Children’s Literature

The National Children’s Collection

The National Children's Collection (NCC) is our largest collection of books written for children and young people.

It’s based on the collection built up by the School Library Service which, from its establishment in 1942 until 1993, selected a range of books from publishers in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, the Pacific and New Zealand. From mid-1993, additions to the NCC have focused on New Zealand and Pacific children’s books and a smaller selection of overseas titles.

The NCC is mainly an English language collection but is also strong in books in Māori and Pacific Island languages.

The NCC contains approximately 95,000 books that are available for interlibrary loan.

Highlights of the collection

  • Most of the English and Māori children’s books published in New Zealand
  • A significant number of Pacific Island language books published in New Zealand
  • A strong showing in books from the United States published in the 1930s and 1940s

The Dorothy Neal White collection

The Dorothy Neal White Collection (DNW) is a research collection of children’s books that were enjoyed by young New Zealanders before 1940. The collection contains books from Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand that illustrate the overall development of children’s literature during the period.

While fiction predominates, non-fiction of a recreational nature is also included. Many of the books in the collection were received as prizes from school or Sunday school and many others bear gift inscriptions.

The collection comprises approximately 8,000 books and these are not available for interlibrary loan.

Offers of donations to our collection are welcome. Please contact our staff to discuss your offer.

Highlights of the collection

  • Many New Zealand and Australian books
  • Examples of early and classic children’s books
  • A representative selection of children’s annuals and serials
  • A complete set (2,369 titles) of the Chadwyck-Healey 19th century children’s books on microfiche, available for interlibrary loan

The Susan Price collection

The Susan Price Collection is a private collection gifted to the National Library in 1991.

At present it is curated by Susan Price in her home. At a future date it will be housed in the National Library as an example of an individual’s collection.

Her collection of approximately 20,000 books concentrates on fiction for nine to 18 year olds. Most of it is published since World War II and reflects Susan’s strong interest in history. It contains a non-fiction history section, children’s poetry, chapter books for the under nines, picture books, and folk tales.

There are also works of literary criticism and biographies of children’s writers.

Susan continues to add her choice of the best children’s books written in English from around the world up to the present day.

For a comprehensive description of her collection, read her book Books for life , published by Gondwanaland Press in 1991.

Highlights of the collection

  • Susan’s choice of the best historical fiction for children
  • Oxford University Press titles from the 1950s to the 1980s
  • Puffin Story Books and Puffin Picture Books.

Accessing the collection

Visitors are welcome to view the collection in Susan’s home - work space is available for researchers. Please make an appointment with Susan Price, telephone 04 475 8092 or fax 04 475 6194.

Other collections

In the Alexander Turnbull Library

Children’s books held in the Turnbull Library collections include:

  • Early 20th century illustrated books for children
  • New Zealand children’s books and books about publications for children that are collected and preserved as part of the Turnbull Library’s commitment to preserve the documentary record of the New Zealand experience
  • Children’s books published by Pacific Island nations
  • Children’s books that have been donated, often as part of a larger collection.

General lending and serials collections

Both the General Lending and General Serials collections contain resources to support the study of children’s literature. These include bibliographies and reviewing journals, subject guides, and some biographical works.

The International Children's Digital Library

The International Children’s Digital Library’s online collection includes books selected and digitised by the National Library.

The books reflect the similarities and differences in cultures, societies, interests, and lifestyles of people from around the world.

ICDL books from the National Library include versions in English, Te Reo, and other Pacific languages.