The Sixties

Brian Wildsmith for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses

The world of children’s books loves a ‘golden age’ and so do I. According to various experts there have been at least three, with most agreeing on the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century (from Alice to Pooh) as the first. Critics including Imogen Russell Williams and Amanda Craig have said we are living through another one (from Harry Potter to Rebel Girls).

John Burningham’s Borka

I’d argue that the period between the early sixties and the early eighties was the real Golden Age of children’s literature (from Charlie to the BFG – other authors are available, please ask).

Charles Keeping for Alan Garner’s Elidor

By the time I’d learned to read it was pretty much over. Aside from the latest Roald Dahl or Diana Wynne Jones, the children’s books I grew up with had mostly been created before I was born. One of the pleasures of writing this blog has been to dig deeper into this glorious period, discovering the hidden treasures that I missed.

Tove Jansson’s Moominpappa at Sea


To make the case for these golden years I’m going to divide them into two. Beginning with a list from the 1960s, a decade of experimentation in picture books, blockbuster authors and the beginnings of YA.

Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Were the 1960s the greatest decade in children’s literature? Cast your eye over this list and decide. At this stage it is not fixed – so I’d love to hear your selections of brilliant picture books, MG and YA. It would be great to find some more titles from outside the UK and US, and more diverse stories too.

60 from the 60s

  1. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960)
  2. This is New York by M. Sasek (1960)
  3. Lucy and Tom’s Day by Shirley Hughes (1960)
  4. Old Winkle and the Seagulls by Gerald and Elizabeth Rose (1960)
  5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer (1961)
  6. The General by Jane Charters and Michael Foreman (1961)
  7. Asterix the Gaul by Goscinny and Uderzo (1961)
  8. Brian Wildsmith’s ABC (1962)
  9. The Big Green Book by Robert Graves and Maurice Sendak (1962)
  10. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken and Pat Marriott (1962)
  11. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
  12. A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce and Antony Maitland (1962)
  13. The Twelve and the Genii by Pauline Clarke and Cecil Leslie (1962)
  14. A Letter to the King by Tonke Dragt (1962)
  15. Ivor the Engine by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (1962)
  16. Where the Wild things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)
  17. Borka by John Burningham (1963)
  18. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1963)
  19. Miffy by Dick Bruna (1963)
  20. Tintin: The Castafiore Emerald by Herge (1963)
  21. Stig of the Dump by Clive King and Edward Ardizzone (1963)
  22. Best Word Book Ever Richard Scarry (1963)
  23. The Wuggly Ump by Edward Gorey (1963)
  24. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Joseph Schindelman (1964)
  25. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964)
  26. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
  27. Play With Us: The Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme, 1a by William Murray and Harry Wingfield (1964)
  28. Elidor by Alan Garner and Charles Keeping (1965)
  29. Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson (1965)
  30. Mr Benn by David McKee (1965)
  31. Mother Goose Treasury by Raymond Briggs (1966)
  32. Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer (1966)
  33. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl and William Pene Du Bois (1966)
  34. Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness (1966)
  35. Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins (1967)
  36. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (1967)
  37. Frederick by Leo Lionni (1967)
  38. Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary by Charles Keeping (1967)
  39. The Mouse and His Child by Russell and Lillian Hoban (1967)
  40. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton (1967)
  41. The Dream-Time by Henry Treece and Charles Keeping (1967)
  42. Smith by Leon Garfield and Antony Maitland (1967)
  43. Puffin Post by Kaye Webb, Jill McDonald etc (1967)puffin 1967
  44. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. le Guin (1968)
  45. The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson and Joanne Cole (1968)
  46. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr (1968)
  47. Kes by Barry Hines (1968)
  48. The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and George Adamson (1968)
  49. The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon (1968)
  50. Patrick by Quentin Blake (1968)
  51. Tales from the Ballet by Alice and Martin Provensen (1968)
  52. Chocky by John Wyndham (1968)
  53. Fish and Chips for supper (1968) by Leila Berg and Peter Rose
  54. Children’s Games in Street and Playground by Iona and Peter Opie (1969)
  55. Stevie by John Steptoe (1969)
  56. Fireflies by Jiri Trnka (1969)
  57. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (1969)
  58. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (1969)
  59. The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear and Helen Oxenbury (1969)
  60. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)




16 thoughts on “The Sixties

  1. I learned to read by the very early 60s, and read and read and read…. When I ran out of ‘children’s books’ I raided my parents’ bookcases, but mostly I read Puffins (and later Peacocks). You might be interested in my very recent blog about my childhood reading, I don’t know about picture books though – most of those on your list are ones I remember reading to younger siblings and then to my own children, rather than reading them myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent list, which I’m still absorbing, and including a large number of titles I remember first time round! But . . . no Rosemary Sutcliff? Or William Mayne, Henry Treece, Geoffrey Trease? Still, good to see Joan Aiken represented (unmentioned in Roger Lancelyn Green’s Tellers of Tales (1969 edition) and Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, 50 years old this year. And let us not forget Jane Pilgrim’s Blackberry Farm picture books from the early 60s or David McKee’s Elmer in 1968.


  3. What a great list! When I was growing up (and we had very little money) most of the children’s books my family bought for me were from jumble sales, and included a lot of the books on this list and other 60s / 70s classics.

    I fell in love with “Harry by the Sea” by Margaret Bloy Graham and Gene Zion as a kid, and was surprised to find that it was published ten years after the first “Harry” book (I guess even back then publishing was a fairly slow process). I always secretly wished the entire “Harry” stories would be picked up by a publisher for plush reprints of the entire series (sadly it seems only 3 are in print any more, though you can still get hold of “Harry and the Lady Next Door” if you know where to look – a book that practically invented the ‘middle grade chapter’ format that gets celebrated so widely today.

    Awesome read Jake, really enjoyed this and it brought back a lot of happy memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I had no idea there were more Harry books – I love the first one. Interesting what you say about chapter books – it’s part of the I can Read Series, which also includes work by Sendak and Arnold Lobel. Quite a pedigree for an educational series.


  4. This is my new favorite blog. This is wonderful! I actually want to read all of it. Thank you for doing this.You got me with Jon Klassen he is my most favorite.


  5. Dear Tygertale,
    As Brian Wildsmith’s daughter, I would like to thank you immensely for the beautiful articles you have published alongside the glorious reproductions of his acclaimed artworks.I am in the process of building an extensive written and illustrated website in partnership with my brother and sister:
    it has needs a lot of research which explains why I come across your contributions at a rather late stage, but better late than never.
    For all of you who are fans or fans to become please don’t hesitate to contact us (enquiry page of site….coming soon)


  6. Astrid Lindgren was publishing new novels between 1944 and 1981 with some of her most beloved books in the sixties (Emil of Lönneberga, The Children of Scarecrow Island and others).


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