The Orbis Defined

In The Children’s Literature Oxford Encyclopedia, the Orbis Pictus is defined as:

“A picture book illustrating Latin and vernacular vocabulary by COMENIUS printed in Germany in 1658, published in England in a translation by Charles Hoole in 1659 and usually credited for being the first picture book designed exclusively for children. Hoole’s translation was entitled A World of Things Obvious to the Senses. The book was for the use of children learning to read English and then, at the age of six or seven, Latin.

After an illustrated alphabet which is expressed in terms of animal or other noises each picture shows a group of numbered objects in their context, ranging from the solar system to a tailor’s shop. Then come the names of objects with descriptions. The introduction recommends that the book be freely given to children, even at home before they are put to school, ‘to delight withal as they please, with the sight of the pictures.’

            Hoole’s translation of the Orbis Pictus was often reprinted up to the 19th century. The first American edition was produced in 1810 by T. & J. Swords of New York, with illustrations by Alexander Anderson.”

Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Prichard. The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1984. 388. Print.

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