Children's Books

ClareBroommaker's picture

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about collecting books for children.

This autumn I got into this because my son and his spouse are expecting their first child. Of course, I buy second-hand. I was making myself pause in my collecting, stepping aside for other book buyers until after Christmas, because I figured the good second-hand children's books in good shape make good presents.

Today, however, I let myself spend $20 for 16 books that I will keep at my house until child is reading on his own. I bought Newberry winners and Newberry Honor books. Up until today I had bought mostly books for the very young-- picture books.

Do any of you with kids live near a Goodwill? Check out their books. The GWs around here have been having 75% off certain color tags on Fridays and Saturdays. One day I was able to get kids' books for $0.12 because of that. They brought out a cart of brand new Scholastic publisher books while I was there.

The employees at a St Vincent de Paul store, thanked me profusely for buying so many $0.25 kids' books. I kind of thought they found the books a nuisance. (?) When that store first opened, the guy who was in charge of books was himself real charged up and told me he wanted to start an in-store book club for neighbor kids.

When my own son was a child, the cheapest I could ever find childrens' used books was $0.30, and they were often rather worn, sometimes quite dirty or even missing a cover. I actually find it sad that I am now finding books at a lower price (quite a bit lower considering inflation), many in like-new condition, suggesting that the books are donated without even having been read. That is commensurate with kids reading even less these days than they did 30 years ago. I've gotten books that were originally given to kids free through Dolly Parton's charity and through a local program which sends cops into schools to read one-on-one with kids. Sadly, those books had pristine edges and un-cracked spines, too.

Anyway, it seems to be a good time to collect children's books, if you want or need to do it for relatively little cash.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I'm still hoping for others' green wizardly thoughts on books for children. One thing I notice is that I have been turning away from books that look so cheerfully and optimistically upon cars, trucks, planes, and rockets. There are a ton of those published for little kids.

Even for the very young, though, there are plenty of books on plants, animals, gardens, forests, oceans, lakes, rivers, deserts, beaches, etc. I like that, especially if one connects the books with the child's own life and surroundings. By the way, "picture books" usually have high quality paper, I guess because of the need to apply color inks. They will surely last longer than most of the books for older kids.

I'm liking fiction that emphasizes competence, meeting challenges, creativity, adaptability, honor, bravery, cooperation, planning, thinking things though, making do.

I've bought a copy of H.A. Rey's

    The Stars, A New Way to See Them

, a book about identifying the constellations. Yes, it is the same H.A. Rey who wrote and illustrated the Curious George books. It took an artist's eye to see and re-draw the connect-the-dot(star) pictures the way the ancients must have seen them and, hence, named them. I first bought this book when I was 13; I second bought it when we were raising a child; and now I've found one to pass on to my grandchild. Perhaps this the third generation will being seeing the stars more often than the previous two.

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alice's picture

I have recently come across the 'Little grey rabbit' childrens' books by Alison Uttley. She grew up after being born in 1844 what was then a very backwards farmhouse in Derbyshire, England. The illustrations don't grab me as such but what I love are the background details like rush lamps being made by dipping rushes in tallow and just some of the details of pre-electric country life that she weaves into her stories. Her memoir 'A country child' is a beautiful read too.

ClareBroommaker's picture

A recycling (paper, plastic, glass, metals, cardboard) business in a distant suburb here is offering books at five dollars per paper grocery bag. I'm guessing these books have been pulled out of the recycling stream. All kinds of books, including children's are offered.

Perhaps such businesses in your area offer the same.

