Be delighted by our children's literature collection

Surprise and delight yourself with our rare and unique children's book collections dating back to the 1800s. These collections are preserved for their value to researchers, the university, and the wider community.

 books from the Nolan children's collection on shelves in a library
Nolan historical children's literature

Held in our Melbourne Library, this collection contains over 4000 items dating from the 1940s to the 1960s and continues to grow. It features traditional children's books such as The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs, which was published in 1947. Gibbs wrote and illustrated uniquely Australian fairy tales based on local flora and fauna. It was within this book that she expressed her commitment to conservation, with the opening inscription, "Humans, please be kind to all bush creatures and don't pull up flowers by the roots".

 title page of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie showing the characters in black and white with a full colour illustration of dancing gumnut babies on the facing page

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs from the Nolan Collection

Culican children's books

Also housed in our Melbourne library, this collection was named after ACU children's literature lecturer Mrs Elisabeth (Dinny) Culican and contains almost 1500 items dating from the 1800s to the 1940s.

Based on the life of the author Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters, first published in 1868, Little Women features beloved characters the March sisters and details their passage from childhood to womanhood. The book explores themes such as love and death, war and peace, and the conflict between finding your place in the world and family responsibilities. Made into many popular films, TV shows, and even anime since the 1930s, it is an enduring classic.

 title page of Little Women with a colour illustration of a girl in a bedroom on the facing page

A copy of Little Women from the Culican Collection, published in 1922 and featuring coloured illustrations.

Explore the Nolan and Culican collections online through our catalogue.

Access the physical collections by appointment

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