The ABCs of RBSC

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition: From Apple Pies to Astronauts: A Chronology of Alphabet Books with Aphorisms, Amusements, and Anecdotes!

The exhibition, curated by UBC Master of Library and Information Studies candidates Sarah Bagshaw and Laura Quintana, under the supervision of Professor Kathie Shoemaker, offers a selection of English language alphabet books from the late 18th century to the present day. These books illustrate the changes in alphabetic education for young children in England, the United States, and Canada. The authors and illustrators who created these books were influenced by the political and social contexts of their worlds. As both printing and publishing changed and advanced, so too did the alphabet books being produced.

The exhibition, featuring materials from RBSC’s historical children’s literature collections, including the Arkley Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature and the B. Roslyn Robertson Collection of Children’s Literature, contains many familiar favourites still enjoyed by children today. As well, there are many that may be unknown treasures that are sure to delight.

From Apple Pies to Astronauts is on display at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre from February 27 through April 30, 2017, and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m. A complete catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or

We hope to see you there and that you will enjoy learning about alphabet books and those that created them!