Children's literature

A guide to children's literature including resources at the State Library and elsewhere

Historical overviews of children's literature

This guide helps you find national and thematic histories in children's literature.

To find historical overviews search the Library catalogue  using the terms Childrens stories history OR Childrens literature history and click Search. You can refine your search using the options in the column on the left hand side of your screen, such as Subject or Creation date.

To find articles in this field click on the 'Literary criticism' tab at the top of this page and follow the instructions for database searching outlined there.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online is a new database of 19th century texts for children which includes many examples of historical children's books. After clicking on this link, select the view online option, limit your search to Children's Literature and Childhood, then add your keywords in the search box

Histories of Australian children's literature

To find the literary history of Australian children's books you should consult historical overviews and bibliographies using the catalogue search strategy identified above. Some useful print resources are listed here:

Click on the video opposite to hear about the short lived, mid 20th century publishing phenomenon of the John Mystery Books. Click here to read an online article about the John Mystery books by Juliet O'Conor in Papers: explorations into children's literature

Click here to read an online article by Afsana Khan about advertising in Australian children's literature in Papers:explorations into children's literature

Australian bibliographies

To find lists of Australian children's books, search the Library catalogue using the phrase children's literature Australian bibliography. You can refine your search using the options shown in the column on the left hand side of the results list.

Notable bibliographies of Australian children's books include:

Histories of overseas children's literature

To find the history of children's book publishing in a specific country follow the instructions for finding Australian historical overviews given above, but substitute the name of the country you choose or a region such as Europe.

In the Redmond Barry Reading Room there are a number of recent historical overviews of children's literature published in countries other than Australia. Some examples of print resources are listed here:

Thematic histories

To find thematic histories of children's literature follow the search strategy given above using the terms children's stories history plus your specific subject, such as school for histories of school stories for children.

Thematic histories reveal trends in children's literature through a specific perspective. Some examples include:

Gender and Sexuality


Religion and Politics


Bottersnikes and other lost things


John Mystery Books

Children's Literature Digital Resources

AustLit initiated the Children's Literature Digital Resources website which links to full text and images of out of copyright digitised Australian children's books and criticism.