Storytelling has been critical sense the dawn of human existence. That sharing of stories from one generation to the next is how we have come to understand what we are now. While our lives are ever evolving we look to the stories of the past to understand the present. We tell our children fables, myths, and stories to protect them, and make them wiser. The hope is that the stories will inform our children's' choices so they will make better ones.
An important reason children's books were so significant besides teaching important lessons, or being many children's first exposure to reading, is that they were a primary form of entertainment. There was a time when there was no Netflix. Read that again....no Netflix. There was no TV, radio, iPhone, movies or video games. Books were a primary source of information (no Google back then sorry.) Furthermore, books were a primary source of entertainment. Arthur Rackham may be children's books most important illustrators whose influence is still felt to this day.
Children's books took children on journeys to places they couldn't travel to because of either cost or danger.
The special effects we crave in modern entertainment were found during those times in the amazing art of these wondrous books.
These books explored danger like modern films do. Of course, the biggest differences is while modern film is limited to it's monetary budgets, the only budget of illustration is the imagination.
Personal reflection and lifestyle beyond what the reader was accustomed to was explored.
The realm of magic and fairies came to life in these books.
Personification of the creatures the authors described would come to life in the art so the reader could relate to what was occurring in the story.
The art was beautiful.
Rackham would illustrate such important stories such as Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as well countless other famous tales.
His work would go on to influence famous modern movie directors such as Guillermo Del Toro who directed Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim. Other modern film franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit would be heavily influenced by Rackham too.
Harry Potter's Goblins from Gringotts's Bank.
The Lord of the Rings...
So we will journey through these books to understand the root of commercial arts as a form of entertainment and enlightenment.