Old children’s books are moving, intriguing, amusing and inspiring. They have value not only for the individual reader, but also for our society as a whole. Each successive Dutch generation grew up with its own specific children’s books, and each generation unconsciously adopted such moral standards and values as they contained. Children’s books serve as indispensable witnesses of an ever changing society
Within the framework of youth literature, picture books occupy a special place. In picture books, the images are just as important as the texts. They are by no means intended exclusively for young children. Old picture books reflect the views people held about good and evil, poor and rich; about education, with examples of dutiful and bad behaviour; about love for one’s own country and about people from foreign countries. They illustrate a changing world of new inventions and modes of transport, of living and fashion, of daily life in towns and villages. There is both humour and moralism to be found in children’s books; they play with the relationship between reality and fantasy.
A total of six hundred and fifty Dutch picture books, dating to the period 1810–1950, are brought together in this collection, which runs the gamut from Robinson Crusoe to Tielse Flipje (a cartoon mascot on ‘De Betuwe’ jam pot labels) and from old nursery rhymes to fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm: there is something for everyone in the collection.