Odham's Encyclopedia for Children

At the weekend I rediscovered one of my favourite books lurking in the attic.  It was a present from Santa Claus in 1958 and has rather a boring cover.

The writers of "Odham's Encyclopaedia for Children"  are not credited but its three advisory editors included  the Professor of Comparative Education at the University of London Institute of Education and the former Headmaster of Harrow School.  The book is described as, "an Aladdin's cave stuffed not with jewels but with facts, more marvellous than jewels but no less precious."

Filled with pictures and diagrams it really was a delight in the black and white world of the late 1950s.  These are the chapter headings:-

1.      Our World and Its Peoples
2.      Our Mind and Bodies
3.      Man the Discoverer
4.      Power and Energy
5.      Our Story Through the Ages
6.      How We Live Today
7.      Getting What We Need
8.      How We Enjoy Ourselves

Colourful maps display the world as it was seen from Britain at that time 

Note the industries of Britain shown above:- coal, steel and ships!

Diagrams show how things work

How our mind and body works.  This shows good and bad memories.

And the vehicles of the time have been drawn.

But the most beautiful illustrations were painted by John Rignall (1916- 2004) who also designed brightly coloured nature posters for schools and illustrated books about birds.

Little did I realise that my brand new encyclopaedia would be a source for social history 50 years later.


  1. Lovely. It reminds me of a magazine my dad bought me every week. I can't remember the name - something like Learning about Everything (not right, I'm sure). It had sections on science, literature, art, history and Greek myths. I loved the illustrations which accompanied the articles and it was from those magazines I got my love of Greek and Roman mythology.

  2. I expect you mean Look and Learn. I used to have that too. I loved reading Tales of the Greek Myths and the Tale of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green.

  3. A real nostalgia trip. It's amazing how much the world has changed - wonder what the next 50 odd years will bring?!

    1. I'm not sure I could cope with cars that drive themselves.

  4. Wow! I was 8 when this came out...fascinating! I do remember atlases with a lot of red bits which were bits we owned.....

  5. Oh, this is amazing! Published the year before I was born - sometimes I can't get over how much the world has changed in my lifetime. Carol, I remember those too - and my dad telling me, with sadness in his voice, that those pink bits were no longer so.

    I also remember maths texts books with weights in bushels, pecks etc, and being told that we didn't use them anymore. The fact that we still had the books with them in, though...!

  6. I was given the book when I was about 11. It was passed on to my brother. The book just came back to me some 50 odd years later. It's rough around the edges, but wonderful to see again.
    Page 30 - looking down onto a landscape with all its nature features had used to mesmerize me ... I had never been in a plane at that point, but also have loved landscape ever since. Fabulous book.

  7. Yes the illustrations were captivating, especially as we only had black & white TV.