What Was the First Children's Book?
Johann Amos Comenius created the first book for children in 1658. Also the first picture book, his Orbis Sensualium Pictus, provided children with an elementary encyclopedia and employed a new educational technique: teaching kids with pictures. The woodcut images charmed children, and educators marveled at the method.
A Little Nonsense Now and Then
William Roscoe wrote the first nonsense story, The Butterfly’s Ball, in 1806. Kids delighted in the ridiculous rhyme about a bug bash. Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense followed in 1846 and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in 1865.
Fantasies from Fairy Tales
In 1937, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit refashioned fairy tales into a new genre: epic fantasy. World War I had killed the Victorian enthusiasm for fairy tales and most authors who survived machine guns and mustard gas wrote to confront real life. During their time in the trenches, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis found comfort in inventing tales and myths.