The ladybird gallery

No. of Objects: Variable

An image of the wall display of Ladybird books.

Revel in a special collection

This is the world’s first and only permanent exhibition space dedicated to the art of the iconic Ladybird Books. The gallery showcases an archive of over 20,000 illustrations held by the University.

Millions of children have learnt about the world around them through these remarkable little books. Can you find your favourite on the wall of books?

The ‘Ladybird in Focus’ case features a different theme every few months. The current display focuses on the portrayal of Women in Ladybird books. Find out more here.

The Ladybird Gallery has been generously funded by Ladybird Books Ltd, part of the Penguin Random House group of companies.

From this gallery you can also see Our Country Lives from a new perspective!

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To see more artwork from the Ladybird Books Archive, visit our major new exhibition this Spring:

Ladybird Books: ‘How it Works’

30 March to 17 August, 2019

An exhibition celebrating the history of the nation’s favourite children’s books.

Hosted at Reading Museum as part of Museums Partnership Reading, a new cultural initiative funded by Arts Council England, this exhibition presents material from the extensive Ladybird Books Archive housed at the University of Reading.

Find out more on the Reading Museum website

Related events:

The MERL Seminars: Looking at Ladybird Books

Starts 5th April.

A series of free seminars by University of Reading experts exploring Ladybird Books

Ladybird Books Family Fun Day

9th April at The MERL and Reading Museum

The MERL Google Streetview Tour


Watch a film relating to the temporary display

The theme of the display in the case changes regularly and a new film for you to watch is included each time

Spot your favourite Ladybird book

Everyone loves the Ladybird 'wall of books' Can you find your favourite in our collection?

Put yourself on a front cover!

Put your head through the hole and put yourself on the front cover of this iconic Ladybird Book. But who's Beauty and who will be The Beast?!

Did you know families used to pick hops on holiday?

Hop picking holidays allowed city families to earn money. Pickers were paid with tokens, which were used in local shops or exchanged for wages.

Did you know

...Elizabethan mattresses were used for both childbirth and corpses?

Mattresses, plaited from sedges, were made to support a mother during childbirth or a corpse after death. After use it would have been burned.

Did you know used to sow seeds by fiddle?

Sowing by hand can be slow and inaccurate. Seed drills were developed in the 1800s to sow seeds quickly in a straight line at regular intervals.

Did you know

...Lady Eve Balfour (1898-1990) was one of the earliest organic farmers and co-founded the Soil Association?

Women continue to play a key role in this movement, with organic farms employing significantly more women than chemical farming.

Did you know

...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?

The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.

Did you know

...villages often used to run their own fire services?

The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.

Did you know