Our Favorite Vintage Illustrations from Classic Children’s Books


After spotting a post on Brainpickings on these magical illustrations that Maurice Sendak created for a 1960s edition of The Velveteen Rabbit, we couldn’t resist hunting down other vintage children’s book illustrations — with wonderful results. Alongside the words of such adored authors as Beatrix Potter and Munro Leaf lay simple black-and-white sketches, vibrantly hued drawings, and eccentric portraits that serve as delightful embellishment to timeless stories. Not only do these illustrations lift the tales off of the page, but they have been a source of inspiration for artists and crafters over the past decades. Join us as we round up amazing vintage illustrations from children’s literature, and feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

Langston Hughes, The First Book of Jazz, F. Watts, 1955. Illustrated by Cliff Roberts [Image via]

Gertrude Stein, The World Is Round, William R. Scott Inc., 1939. Illustrated by Clement Hurd [Image via]

Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit, Grosset & Dunlap, 1962. Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard [Image via]

Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand, The Viking Press, 1936. Illustrated by Robert Lawson [Image via]

Margret Rey, George Flies a Kite, Houghton Mifflin, 1958. Illustrated by H.A. Rey [Image via]

Kenneth Townsend, Felix, The Bald-Headed Lion, A Seymour Lawrence Book, Delacorte Press Edition, 1967. Illustrated by Kenneth Townsend [Image via]

Evelyn Scott, The Fourteen Bears, Golden Press, 1969. Illustrated by Virginia Parsons [via]

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Harper & Brothers, 1949. Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard [Image via]

Paul Galdone, The Hare and the Tortoise, McGraw Hill Book Co., 1962. Illustrated by Paul Galdone [Image via]

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, Harper & Row, 1963. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak [Image via]

Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline, A Little Golden Book, 1954. Illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans [Image via]

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943. Illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry [Image via]

Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Knopf, 1970. Illustrated by Donald Chaffin [Image via]

Dr. Seuss, The Cat In The Hat, Random House, 1957. Illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel [Image via]

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth, Random House Inc., 1972. Illustrated by Jules Feiffer [Image via]

Best in Children’s Books: Volume 35 (various authors and illustrators: featuring, Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams), 1960. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak [Image via]

Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree, Harper & Row, 1964. Illustrated by Shel Silverstein [Image via]

A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh, Dutton Children’s Books, 1926. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard [Image via]