Children's books

Overview of the children's books collection

  • Contents: collection of printed works for children, including children's books and children's magazines, from the 16th century to the present plus reference works on children's literature.
  • Size: about 255,000 children's books and magazines and 12,000 reference works.
  • Access: available for inspection in the KB. Many digitised versions are also available through the KB catalogue and the Central Database of Children's Books (CBK).
  • More informationKarin Vingerhoets.

Collection contents

The large collection of children's books contains classics such as Jantje zag eens pruimen hangen by Hieronymus van Alphen and Sint Nikolaas en zijn knecht by Jan Schenkman. It also includes forgotten advertising booklets, countless publications of fairy tales, well-known children's magazines, children's bibles, colourful picture books, exciting boys' books, ‘bakvisromans’ (novels for teenage girls) and as many as 100 editions of Dik Trom, among others.

Old children's books are an interesting reflection of their time and are often beautifully illustrated with pictures that also convey a lot of information. Picture books, children's stories and young adult books are a source of study and entertainment for researchers and lovers of old children's books and children's literature. We support this with interesting Dutch and foreign reference works and magazines on children's books and children's literature. Much of the old children's book collection has been digitised.

  • Illustration from Hieronymus van Alphen, Kleine gedigten voor kinderen (Small poems for children), 1783. This copy contains hand-coloured illustrations and famous poems such as 'Jantje zag eens pruimen hangen' and 'Het vrolijk leeren'. 

Background of the children's book collection

The KB children's book collection focuses mainly on Dutch-language children's books published in the Netherlands and foreign translations of them, plus foreign children's books about the Netherlands. The collection includes, for example, nijntje (Miffy) in dozens of translations and American children's books full of tulips and windmills from the 'Holland mania' period. The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library in Antwerp preserves Flemish children's books. You won't find those with us.

Children's books have been part of the KB's collection since its earliest beginnings, but we did not actively collect them in the 19th century. Several large collections arrived in the first half of the 20th century, including Agatha, Waller and Boekenoogen. Starting in the 1960s, the collection was deliberately supplemented with, among others works, award-winning children's books and masterpieces from the collection of C.F. van Veen. Since 1974, the KB has received many Dutch children's books directly from publishers as part of the Depository of Dutch Publications.

In 1997, the large Boek en Jeugd (Book and Youth) collection was transferred by the NBLC to the Letterkundig Museum (Literary Museum) now known as the Literatuurmuseum (Museum of Literature). The museum gave the collection of about 75,000 volumes to us on long-term loan and it became our property in 2021. The children's book collection continues to grow daily thanks to donations from collectors, publishers and partner institutions, as well as purchases through auctions and antiquarian booksellers.

  • Roodkapje (Little Red Riding Hood), Gebr. Belinfante, 1865. Early pop-up book containing 8 lithographs of 3 segments. They are connected with ribbons and can be set upright.

How can the collection be accessed?

The KB children's book collection is listed in the KB catalogue and in the Central Database of Children's Books (CBK). The CBK is the largest and most useful online catalogue for Dutch-language children's books. Through its extensive search capabilities, the CBK supports research into, for example, the publication history of a book, the study of certain topics in children's literature, specific genres, or publications from a particular period. The CBK is supplemented daily with new descriptions and links to digital versions of children's books available in DelpherDBNL and Google Books

Items from the collection can be requested via the KB catalogue and viewed in the general reading room or in the Special Collections reading room. The reference collection of reference works and magazines on children's literature is partly accessible in print and partly in digital format. You can get printed examples yourself from the shelf in the Special Collections reading room or request them via the KB catalogue. The children’s books and reference works are not lent out to KB members. However, libraries and museums can request items on loan from the collections.

Donation of children's books

Although the KB children's book collection is quite large, there are still many publications missing. Donations of Dutch-language children's books and youth magazines that we do not yet have are therefore very welcome. We also include foreign translations of Dutch publications. You can check the KB catalogue or the CBK to see if we already have the publications you wish to donate. 

Interested in donating children's books or volumes of children's/youth magazines that are in good condition and not yet in the KB children's book collection? Fantastic! Please send an email with detailed information to collection specialist @email or to the donations mailbox @email. Unfortunately, we cannot process children's books sent unannounced or handed in at the front desk. Find more information on donations here. 



  • Kok, J. & Vingerhoets, H. Kinderboeken en centsprenten in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB): vijftien jaar groei van Nederlands erfgoed. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 2013.