Kiddosphere: Royal Reads: Books About Queen Victoria
I don’t know about you, but I am counting down the days until the Queen Victoria miniseries premieres this Sunday on PBS. Although not produced for children, this is a great time to look at our Queen Victoria books for children and teens, as well as books about the Victorian era (or written during the Victorian era).
Want a quick introduction to the life of Queen Victoria? The ever-popular Who Was/Is’s Who Was Queen Victoria? should educate and entertain those who want the highlights of her life story.
At Her Majesty’s Request: An African Princess in Victorian England is the incredible biography of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African princess and one of Queen Victoria’s adopted goddaughters.
Although the fashions and customs of the Victorian era are fascinating and charming, life during the Victorian era was harsh and unyielding for many, especially poor children. Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London is an eye-opening and compelling look at how these children lived, and how Charles Dickens brought their plight to widespread attention and reform.
Victorians were enchanted with fairy stories and fairy art; when most people picture fairies, Victorian images are often the ones that come to mind (if you see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the fairies will look quite different if the production keeps the Elizabethan setting). A Child’s Book of Faeries is a collection of fairy stories by Victorian authors.
Victoria Rebels is for the YA crowd; written in diary form (Victoria was a prolific diarist), this is an entertaining retelling of her early queendom and marriage to Prince Albert.
The Victorian era (1837-1901) was rich in books that are still read and loved today. Queen Victoria was an avid reader; although some of her favorite authors have faded from history, she was a fan of Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte, and of course, Charles Dickens. In addition to authors such as William Thackeray, Thomas Hardy, and Mark Twain (his piece about Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee can be found in A Tramp Abroad), the Victorian era also launched the careers of many classic children’s authors:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) was one of Queen Victoria’s favorite novels; its word play made it popular with readers of all ages.
Black Beauty (1877) has been called “the most influential anti-cruelty novel of all time” and was instrumental in the fight for anti-animal cruelty legislation in both England and the United States.
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885) inspired a very popular style of dress for boys (Buster Brown suit) and was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s first children’s novel; like many novels during this time (including Dickens’s work), it was serialized in newspapers. A Little Princess was also published during this era.
Little Women (1868-69) was an immediate critical and popular success in both the US and UK; it was published in two parts.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) was recently named “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairy tale” by the Library of Congress. Although it was a critical success when it was first published, snobbery over fantasy as a literary genre (unlike the movie, the novel is pure fantasy) and other elements in the story led to it either being ignored or under censorship challenges in later years.
Want more comprehensive books on Queen Victoria? Check out our biographies for adults.
Looking for more program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers? Make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library