Collecting Children’s Books

Burningham, John. Seasons. First edition, title page.Collecting children’s books

Collecting children’s books can be an enchanting and fascinating pastime.

We recommend that every now and then all adults should sit down with a children’s picture book. They will immerse themselves in a magical world full of beautiful images – an experience that will transport the reader away from adult cares and back into the experience of childhood.

Many people have a special memory of a book from their childhood and often search to find that book again. Others collect children’s picture books because they enjoy dipping into those colourful magical worlds.

Slightly battered but much loved

The Matchlock GunMost children’s books are easily discarded and thus the few older books that do survive can become very rare. Those lost books may have been trodden on and crumpled in cluttered bedrooms, had breakfast cereals spattered on them by enchanted young readers, or maybe those books were accidentally torn in a scrabble for possession between siblings.

Some books survive in pristine condition with their dust jackets intact, but most surviving children’s books are slightly scuffed and a little battered. In the world of collectable books this is often the ‘look’ of a much loved book, and as long as the book is not too damaged or spoiled it can still hold its charm.

Discovering that gem

Dylan Thomas, The Outing, Paul CoxAs a subject for collecting, illustrated children’s books can often be found at low cost. If you discover some unknown and forgotten book, you may have found a wonderful and rare gem. Store it safely and you will save it for future generations to admire. These finds can be books by superb illustrators and book designers, with great stories by inventive writers.

Books by some of the early illustrators such as Kate Greenaway or Edmund Dulac have become very valuable, but there are always those illustrators and writers that have been forgotten and neglected that can form an interesting collection.

Those writers, artists, illustrators and designers

Angela Barrett, Beauty and the BeastSince the 1960s, when colour printing began to really improve, there has been a wonderful period of production where artists, illustrators, designers and writers experimented and developed the illustrated book into a fine art. Illustrators such as Charles Keeping, Errol le Cain, Jan Pienkowski and Raymond Briggs are just some of the artists that worked during this period.

Walk into any good bookshop today and look through the quality of children’s books on view and you will see what a rich subject children’s books have become for a collector.

Shown below is a spread from Beauty and the Beast illustrated by Angela Barrett. A wonderful illustrator working today.

Angela Barrett, Beauty and the Beast