“The Horn Book League . . . , like the St. Nicholas League after which it was modeled and whose motto it bore, . . . was made up of artwork, poems, and essays sent in by boys and girls. The first column appeared in the March-April 1949 Horn Book under a headpiece designed by Hilda van Stockum, an author and illustrator of children’s books and one of Bertha’s most faithful correspondents.
“Since children were not readers of The Horn Book in great numbers, Bertha solicited the cooperation of adult subscribers in making the League known to them. Individual entries were encouraged rather than classroom projects. There was no dearth of material once the League became known, for the children, as in the earlier days of the magazine, were eager to see their work reproduced in its pages. The Leauge lasted for almost a quarter of a century and its contents offered eloquent evidence of what children found to wonder at and be interested in from 1949 to 1972.”
— Eulalie Steinmetz Ross in The Spirited Life: Bertha Mahony Miller and Children’s Books
In 1998, we received a thick envelope from Johanna Hurwitz regarding the League. Here are the contents of that envelope.
April 2, 1998
The March/April issue of The Horn Book requests the loan of any memorabilia that might be useful in celebrating the magazine’s 75th anniversary.
To this end, I am sending you my membership card from the Horn Book League, together with the rejection note for my contribution to the magazine. I believe it was my first rejection in a career that would hold many. (Are there any writers who have never received a rejection slip?)
Even though none of my early writings were published in The Horn Book, I was thrilled when the January/February 1951 issue came out and my name was listed among the new members of 1950. It was the first time I saw my name in print in a national publication.
That’s all a long time ago. Since then, I’ve seen my name in Horn Book many times. I’ve written a couple of short pieces for the magazine and of course, my books are reviewed in there regularly. But I suspect that even the most glowing of reviews, won’t ever bring me the same thrill as seeing my name in print the first time in your publication.
Description of the Horn Book League sent with membership card:
A department for children’s and young People’s own writing and drawing.
In November, 1899 — fifty years ago this year — the famous magazine for children and young people, St. Nicholas, announced its plans for St. Nicholas League. Many men and women, now well known as writers and illustrators, were members of St. Nicholas League as children, and contributed their work to its pages.
In its early years The Horn Book often gave space to contributions from young people. Now it sets up a new department for this purpose, to be called The Horn Book League, modeled upon St. Nicholas League, adopting the same motto, and even expressing some of its plans in the same words, since they could not be bettered.
What It Is
The Horn Book League is established to interest boys and girls who like to write and to draw. Its motto is ” Live to Learn and Learn to Live.” It stands for higher ideals of life and for intellectual and spiritual advancement. To learn more and more of the best that has been thought and done in the world; to get closer to the heart of Nature and to acquire a deeper sympathy with her various forms — these are its chief aims. The League is in favor of any pursuit or pastime that is a means to these ends.
Book study alone does not win the best results. Direct friendship with the woods and fields and healthful play and sports are necessary to the proper development of both mind and body.
The Horn Book League also stands for intelligent patriotism, and for the kind of internationalism that will lead some time to a world government. It stands for protection of the oppressed. He who enjoys life and liberty, knowing what they mean, cannot willingly see others deprived of them.
Horn Book readers up to and including seventeen years, whether subscribers or not, may become members upon submission of a poem, essay, story, letter or drawing. Upon receipt of some piece of creative work, a membership card in the form of an early horn-book will be sent each contributor regardless of whether or not his contribution is accepted for publication.
Horn Book League Rules
All contributions of whatever sort must be original, and must be endorsed as such by parent, teacher, librarian or guardian. Contributions not so endorsed will not be considered. Contributions must be written or drawn on one side of the paper only.
Drawings should be made upon white paper.
Poems must not exceed twenty-four lines in length; letters, articles and stories must not exceed 400 words.
Write and draw what you see and know and what gives you pleasure to express in words or pictures. Do it as simply and as well as you can. Keep on trying.
If an issue of The Horn Book appears without The Horn Book League pages, it means that no contribution has been received outstanding enough to warrant publication.
Rewards and Payments
For any contribution so outstanding as to be chosen for publication in the special department pages of The Horn Book League, The Horn Book will pay $5.
The Horn Book reserves the right to choose for publication in the Hunt Breakfast section of The Horn Book Magazine, without payment, occasional material which is not chosen for Horn Book League pages.
No unused contribution will be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed and stamped envelope.
The First Horn Book League Issue
The Horn Book League opened with the issue of March-April, 1949, and presented pages from a tiny book by eleven-year-old Brigid Marlin, of Montreal.
The Horn Book Magazine is published six times a year and is devoted to books and reading for children and young people. Subscription price, $3.00. Single copies, 60 cents. Write for descriptive leaflet.
THE HORN BOOK, INC.
248 Boylston Street
Boston 16, Mass