Library of Congress
Library of Congress

11 Rare Children's Books from the Library of Congress

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a collection of books that would make any bookworm turn green with envy. From the world's smallest book (only a measly 1/25 of an inch by 1/25 of an inch and smaller than a period) to a cuneiform tablet dating from 2040 B.C., they've got everything. One of their most interesting collections is their rare children's book library. Visitors can read the books in their entirety from the Library of Congress' online catalog. Here are 11 of our favorites.

1. A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway (1900)

This book by Kate Greenaway was designed to acquaint children with the alphabet. With simple sentences and elaborate drawings, A Apple Pie is kind of like an old-timey Sesame Street special. The book seems pretty promising as it starts with "A apple pie, B bit it, C cut it," until it gets to the last page, where the last six letters are stuffed onto a single page. Spoiler alert: UVWXYZ "all had a large slice and went off to bed."

2. The Arabian nights: Their Best-Known Tales, edited by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith; illustrated by Maxfield Parrish (1909)

While some editions of Arabian Nights—also known as One Thousand and One Nights—contain hundreds of stories, this children's edition focuses on the best and brightest of the bunch. The pages of this collection contain the well-known adventures of Aladdin and Sinbad. But don't expect to see this edition in most children's classrooms; the language was translated from Arabic to French to English, and the old-fashioned vocabulary of this edition is a closer cousin to Shakespeare than books like Where the Wild Things Are.

3. The Baby’s Own Aesop: Being the Fables Condensed in Rhyme, With Portable Morals Pictorially Pointed by Walter Crane (1887)

Like The Arabian Nights, The Baby's Own Aesop aims to bring well-known stories to a younger audience. This edition puts Aesop's fables into poems about animals that closely resemble nursery rhymes.

4. The Cheerful Cricket and Others by Jeannette Marks; illustrated By Edith Brown (1907)

In this book, the cheerful cricket and his friends—a crew of insects and other animals—teach children about important life lessons, like sharing and cooperation. For musically inclined families, little sing-alongs wrap up each story for parents to sing with their kids.

5. The Circus Procession by McLoughlin Bros. (1888)

The Ringling Brothers Circus was initially founded in 1884 and likely inspired the printing of McLoughlin Bros' The Circus Procession, which was printed only four years later. The book details a parade of animals and characters, including elephants, kings, and clowns.

6. A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible, or, Select Passages in the Old and New Testaments, Represented with Emblematical Figures, for the Amusement of Youth: Designed Chiefly to Familiarize Tender Age, in a Pleasing and Diverting manner, with Early Ideas of the Holy Scriptures by Isaiah Thomas (1788)

In 18th century America, an important task for youngsters was to become well-acquainted with the books of the Bible. In 1788, Isaiah Thomas published a copy of the religious text that replaced certain words with representative pictures. For instance, instead of using the word "dove" while explaining the story of Noah's ark, a picture of a dove is placed in line with the text. This book is one of the oldest in the Library of Congress' children's book collection.

7. Denslow’s Humpty Dumpty, adapted and illustrated by W.W. Denslow (1903)

We all know how the nursery rhyme goes: "Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall; All the king's horses, and all the king's men, cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again." But you might not know that this simple rhyme has an entire backstory to it. In this book, Humpty-Dumpty is introduced as a "smooth, round little chap with a winning smile" and not a care in the world. That is, except for the fact that he wishes he could be hard boiled so his heart wouldn't "wabble." And so the epic story begins.

8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum; illustrated by W.W. Denslow (1900)

This book by Frank Baum captures the famously well-known story of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz—as it was originally published. This book was also illustrated by the same guy who drew for Humpty-Dumpty.

9. The Slant Book by Peter Newell (1910)

One of the most creative titles on the Library of Congress' children's book list, The Slant Book explains all of the misadventures that occur when things are on a slant. (It's also pretty nifty that the book is literally on a slant itself.)

10. Gobolinks, or Shadow-Pictures for Young and Old by Ruth McEnery Stuart and Albert Bigelow Paine (1896)

Gobolinks is probably one of the strangest (and creepiest) titles on the list. Its pages contain different ink splotches that are coupled with well-known stories. (On one page, Little Red Riding-Hood's wolf lurks next to a piece of the story.) The book also explains how to make the inkblot monsters. Back then, making images from inkblots was better known as Klecksography; Rorschach would create the first systematic approach to interpreting inkblots in 1921.

11. A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy, and Pretty Miss Polly by Isaiah Thomas (1787)

A Little Pretty Pocket-Book is the oldest children's book in the Library of Congress' collection and is generally considered to be the first children's book in print. The book also aimed to teach children the basics of the alphabet with short, rhyming poems. When the book was first marketed, it came with either a free ball or pincushion depending on the gender of the child who received the book.

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
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20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
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They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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