The number of titles in this series must run into many hundreds, coming out in steady stream since the 1940s. The publisher is Golden Press (Western Publishing Co.).


Many of the best-sellers in this series were unduly influenced by John Dewey's theory of progressive education, which argued that the primary goal of growing up is not to become learned or godly or even good, but to become socially well adjusted. Some early titles boast that they were prepared under the supervision of a professor at Columbia Teacher's College, a hotbed of Deweyism. Therefore, before buying a Little Golden Book, you should make sure that it is not a Deweyite tract. The one that most clearly denounces individualism and praises conformity with the crowd is Tootle, the story of the little engine who learned that leaving the tracks to smell the flowers is bad and shameful.

Some Little Golden Books are simply peculiar, perhaps the worst being Tawny Scrawny Lion. A family of rabbits convinces a lion to give up meat in favor of carrot stew. You heard me right. The authors do not seem to understand that legitimate children's literature, however cloaked in fantasy or compounded of improbability, always conducts the child further into the real world, the world he must live in. It never purchases happy endings at the price of crushing reality. This particular book seems to be a protest against the idea of original sin. It suggests that the lion is bad only because he has been deprived of love.

Yet in so long a series with so many outstanding contributors, there must be some good titles, and indeed there are. My favorites are Mickey Mouse's Picnic (by Jane Werner, illustrated by the Walt Disney Studio, from 1950), Wiggles (by Louise Woodcock, pictures by Eloise Wilkin, from 1953), The Country Mouse and the City Mouse: Three Aesop Fables (told by Patricia Scarry, pictures by Richard Scarry, from 1961), and Tommy's Camping Adventure (by Gladys Saxon, pictures by Mel Crawford, from 1962).


Many of the early favorites are reprinted from time to time, so they are still available.


For most, ages 2-5.