timeline

Little Golden Books 1940s

Average cost: 25¢

In 1941, children’s books normally sold for $2 to $3—a luxury for many families. George Duplaix, president of the Artists and Writers Guild, Inc. (a joint interest of Simon & Schuster Publishing and Western Printing) came up with the concept of developing a colorful children’s book that was durable and affordable for most American families.

September 1942: Simon & Schuster publishes the very first Little Golden Book. The original 12 titles included the following:

The Poky Little Puppy

Three Little Kittens

Bedtime Stories

The Alphabet from A to Z

Mother Goose

Prayers for Children

The Little Red Hen

Nursery Songs

The Golden Book of Fairy Tales

Baby’s Book

The Animals of Farmer Jones

This Little Piggy

September 19, 1942: First advertisement announcing Little Golden Books appears in Publishers Weekly.

February 1943: In five short months, Little Golden Books is in its third printing, with 1.5 million copies total printed.

1944: Due to its amazing success, Simon & Schuster launches a separate Little Golden Books division called Sandpiper Press, headed by George Duplaix.

1944: First Walt Disney Little Golden Book, Through the Picture Frame, is published.

1945: Most of the original 12 Little Golden Books are now in their seventh printing.

Little Golden Books

1950s–1970s

Average cost:

25¢ (1952); 29¢ (1962)

39¢ (1968); 59¢ (1977)

1951: Doctor Dan, The Bandage Man is released with Johnson & Johnson® Band-Aids glued to the right side of the title page. This marked one of the first ventures into book and product joint packaging. First printing is 1.75 million—the largest first printing of any Little Golden Book to date.

1952: Little Golden Books’ 10th anniversary. To this date, almost 183 million Little Golden Books have been sold, with The Night Before Christmas alone selling over 4 million copies.

1953: To date, almost 300 million Little Golden Books have been sold!

1954: Little Golden Books are now available throughout most of the world, except the Soviet Union, where at the time they were considered too capitalistic.

May 1, 1954: Release of Little Lulu and Her Magic Tricks, with a 2.25 million first printing. The book has a small package of Kleenex® tissues attached to its front cover and directions for how to make toys from the tissues. An extensive advertising and promotional campaign for this title leads to the book's appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Show the month it is released.

Mid-1950s: Top-selling Little Golden Books center around children’s TV shows and westerns (The Roy Rogers Show, Howdy Doody, The Lone Ranger, Captain Kangaroo, etc.).

Early 1960s: A large number of new Little Golden Books focus on popular Saturday morning TV shows such as Huckleberry Hound, The Bullwinkle Show, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, and Bozo the Clown.

Little Golden Books

1980s–1990s

1980s–1990s

Average cost:

89¢ (1982)

99¢ (1986)

1982: Little Golden Books turns 40. Over 800 million books have been sold.

November 20, 1986: One billionth Little Golden Book (The Poky Little Puppy) is printed.

1992: Little Golden Books celebrates its golden anniversary—50 years! In recognition of this milestone anniversary, a permanent Little Golden Books exhibit is given to the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit, titled “Little Golden Books and American Culture 1942–1992,” can still be viewed there.

December 1992: First Precious Moments™ Little Golden Book, Put on a Happy Face, is released.

1996: Publishers Weekly article lists The Poky Little Puppy.

[Julie: Copy missing above. PW lists The Poky Little Puppy . . . as what?]

Little Golden Books

Today

Average cost:

$2.99

March 2001: Publishers Weekly lists Scooby-Doo: The Haunted Carnival as the third bestselling hardcover children’s book title for 2000.

June 2001: Little Golden Books Classic line is launched to great success (many titles sell over 200,000 copies in just over a year!) The new line brings back popular vintage Little Golden Books titles based on consumer demand. The first six titles in this new library include:

Richard Scarry’s Good Night Little Bear

Animal Orchestra

The Lion’s Paw

The Fire Engine Book

The Little Red Hen

The Good Humor Man

2001: The Little Golden Books Classic line wins a 2001 Dr. Toy “Best Classic Toy” Award.

January 2002: Golden Books kicks off its 60th anniversary year with a special edition boxed set of Little Golden Books Classics.

January 2002: The Golden Books Library now includes over 1,200 unique titles!

2002: To date, over 2 billion Little Golden Books have been printed—enough to reach the moon!

October 1, 2002: Happy 60th Birthday, Little Golden Books!
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