Text Box: Golden words at bedtime


LITTLE Golden Books are as much a part of childhood as sticky Vegemite fingers.
For 40 years, Australian youngsters have been introduced to the wonderful world of words through Scuffy the Tugboat, The Saggy, Baggy Elephant and fiends.
When parents read The Taxi That Hurried to their youngsters, it brings back memories of when they were the ones tucked under the covers, enjoying a bedtime story, courtesy of Little Golden Books.
Only now do they realise that not only is the compact length of the story just enough for children to handle but the teller also appreciates its brevity!
The problem of choosing a book that takes too long is never a problem when a child picks up one of those books with the recognisable printed gold-foil binding.
Aspiring writers and artists have also  benefited from Little Golden Books. Some famous illustrators of children's books, such as Richard Scarry, Margaret Wise Brown, Eloise Wilkin and Gustaf Tenngren, created many of the original Little Golden Books.

a This month, Little Golden Books will sell its 200-millionth Little Golden Book in Australia. Stretched cover to cover, they would encircle the globe.
"Books are an important part of a child's life," pre-school consultant at the Children's Services Office, Ms Jenny
Allen, said. "Good books are of fundamental importance to the healthy development of children.
"Having stories read and told to them is the beginning of literacy.
"If they are affordable books, they are worth their weight in gold."
Ms Allen said Little Golden Books were within the price range of most families and provided tremendous variety.
These included picture books, verse and traditional stories.
"Talking and listening are the background of children's learning," Ms Allen said. "Books feed and enrich the language of children, increasing their vocabulary and their understanding of the meanings of words."
They also increased children's understanding of the world, she said. "Books provide children with experience - new, old, familiar, imaginative, fantasy.
Through stories and books, children find meanings to the experiences that they have already had in life, and they learn about experiences they may have in the future."
Children enveloped in a story as a listener or a reader "leave the safety of their own environment and go on an adventure", she said.
"It is a discovery process 'that can allow them to try out new roles, predict outcomes and experience many new ideas and situations, without being actively involved. They are able to retreat when they choose."
The fear and wonder of fairytales helped children's emotional development, she said.
Some of today's range of Little Golden Books ... Australian sales will reach 200m this month.
Little Golden Books, aimed at the three to seven-year-old market, has expanded and diversified since the first line of hard-cover books was printed in Australia in 1948.
The aim was to produce storybooks that were appealing and inexpensive.
At the equivalent of 25c each, more than lm copies of the first six titles were sold in six months.
Little Golden Books now have more than 900 titles, with 300 in print each year. Some of the favorite characters art also found on cassettes and video.
The books are still within pocket-money range. Little Golden Books cost about $1.99 each, while the My First Little Golden Books cost about 99c.


Doctor Dan, the bandage man.  ,The Little Golden ABC.
Whole trove of golden treasure

I'D be surprised if there was an Australian alive who could claim to going through childhood without reading at least one Little Golden Book.
They are as much an institution to true-blue Strines as Vegemite and tomato sandwiches.
The one I recall most -still have it, in fact - is Doctor Dan The Bandage Man.
It is most memorable not for the literary content, but for the fact that it had three real Band-Aids stuck to the first page.
The story, in fact, is an embarassment in the Women's Lib-conscious 80s: it has a Daddy who works, a Mummy who stays at home putting Band-Aids on her children, a little boy who plays rough games and turns into Dr Dan, and his little sister who cries when her dolly falls out of the play trolley and who needs her big brave brother to put a bandage on dolly's knee.
The stereotypes are enough to make a grown feminist cry.
Nevertheless, my sevenyear-old thought it was terrific when Mummy stuck three new Band-Aids in the old empty space.
That book and all the rest of my 30-plus year old collection were read avidly.
Perhaps that continuity - books passing between generations - is the key to the success of Golden Press, which this month celebrates the sale of 200 million Little Golden Books.
That is one heck of a lot of books and indicates an awful lot of satisfied, small customers.
The first Little Golden Book was printed in Australia in 1948 by former music publisher Jack Davis and sold for two shillings and sixpence.
Davis's idea was to develop a good, but inexpensive, children's storybook.
It worked - within six months, the first six books had sold more than one million copies.
These days, the series has swelled to more than 900 titles with 300 in print each year.
Among them are some old familiar favorites' which have been around for 40 years: Alice In Wonderland Meets the White Rabbit, Cinderella, The Little Red Caboose, Mother Goose, Frosty the Snowman, Hansel and Gretel, The Three Bears, and Tootle.
However, Doctor Dan The Bandage Man seems to have been given the flick.
It isn't hard to work out why the books are such a raging success: they are easy to read aloud to three to seven-year-clds, the subject matter is simple, the pictures appealing, the cost low.
Take The Little Golden ABC, one of the celebration publications.
It's meant for teenytinies who can't read yet, but who can recognise bright, clear pictures when they see them.
In case you ever wondered about the books' popularity, the all-time great favorite is The Poky Little Puppy.
Over the years it has sold more than 13 million copies.
Now that's real literary success.