Thursday, April 4, 2013

Favorite Children's Books to Thrift

After a brief hiatus to prepare for and celebrate Easter, I'm back! Today, I'm delighted to share with you a very special recent find. As I've stated many times before, I absolutely adore vintage children's literature. While my appreciation of newer titles is growing thanks to my young children, I rarely read new books that grab me as much as those that I read and loved as a child. Luckily, vintage children's books are easy to score at thrift stores, tag sales, and library book sales. In fact, in my opinion, they remain one of the biggest bargains you can find on the secondhand circuit.

Of course, in this day and age, you need not scour thrift store shelves for vintage books; you can always hit the online booksellers to find just about any out of print book you desire. The downside of this is that it can cost a pretty penny. And although I admit that on occasion I have purchased a special vintage book online, I prefer to add to my collection by hunting through shelves and boxes of books at thrift shops and library sales. I also like to poke around in used book stores and that is just how I found my latest treasure, when last week on a whim I stepped into a used bookshop with a friend.

The book is Twig, by Elizabeth Orton Jones and it is one of the most enchanting books I have ever read! I am sure that I checked it out from my local library over a dozen times when I was a young girl. I won't give away too much, but it is the tale of a lonely little girl who meets a tiny fairy in her backyard. The illustrations are just as magical as the text--just look at that face on the cover! The book was out of print for years, but I am happy to say that it has recently been reprinted as a paperback, so if you are not able to find it on the secondhand market, you can always order it here.

Now, I would never claim to be an expert on children's literature but I do think I have a few worthwhile suggestions for you if you want to start thrifting children's books for your own kids, or add to a collection that you already own. Following are some of my favorite children's books that, unlike the beloved Twig, I run across on a frequent basis at thrifts. Some of these titles are out of print and ridiculously expensive online, some you can often find in beautiful hard-cover editions that are truly worth collecting, and some are dime-a-dozen paperbacks, but all are wonderful additions to a family's home library.

All of a Kind Family series. I cannot begin to tell you how much this book and its sequels meant to me as a child! This series of five books I read and re-read constantly, and my almost 8-year old daughter is now doing the same. I am relishing the chance to enjoy them yet again and giggling with my little girl over the adventures of Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
I found this unusual large print, library edition at a thrift store, but the softcover edition is very common at thrifts and book sales. This is a wonderful classic historic tale that both boys and girls will enjoy.

Eight Cousins (and really anything by Louisa May Alcott)
As my daughter was named after the main character in this book, I collect this title, and have found some truly lovely editions at book sales and thrift stores. As much as I enjoyed Little Women, I loved this book and its sequel Rose in Bloom even more.

Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (search for hardback editions, they are not that rare and it's so much nicer to have these classics in hardcovers!)

The Katie John series by Mary Calhoun. I loved these books as a child, and while they were kind of dated when I read them in the late 1970s, they are still delightful stories with timeless themes that young girls will appreciate.

The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, the same author of the Pippi Longstocking series. These are simply delightful stories of children growing up in the Swedish countryside, and I can almost guarantee that both young and old will love them! There are a few other books about Noisy Village that are equally delightful, but not as common. Another absolute favorite of mine by the same author is Lotta on Troublemaker Street.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. I think every thrift store in America has at least one copy of this book on its shelves! It always makes me sad, wondering if the person who donated it appreciated what a wonderful book it is. It is similar to the Little House books in that it is based on the life and memories of a real pioneer girl (the author's grandmother). Also similar to the Little House books, the main character is a spunky young girl who will win your heart.

As I sift through the huge pile of my favorites sitting on my desk, I can see I will need to do a follow-up post on this topic. Let me know if you find these suggestions helpful, or if there is a particular genre that you are most interested in.

Happy Reading!

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