Friday, January 18, 2013

Thrifting for Kids Books

I was a bookworm of a child. I spent many a happy hour reading, and am delighted that all three of my children seem to love the printed word as much as I do. So naturally, when I am out and about in pursuit of vintage, I always have books on the radar.

Books are a great thing to thrift, especially children's books. Nearly every thrift, flea market, rummage sale, or tag sale has stacks of them available, and I can almost always find something that I can add to our home library for a quarter or two. Libraries are another excellent source of secondhand books. Some libraries have dedicated used bookshops that raise money for the organization; others have regular sales of books. I was surprised to learn that these library book sales often include beautiful vintage books, at very reasonable prices.

Over the years, I have collected hundreds of children's books, both vintage and newer titles.  I particularly love looking for beautiful editions of the classic children's literature that I adored so much as a child. These are wonderful books to give as gifts to the very special children in your life, especially if you add a little note telling them how you enjoyed the same book as a child. And yes, I realize that not every child would appreciate an old, used book for a present, but I consider myself very fortunate that I know many who would. Or at least they are very good at pretending!

Here are a few of the sweet, classic books that I have found recently:

You just can't go wrong with Winnie-the-Pooh! But modern day children may not know that A.A. Milne wrote hundreds of witty little poems and stories besides the ever popular Pooh tales. These two volumes were in nearly pristine condition, with all the charming original illustrations. I still remember my mother teaching me the words to the  poem "The End" when I was six years old:
When I was One, I had just begun.
When I was Two, I was nearly new.
When I was Three, I was hardly Me.
When I was Four, I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever. 
This 1940 edition of Mother Goose, with illustrations by the well-known American illustrator Pelagie Doane is simply stunning!

 The condition of the outside of the book is not perfect, and one page is torn, but look at these enchanting illustrations:

One of my absolute favorite book series from my childhood is the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. The books detail the adventures of a poor Jewish family of five daughters in early 20th century New York City. While I am not Jewish and grew up in the Midwest, I do have three sisters and no brothers, so I really connected to these wonderful stories. I can't count the number of times I read and re-read these books! I loved them so much that one of my children is named for one of the characters. And now my oldest daughter is old enough to enjoy them. I was thrilled to find this hardback of the first installment in the series:

My other daughter received her name from another favorite book character--Rose Campbell from Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins. I found this beautiful edition of the book at a library sale and gave it to my daughter for her last birthday. She treasures it!

And here is one that may not be considered a "classic," but it made a huge impression on me as a child and I highly recommend picking it up if you ever come across it at a sale. It has an empowering and inspiring message for young kids, if they can look past the scary Snortsnoot.

These are just a few favorites from my collection. If you frequent thrifts but usually bypass the book section for fear of finding only old, smelly, uninteresting books, I urge you to take a look. You just might find a few gems. Happy reading!

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