About the project

Explore centuries of stories, poems and illustrations with Discovering Children’s Books, a free online resource for children, teachers and book-lovers of all ages. The site explores the history and rich variety of children’s literature, drawing on inspiring material from medieval fables to contemporary picture books.

Over 150 treasures are waiting to be found, from one-of-a-kind manuscripts to original illustrations. Collection highlights include original drafts, artworks, poems and notebooks by beloved authors and illustrators including Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Kenneth Grahame, Judith Kerr, John Agard, Quentin Blake, Axel Scheffler, Lauren Child, Zanib Mian and Liz Pichon. The website also provides access to some of the earliest printed works created for a young readership and an array of movable, miniature, noisy and toy books, propaganda stories, comics, poems and fairy tales.

For the writers and artists of the future, there’s a gallery of activities to spark children’s creativity and inspire their own stories, poems, illustrations and more.

The site also includes films showing illustrators at work in their studios, including Axel Scheffler’s masterclass on how to draw a Gruffalo. Plus you'll find interviews with authors and illustrators such as Quentin Blake, Julia Donaldson, Michael Rosen, Lauren Child, Andy Stanton, Zanib Mian, Joseph Coelho, Jacqueline Wilson, Viviane Schwarz and SF Said, revealing their creative processes, memories of childhood reading and tips for budding writers and artists.

Discovering Children’s Books was created in partnership with Newcastle University, Seven Stories, the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford) and the V&A.

We would like to thank the following project advisors and partners:

Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Newcastle University
Julia Eccleshare
CLPE, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
The Roald Dahl Story Museum
The Roald Dahl Story Company
Royal Collection Trust
Bob Cox

With thanks to all the individuals, literary estates, agents and publishers who have been kind enough to allow us to put this archival material online.

Discovering Children's Books has been generously supported by Charles and Nicky Manby.

The project’s associated Outreach Programme is supported by The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity and The Steel Charitable Trust.

The Goldsmiths' Company Charity logo

Discovering Literature has been supported since inception by Dangoor Education.

Dangoor Education

Access and Reuse Guidance Notes

Discovering Children's Books is an educational resource aimed at children, teachers and lifelong learners. A lot of the material in the resource can be reused for non-commercial purposes, and we hope teachers and students will use this material in the classroom. We do ask that you check the usage terms by each item to ensure that material is available for reuse.

The British Library asks that anyone reusing digital images from this collection applies the following principles:

  • Please respect the creators – ensure traditional cultural expressions and all ethical concerns in the use of the material are considered, and any information relating to the creator is clear and accurate.
  • Please note, any adaptations made to an image should not be attributed to the original creator and should not be derogatory to the originating cultures or communities.
  • Please credit the source of the material – providing a link back to the image on the British Library’s website will encourage others to explore and use the collections.

This usage guide for images is based on goodwill. It is not a legal contract. We ask that you respect it.

For any further questions please contact copyright@bl.uk