Picture Books
Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg - a little rhyme about baby's day set in 1940s London. A lot of endearing period details.
Old Macdonald Had Some Flats - Old Macdonald lives in a flat and attempts to start an urban farm..
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
The Smallest Turtle by Lynley Dodd - a baby turtle hatches and makes its way to the sea
The Maggie B. by Irene Haas - Margaret takes her little brother on a magical journey on the boat the Maggie B. They do chores, cook dinner, play in the boat garden and fall asleep to the sound of a storm outside
Anything by English author Shirley Hughes. Her child characters are true to life and her illustrations of the joyful chaos of family life are very endearing
101 Things to do with a Baby by Jan Ormerod - a walk through baby's day at home with his family.
The Lorax - Dr Seuss
The Gift Angel by Airdrie Thomson - an alphabet of angels doing homely things like having picnics and fishing
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams - a meditation on the true nature of friendship

Little House on the Prairie series
Narnia Chronicles
Wind in the Willows
Anything by Rosemary Sutcliffe - historical novels British/Roman/Viking
Green Knowe series by Lucy M Boston - An old haunted English manor and the children who have adventures within its walls and gardens and get to know its ghosts and spirits
The Good Master and the Singing Tree by Kate Seredy - a city cousin comes to live on the family farm on the Hungarian plains in the early 20th century.
The White Stag by Kate Seredy - Hungarian folk tales
Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White - in the 1940s Maria discovers a population of tiny people in the garden.
The Sword in the Stone by TH White - a retelling of the Arthurian legend. Arthur (the Wart) is a young boy whose new tutor, Merlyn is somewhat surprising as tutors go..
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - 1960s, Meg, with her friend Calvin and little brother Charles Wallace travel through time and space to rescue her father.
Stig of the Dump by Clive King - 1960s, England. Barney discovers a neolithic caveman living at the dump. After several adventures Barney finds himself travelling back to Stig's time where his tribe are erecting standing stones for a dawn ceremony.
The Little White Horse and Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge - set in the 19th and early 20th centuries these two separate novels feature old English magical customs plus children, animals and adventures.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean George - Inuit Julie is lost in Alaska, and relearns how to live in the wild with her wolf companion.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean George - a boy runs away from home to live off the land in the Catskill Mountains.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Thank you for these ideas, Blueday Jo. Some of them are ones that I have recently acquired. It is an extended meditation as I am on the lookout for good books for the little ones, stirring me with happiness and gratefulness for the many delicious hours I spent reading with my own child. I think of writing thank you notes to the authors of some of these excellent books that meant so much to us and will mean so much to the next people to pick them up.

Clare, I don't know who enjoyed our read aloud sessions more - me or the children! It was certainly one of the highlights of parenting small children in my case. The above is a list of the books I pulled from my own bookcase that I thought fit the criteria of Green Wizard books - magic plus philosophy plus the natural world, or in some cases the natural world, or living with LESS. I found that reading with the children opened so many new worlds and avenues for discussion that everyday living may not have provided. My 15yo daughter and I still take turns reading out loud to each other in the evenings:)

ClareBroommaker's picture

But, even without being believed, magic can begin to change things. It moves invisibly through the air, dissolving the usual ways of seeing, allowing new ways to creep in secretly, quietly, like a cat sliding through bushes. Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle

Uncle Bright Star clumped a pair of boots onto the table. "Actually, you're to wear these only when the rain comes, so don't waste the leather in the dry times." Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

That second book is set in the San Francisco Bay area and, not surprisingly, mentions fog several times. It made me think about about fog in my own childhood. I had the strange experience of no longer remembering if I used to sometimes walk to school in the morning in a peculiar fog that settled to the ground only about ten to fourteen inches deep so that when one walked, the fog swirled and made low waves OR if I only am remembering that kind of fog not as a lived experience, but as something I read in a novel. If in a novel, I'm pretty sure it would have been in Fog Magic by Julia Sauer. (I hope to get that book for my grandchild, too.) I'll have to ask my siblings.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Still acquiring children's books in dribs and drabs. I wanted to share this from the dedication of "Our Eddie" by Sulasmith Ish-Kishor, 1969.

The children of the poor and troubled
rarely do come to full growth; like
forced fruit, they blossom too early and
wither before they ripen.
Of these,
For these,
To these,
Whatever their age, country, color, or creed,
This story,
By one of these.

Well! I felt pain in my eyes and repressed tears. That hit something in my psyche. I finished peeling stickers off the book, cleaned the adhesive off, looked at the sun-faded cloth cover wondering whether to make an opaque dust jacket, and set the book in my own "to read" pile.