Looking over the collection of Little Golden Books for sale from Radel’s collection — from left: Joan Carruthers, Ardis Nielsen, Roger Nielsen, Cheryl Diede, Tim Tauer and Kathy Pederson.

All you may want to know about Little Golden Books, you can learn from college professor Ellen Radel

 As a parent, and a teacher by profession, Ellen Radel of Willmar spoke with passion and enthusiasm about her hobby of collecting children’s books during the annual meeting of the Springfield Area Historical Society the evening of April 16. 

Ellen Radel, semi-retired college professor,  remembers reading Little Golden Books as a child, and now enjoys reading with her grandchildren. She says she enjoys the “magic” of reading to children.

Of the approximately 1,400 Little Golden Books currently published, Radel has collected 984 unique titles, including copies of the original 12 books published in 1942.

She has about 3,000 duplicate copies of titles, which she sells for a dollar or two while continuing the search to buy missing titles to add to her bookshelves.  She sold a few of those books during her visit to Springfield last week.

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children’s books. The eighth book in the series, The Poky Little Puppy, is the top-selling children’s book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including  Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became staples within the picture book industry.

Many books in the Little Golden Books series deal with nature and science, Bible stories, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. Christmas titles are published every year. Some Little Golden Books and related products have featured children’s characters from other media, for example,  Sesame Street, the Muppets, Disney, Looney Tunes, Barbie, Power Rangers, etc. Television and movie tie-ins have been particularly popular. 

The series originated with Simon & Schuster; Western Printing and Lithographing Company in Racine, Wisconsin was Simon & Schuster’s partner in the Little Golden Books venture, with Western handling the actual printing. Ownership and control of the series has changed several times since; Little Golden Books are currently published by Penguin Random House.

Although the details have changed over the years, the Little Golden Books have maintained a distinctive appearance. A copy of The Poky Little Puppy bought today is essentially the same as one printed in 1942. Both are readily recognizable as Little Golden Books. At the time of the series’ golden anniversary in 1992, Golden Books claimed that a billion and a half Little Golden Books had been sold. Although the Little Golden Books have remained the backbone of the product line, the enterprise that produced the Little Golden Books has created a variety of children’s books in various formats, including records, tapes, videos, and even toys and games.


See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.

Springfield Advance-Press

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