Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes
Cotton’s catechism consisted of fifteen pages of 64 questions and answers relating to teachings of Puritanism and the Church. It discussed morals, manners, religious life, the ten commandments, and the last judgment. In the seventeenth century, many English catechisms had over 100 questions and answers for the student of Christianity to remember. The 64 questions and answers in Cotton's catechism made reference to 203 passages from the Old and New Testaments. The children of the seventeenth and eighteenth century were taught Puritan morality with catechisms like Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes so they would learn not to anger God-- otherwise they could be severely punished, even to the point of death.
Cotton's catechism was originally printed in London in 1646. The full title in Great Britain was Milk for Babes. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Chiefly, for the Spiritually Nourishment of Boston Babes in Either England: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children. It was printed in London, England, by J. Coe for bookseller Henry Overton. The short title in Great Britain of the prior original work of 1646 is Milk for Babes.
The New England full version was called Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England. Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments for Their Souls Nourishment but May Be of Like Use to Any Children. By John Cotton, B.D. late Teacher to the Church of Boston in New England. Cambridge. Printed by S. G. for Hezekiah Usher at Boston in New England, 1656. Samuel Green of Cambridge, Massachusetts, printed it in 1656 for bookseller Hezekiah Usher.  It was an octavo booklet. A copy of this book was supposedly purchased by the Lenox Library of Massachusetts for $400 in 1895. Cotton’s catechism remained in print in both England and New England for some 200 years after the mid seventeenth century. Eight known editions have been identified from the seventeenth century alone.
Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes became part of the The New England Primer in the middle of the eighteenth century and remained popular into the mid nineteenth century. Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes was called "The Catechism of New England".
- Paul Royster (2013). "Milk for Babes. Drawn Out of the Breasts of Both Testaments. Chiefly, for the Spiritual Nourishment of Boston Babes in Either England: But May Be of Like Use for Any Children - Abstract". DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Libraries of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Davidson & McTigue 1988, p. 140 "This was the first children's book printed in North America."
- Hunt 2013, p. 860 "first book especially prepared for North American youth".
- Kane, Joseph (1997). Famous First Facts, A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History (5th ed.). H.W. Wilson Company. p. 65, item 1729. ISBN 0-8242-0930-3. "The first children's book was John Cotton's catechism Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, Chiefly for the Spiritual Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England: But may be of like use for any children"
- Silvey 1995, p. 19 "the first book printed for children in the New World was Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes.".
- Hawes & Hiner 1985, p. 190 "Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes, the first children's book written and published in America".
- Library of Congress 1982, p. 26 "A book that the Library lacks, John Cotton's Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes (1656), is the classic example of the moral children's book. In this small question-and-answer manual, the first children's book printed in America".
- Spurgeon 2012, p. 148 "first children's book written by an American".
- Barbara Kiefer, Ohio State University-Columbus (2010). "Charlotte Huck's Children's Literature". Online Learning center. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Retrieved October 11, 2013. "John Cotton's catechism, Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England, Drawn from the Breasts of Both Testaments for Their Souls' Nourishment, was originally published in England in 1646, and revised for American children in 1656, the first book written and printed for children in the American colonies."
- Murray 1998, pp. 5–7.
- Bunge 2001, p. 304.
- Ford 1917, p. 30.
- Tebbel 1972, p. 48.
- Thomas 1874, p. 312.
- Littlefield 1904, p. 107.
- Littlefield 1900, p. 75.
- Rice 1917, p. 73.
- Hubbell, p. 17.
- Bunge, Marcia JoAnn (2001). The Child in Christian Thought. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4693-8.
- Ford, Worthington Chauncey (1917). The Boston Book Market, 1679-1700. The Club of odd volumes.
- Hawes, Joseph M.; Hiner, N. Ray (14 November 1985). American childhood: a research guide and historical handbook. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-23337-1.
- Hubbell, Jay Broadus. American Literature. Ardent Media. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Hunt, Peter (April 15, 2013). International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-87994-6. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Library of Congress (1982). Library of Congress Acquisitions: Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The Library of Congress. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Littlefield, George Emery (1900). Early Boston booksellers 1642-1711. The Club of odd volumes.
- Littlefield, George Emery (1904). Early schools and school-books of New England. The Club of Odd Volumes.
- Murray, Gail Schmunk (12 November 1998). American children's literature and the construction of childhood. Twayne Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8057-4107-0.
- Davidson, Marshall B.; McTigue, Bernard (1988). Treasures of the New York Public Library. H.N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-1354-7.
- Rice, Edwin Wilbur (1917). The Sunday-school Movement, 1780-1917, and the American Sunday-school Union, 1817-1917. American Sunday-school union.
- Silvey, Anita (1995). Children's Books and Their Creators. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-395-65380-7.
- Spurgeon, Charles (2012). From the Library of Charles Spurgeon: Selections From Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey. Baker Books. ISBN 978-1-4412-7011-5.
- Tebbel, John William (1972). A History of Book Publishing in the United States: The creation of an industry, 1630-1865. R. R. Bowker Company. ISBN 978-0-8352-0489-7.
- Thomas, Isaiah (1874). The History of Printing in America: With a Biography of Printers, and an Account of Newspapers. To which is Prefixed a Concise View of the Discovery and Progress of the Art in Other Parts of the World. In Two Volumes. From the Press of Isaiah Thomas, jun. Isaac Sturtevant, Printer.
- Full text electronic edition at University of Nebraska–Lincoln's DigitalCommons
- Full text scans at the New York Public Library