Nostalgia Machine: Big Little Books and Illustrated Classics

I’m always bound to run across treasures when I’m visiting my parents’ house, and this time around was no exception. Today, while rummaging through one of our closets, I came across several Big Little Books and Illustrated Classics that I used to read when I was a kid.

Big Little Books

Classics Illustrated
Finding these gems triggered a lot of enjoyable memories. I hadn’t seen the books in years. I assumed that my parents had gotten rid of them when they moved houses a decade ago and was bowled over to know that we still had them.
Big Little Books

Big Little Books were approximately 3″ x 3″ in size, and featured popular comic and cartoon characters of the day. In my collection were three Road Runner books and a few assorted cartoon characters (Popeye and Bugs Bunny).

Each Big Little Book contained an adventure, which spanned roughly 120+ pages. On the left page, there was text. On the right side was an illustrated panel describing the main story point for that page. I guess these books could be considered cousins to conventional comic books.


Some of the Big Little Books were also “Flip-Books” – that is, at the upper corner of each right page was a small frame. When rapidly flipping the pages you could see a short animation. As a kid, I remember being blown away by this. In fact, The Big Little Books would go on to inspire me to create my own little “flip books”, usually on the corner of my memo pads.

Best of all, the price for these books was under a $1.00. (Usually 75 cents).

Classics Illustrated

Illustrated Classics books followed a similar format to Big Little Books (no Flip-books, though), in that each page of prose had an accompanying panel that illustrated a specific story moment from the text.

The Illustrated Classics books were abridged adaptations of popular works of literary fiction. Some of the books in my collection include “Huck Finn”, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, “Ben Hur”, “The Oregon Trail”, and “David Copperfield”. The cover on these books was $1.25 (a true bargain!).
Classics Illustrated
Illustrated Classics were well illustrated. I prefer to think of them as a visual version of Cliff Notes. They were well written, straight-forward, and hit all the major story beats of the original text. They were great for last minute cramming. ;)

I’ll always treasure these books. I wish that they were still produced today. Maybe you remember these books, too. They were pretty neat, weren’t they?


These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Barry Buchanan
    June 27, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Wow, what a balst from the past. I had some of those books but they were always hand-me-downs from older siblings. Those books were much loved by me. My guess is I wore them out, especially the flip book versions. Thanks for showing your collection, it has brought back some great memories. Oddly enough I saw some Tinker Toys at the museum we took the kids to today. That was another great childhood memory. Many happy hours were spent with the Tinker Toys and the Little Big books.

  • Blaine Moore
    June 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Definitely brings back memories, I definitely had the Call of the Wild one you have pictured, might have had a few others.

    By the way, if you copyright your photos (vs some of the Creative Commons options) on Flickr then they don’t let you embed the images. Unless you are logged in as you, they show up as “Image not Available” on the post (although we can click through to look at them.)

    Just an FYI.

    • Krishna
      June 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks, Blaine! Hopefully the images will show up now. :)

      • Blaine Moore
        June 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

        Yup, they show up fine. (Checked in a different browser to make sure they weren’t just cached, so you should be good to go. :) )