C117_C.03 | An Alphabet of Birds
An Alphabet of Birds
1921, 20th century
Ink on paper
27 x 20 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Book (26)
Keys to History
Children's alphabet books were the earliest types of picture books produced for educational purposes; the first ones were published in Europe in the 16th century. In the 20th century, with many more young people knowing how to read, a much wider range of books became available. In the early years of the century, the number of books intended for children was still limited, and many of them were religious or educational publications. Starting in the 1940s, however, the variety of children's books broadened considerably to include biographies, novels, stories, adventure books, encyclopedias and comic books. With advances in printing techniques and, in particular, the introduction of photographic printing processes in the 1950s, it became possible to produce a wide range of good quality books, with colour illustrations, at affordable prices.
Always very popular with children, animal stories are among some of the first examples of children's literature published in English Canada.
In the early part of the 20th century, many children's books were imported from England, France and the United States.
The 19th century had already seen the creation of a whole range of educational games designed to help children learn the letters of the alphabet or basic arithmetic or science.
The Canada Games Co., a subsidiary of British Copp Clark Co., was founded in 1886. It made books and games and specialized in producing "Canadian" versions of popular American or European games, though these met with only limited success.