Publications: Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves, 1922-1941

From 1922 until 1941, the American Library Association produced a series of bibliographies for children’s libraries known as Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves. Each installment is rich with the experienced perspectives of children’s librarianship leaders of its time. Read on to learn more about Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves!

In 1923, at the request of the Boy Scouts of America, the Children’s Librarians’ Section (now Association for Library Service to Children) published a bibliography of recommended children’s books for a home library. In fact, as seen in the three images above, an earlier version of the list was first distributed during the November 12-18, 1922 Children’s Book Week. The 1922 edition would be 15 pages long, and it would include subsections for “Books for the Younger Children” as well as “Books for Older Boys and Girls”.

The 1923 edition, as seen above, further subdivided into three sections, including “For Children Under Eight”, “For Boys and Girls from Eight to Twelve”, and “Books for Older Boys and Girls”.

The following year, the 1924 edition would include both new publications in children’s literature and a rear cover announcement concerning the recently established (1922) Newbery Award.

The 1925 edition included even more new titles and cover image courtesy of the National Association of Book Publishers too.

After two years, the 1927 edition, while continuing to include new children’s literature titles, would be the first publication produced every other year.

Two years later, the 1929 edition would be the first edition printed on colored paper, and it was produced by the newly organized Section for Library Work with Children‘s Book Evaluation Committee.

In 1931, the publication would return to white paper, and it would also be the last year of Boy Scouts of America‘s Chief Scout Librarian Franklin K. Mathiews’ long service on the book committee.

In 1935, as the Section for Library Work with Children continued to grow, the committee had become a subcommittee of three librarians within the expanding Book Evaluation Committee. This edition also featured further subdivision into four sections including, “Picture Books”, “To Read to Little Children”, and both Books for Boys and Girls “From 9 to 11 Years Old” as well as “From 12 to 15 Years Old”.

In 1938, Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves would be printed again on colored paper, and multiple attributed images would be included throughout the publication too. For example, in the image above, an image from Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand is attributed to the book’s illustrator (and future 1941 Caldecott and 1945 Newbery award winner) Robert Lawson.

Finally, in 1941, the tenth edition ends this series with the most amount of images and the most amount of subsections too. The familiar sections include “For the Very Young”, “From 7 to 9 Years Old”, “From 10 to 12 Years Old”, and “For the Teens”. For a section like “For the Very Young”, additional subsections include “Picture-Story Books”, “Read Me a Story, Please”, “Rhyme and Rhythm”, and “Tiny Treasures” which includes popular characters in smaller books that fit into a child’s hand.

From an exciting idea proposed to the A.L.A., a great amount of librarians would collaborate to produce a reference tool which would continue to find success beyond its original goal. After almost 20 years of collaboration, this ten-edition publication series would come to end, after decades of helping current and future readers everywhere.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 24/33/15 database record entry, for more information.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and library leadership. Do you have any information about early Gifts for Children’s Book-Shelves participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.