these bumps indicate thievery in a head belonging to a thief, murder in a head belonging to a murderer, and knowledge in a head belonging to a scientist.

Early Writings

Early writing in America. Dated to around 900 BCE
( 800-1000 BCE)

Thought to be a poem as the images repeat in a pattern similar to the pattern of Mesoamerican poetic couplets. Scientific American July 2015stone etching imagediagram of symbols

Early writing in America 850 BCE

Photo early artifact with printing on it.


Evolution of the alphabet

Evolving alphabet diagram


First story ever written?
(2100 BCE)

Read a tale from the
Epic of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh and the Humbaba


in the Louvre Museum