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Over 8,000 Vintage Children’s Books Available for Free

 Some people resent the technological progress we have been experiencing over the course of over two decades. They say the times used to be simpler before all this technology came in and robbed us of our human traits and social skills. While I do agree that humanity is greatly affected by technology, it is important to acknowledge that the same technology can also do great justice to the past. Such is the case with digital archives of historical documents. 
I'd like to introduce you to two digital archives of vintage children's books: the UCLA Children's Book Collection, and the UFDC Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature
 

Cinderella, first published in 1865.

UCLA Archive Information
In UCLA's archive, there are over 1,800 books. You can browse the books by year, topic, language, and writer. There's also a search bar to search book titles. By clicking on a thumbnail you enter the book. When you scroll down you can details like the date of publication, names of authors, and the condition of the original copy. On the right there's a menu of all the download options: you can download the entire book as a PDF file or get it straight to your kindle. 

Goody Two Shoes, first published in 1888.

UCLA Archive Navigation
On the UCLA reading display, you have many options to explore the book. It is one of the most convenient displays of online reading I have ever experienced. On the top left corner, you can search the text or click the 3 dot icon to adjust the brightness, share the file and add bookmarks. On the bottom right corner of the reader, you can choose a one-page or two-page view, you can have the book read to you at multiple speeds and languages, and you can zoom in and out. There's also the option of a full-screen display. To flip a page you can scroll, click the arrows, slide the bottom bar or click the pages themselves. The display tells you which page you're on and how many pages there are in total. 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1888. 

UFDC Archive Information
In this archive, there are 6900 books in total. You can browse them by language, author, year of publication, publisher, topic and geographical area. You can sort the collection alphabetically or by date. On the top left corner, you can choose to view the books in a detailed or shortened list as well as in thumbnail view. When in thumbnail view, hovering over a book will reveal details like the year of publication and the name of the author. The free-typing search is a little complex, as is often the case in academic archives. By clicking on a thumbnail you enter the book.

Remarkable Story of Chicken Little, first published in 1865.

UFDC Archive Navigation
When inside the book, you'll see a blue menu bar across the screen. You can click the Downloads option to see what can you download from the book. Here the options aren't as many as in the UCLA archive. You can open the Go To drop-down menu to skip straight to a certain page or enter the Page Turner. Clicking on a page will flip it. On the top of the page, you'll have navigation arrows as well. Here you can also type in the page number you'd like to skip to. On the top left corner, you can zoom in and out and in the top right corner, you can click Return to Item and exit the page-turner. You don't have to use the page-turner to read the book; this can be done also straight as you enter the book itself. 

Jack and Jill and old Dame Gill, first published in 1806.

The genre of children's literature didn't exist before the mid-18th century. Books were rarely created specifically for children, just as they didn't have designated children's clothes. Children were dressed as little adults and were expected to behave that way as well. Children's books were mainly educational, with little to no illustrations. But as the times changed, educators took children's perspectives more and more into consideration. The demand for a new type of children's literature caused a change in the face of the genre. Technological innovations in typography and print mechanisms allowed for greater distribution, as more and more people became literate. Illustrations were still scarce and confined mainly to the front cover. 

Little Playfellows, first published in 1884.

Fairy Tales by Hand Christian Andersen, first published in 1868.

Aladdin, or, the Wonderful Lamp, first published in 1850. 

Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, first published in 1864. 

ABC Rhymes, first published in 1880. 

The Absent-Minded Fairy, first published in 1884. 

Zigzag Journeys on the Mediterranean, first published in 1893. 

The Zoological Gardens, first published in 1875. 

Young Folks' Picture Gallery, first published in 1891. 

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