A Little Pretty Pocket-Book

A Little Pretty-Pocket Book by John Newbery title page, black text on cream colored paper

Title page of A Little Pretty-Pocket Book

By John Newbery, Isaiah Thomas, 1787 (1744)

A Little Pretty Pocket-Book

Worcester, Mass.,  Isaiah Thomas, 1787 (1744)

2.5" x 4"

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

John Newbery

John Newbery

"A Little Pretty Pocket-Book was the first volume published for children by John Newbery of London. Of the edition, June 1744, no single copy has survived. The 1st American edition was published by Isaiah Thomas at Worcester, Mass., in 1787. This facsimile from the copy in the New York Public Library is issued by F.G. Melcher on the 10th of June, 1994, on the 200th anniversary of the book's first appearance."

- University of Minnesota Catalog

Guided by the Lockean principle that the best children's books entertain while instructing, London publisher John Newbery issued the first of many such texts, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, in 1744. Newbery's offerings struck a chord with forward-thinking parents, and the English market for children's trade books was born.

In 1779, a savvy Massachusetts printer named Isaiah Thomas began selling imported copies of the Newberys in his shops. When the supply ran out, he printed more—including the volume shown here—under his own name, which, in the days before international copyright protection, was not illegal. Thomas, who died one of the new republic's most respected cultural figures, was later hailed as the "American Newbery."


Click on any image to enlarge

A Little Pretty-Pocket Book by John Newbery interior page, drawing of two small children and their parents, the page reads "A little boy and girl asking a blessing of their parents"

Interior page of A Little Pretty-Pocket Book

By John Newbery, Isaiah Thomas, 1787 (1744)

A Little Pretty-Pocket Book by John Newbery interior page, a drawing of two children reading at a table, the page reads "A little boy and girl reading"

Interior page of A Little Pretty-Pocket Book

By John Newbery, Isaiah Thomas, 1787 (1744)