With their rakish characters, sensationalist plots, improbable adventures and objectionable language (like swell and golly), dime novels in their heyday were widely considered a threat to the morals of impressionable youth. Roundly criticized by church leaders and educators of the time, these short, quick-moving, pocket-sized publications were also, inevitably, wildly popular with readers of all ages. This work looks at the evolution of the dime novel and at the authors, publishers, illustrators, and subject matter of the genre. Also discussed are related types of children's literature, such as story papers, chapbooks, broadsides, serial books, pulp magazines, comic books and today's paperback books. The author shows how these works reveal much about early American life and thought and how they reflect cultural nationalism through their ideological teachings in personal morality and ethics, humanitarian reform and political thought. Overall, this book is a thoughtful consideration of the dime novel's contribution to the genre of children's literature. Eight appendices provide a wealth of information, offering an annotated bibliography of dime novels and listing series books, story paper periodicals, characters, authors and their pseudonyms, and more. A reference section, index and illustrations are all included.