Welcome to Old Children's Books, selling children's literature and picture books online since 1994. We stock more than 10,000 scarce, collectible and out-of-print books, for readers, teachers and collectors.
A Beginning Children's Book Reference Library for under $25.00 +Shipping (from a very quick search of the least expensive copies on 3/11) Keep in mind that price guides, which aren't very helpful anyway, will be out of date. You'll use these references to see what's available and how to identify it.
Basic Reference: Rosemary Jones and Diane McClure Jones A Collector's Guide to Children's Books, 1850 to 1975, Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3.; c. 175 pp. ea A remarkably good value, with beautiful colour photo reproductions and useful lists by author, illustrator, publisher, series, and more. About $12 for all three. Link to their newer Encyclopedia of Collectible Children's Books
$1.50 Addition for series collectors: The Jones': Boys' and Girls' Book Series: Real World Adventures, Identification and Values. $1.50, and perhaps later John Axe's separate volumes for about $12 and up.
$1.00 Addition for Little Golden, Elf, Wonder, etc collectors: For the least expensive Steve Santi you can find: use Author: Steve Santi, Title: Golden. About $1. Link to his most recent Little Golden Books: Identification and Price Guide.
$14.00 - $16.00 Addition for collectors of 19th c and turn of the century books: Unfortunately, there are no inexpensive illustrated references that I know of except When We Were Young by William Feaver which has lovely pictures but brief text; about $1 in paperback. Use a combination of Baumgarten's Children's&Illustrated Books 1880-1960 and the internet; about $6. John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors; about $6 on abe, not amazon. For early in the period: A. S. W. Rosenbach Early American Children's Books (Dover paperback $1). Also for later in the period, use Zempel Identification of First Editions; about $3.
$20.00 Addition for collectors of 20th c children's literature and picture books: Barbara Bader American Picturebooks From Noah's Ark to the Beast Within; about $8. Twentieth-Century Children's Writers (1978); about $3, if you are collecting more modern writers, a later edition would be about $6. John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors; about $6. Zempel Identification of First Editions; about $3, and you'll eventually want a more up to date edition. If you purchase these, you probably don't need all of the Collector's Guides.
Buying note: You can probably do better on these prices: look for multiple purchases from one vendor to save shipping. Since edition can be important, and Abebooks.com generally has more complete data, be sure to check there. Ebay might work since the bibliographies are so boring looking and since you won't care about condition flaws. A nice theory, but I have to admit, it hasn't worked very well so far.
References we use for publication data and grading.
Zempel, Edward N. and Verkler, Linda A. First Editions: A Guide to Identifications.
Spoon River Press, Third Edition, 1995 and Fourth Edition 2001
Printings of editions are identified by publishers' statements. Especially in the case of picture books, these statements may not be accurate; we have been conservative. Please email with any additional questions.
John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors
AB (Antiquarian Bookman) Grading see Search Hints.
Some reference books on Children's Literature.
We have quite an extensive reference library of individual author bibliographies and biographies, but the following books are close at hand as we enter books in the computer:
Ahearn, Patricia and Allen. Collected Books, The Guide to Values, 2002
American Picturebooks From Noah's Ark to the Beast Within.
Baumgarten, E. Lee Children's&Illustrated Books 1880-1960
(used for publication data rather than price)
Carpenter, Humphrey and Mari Prichard. Oxford Dictionary of Children's Literature.
Children's Book Council. Awards and Prizes.
Egoff, Sheila. The Republic of Childhood (Canadian).
Gilderdale, Betty. A Sea Change: 175 Years of New Zealand Fiction
Gumuchian (Publishers) Les Livres de l'Enfance.
Hurlimann, Bettina. Three Centuries of Children's Books in Europe.
Kirkpatrick, D. L., and third edition Tracy Chevalier Twentieth Century Children's Writers (1288 pp).
McBride, Bill A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions and Points of Issue Very useful, inexpensive small travel guides with the important information in condensed form.
Mahoney, Bertha. Illustrators of Children's Books.
Meigs, Cornelia /Eaton/ Nesbitt/ Viguers. A Critical History of Children's Literature.
Prentice, Jeffrey. Dromkeen A Journey into Children's Literature. (Australian)
Rosenbach, A. S. W. Early American Children's Books.
St. John, Judith. The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books 1566 - 1920.
Sutherland/Arbuthnot. Children and Books, frequent editions, I like the 4th edition for collectible books.
Schlug, Albert, ed. Die Bilderwelt im Kinderbuch.
Back issues of the Horn Book.
Also bibliographies on various authors and illustrators.
Also auction records.
See also Parent Resources on the Building a Child's Home Library and our Booklinks to Research collections and online Children's Literature Sites.
Recommended, Specialized, New Reference Books
Dean's Rag Books and Rag Dolls by Peter and Dawn Cope