Collecting Children's Books

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If you are reading this article, the stash of worn books left over from your childhood has begun to grow again. The immediacy which returns as we read these old books and the pleasures of passing them on to a new generation are unique to children's book collecting. I recently reread Little Women in an old Roberts copy just like the one from which my grandmother read for hours at a time to my cousin Julia and me. The same edition and the same worn binding brought back long summer days of sixty years ago, the book's characters were incarnate, my sisters of childhood. While I find Meg more sympathetic and Jo more irritating than I once did, there is no question of my casting this family aside. Blood is thicker than water!

The field of children's book collecting, formerly centered around fine illustrated editions and first printings of children's classics, has broadened enormously in the last few years. Our focus at is on children's literature of the last hundred and fifty years or so, on books which children can still read and enjoy as a story. However, most of the observations below apply to all fields of children's book collecting. With the expansion of children's book collecting and the ease of using the net, prices of rare children's books have risen and those of easily available books have fallen. While a collection of children's books in nice condition and edition acquired at today's prices will hold its monetary value well, it is a questionable investment of capital. Your collection's greatest rewards will be intangible. Below you will find ideas for shaping your collection and guidelines for choosing individual volumes so that they will be valuable to you and perhaps to others.