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ARCHIVED - Children's Literature

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Introduction

Specialized reference and research services, reading promotion activities — particularly the TD Summer Reading Club — as well as bibliographic services are offered through this unique Canadian collection.

The Canadian Children's Literature collection is used by:

  • Librarians, teachers, students and researchers
  • Authors, writers, illustrators, publishers and booksellers
  • Parents, children, teens and fans of Canadian children's literature.

About the collection

Established in 1975, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection of children's literature contains more than 140,000 books of fiction and non-fiction published in English and French, as well as other languages. A specialized reference collection of 5,000 books and a significant fonds of literary manuscripts and original illustrations add to its value as a research collection. Each year, the collection grows as LAC acquires books published in Canada through legal deposit, purchase or donation.

From early animal stories such as those written by Ernest Thompson Seton to adventure novels, this collection traces the history of children's books in Canada. Also included are teacher materials, primers as well as devotional and moralistic works reflecting Victorian values and attitudes instilled in children in the 19th century. Historical fiction along with the publishing of legends and folklore anthologies further enhanced the collection during the 20th century. Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, a classic of Canadian children's literature since 1908, is the most celebrated school story and realistic portrayal of life during that time.

In the 1970s, Canadian children's literature grew by leaps and bounds as contemporary problem novels for teens, fantasy, science fiction and high-quality picture books arrived on the publishing scene. The recent emergence of literary genres such as non-fiction and of multimedia books reveals that Canadian children's literature is flourishing. Thanks to Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers who have established themselves as key players in the international market, Canadian children's literature is recognized throughout the world.

The collection also includes books about Canada and Canadian culture and themes. An example is Hi Ha Canada, a picture book published in 1945 by Dutch illustrator Mart Kempers relating the moment Canadian soldiers liberated Holland.

Treasures

The Ronald I. Cohen collection of Lucy Maud Montgomery novels; pre-Confederation books such as Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush; the collection of 1920s L'Oiseau bleu magazines and others such as La Maison folle; and an artist's book written by Christiane Duchesne and bound by master bookbinder Odette Drapeau are examples of notable children's books in the LAC rare book collection.