Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books

About Us

Childrens Picturebook Price Guide My objective is to expand the children's picturebook collecting hobby. Why? I enjoy collecting first edition picturebooks - they are little pieces of history disguised as incredible pieces of art - and it's a lot of fun discovering something new about a book which many thousands or millions of people have read.

The price guide is one means of helping to expand the hobby, by providing:

  • Visibility to first edition values
  • Bibliographic material covering over 700 illustrators.
  • An overview & introduction to the hobby.
  • How to identify first editions.
  • How to grade books.

See below for information related to my book collecting background.

I started collecting first edition childrens books in 1991, when I came upon the Books of Wonder store while strolling around New York City one sunny afternoon. Books of Wonder sells both new and collectible children's books. While perusing through the new books, I became enamored with the quality of illustration and story in a number of contemporary children's picturebooks. The store holds frequent author and illustrator book signings; after hours in the store, I walked out with over thirty autographed new books. That initial batch of books included titles from Steven Kellogg, Michael Hague, William Joyce, Leo & Diane Dillon, David Wiesner, K.Y. Craft, and Jerry Pinkney. I had caught the book collecting bug.

Mercer Mayer Ah Choo In the early 1990's, I went from bookstore to bookstore purchasing books by illustrators that I enjoyed. I was oblivious to the larger book collecting hobby, had no idea of books values, was ignorant of the Caldecott Medal, and continued to collect only what I liked. I became obsessed with documenting the books published by each illustrators. In those pre-internet days, I began by writing down the books from the 'Other Books By" page, which could be found in many of the books I bought. As my collection grew, so did the list of illustrator titles.

I started recording my purchases and titles in an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet became a checklist of my collection and also of books I desired. In 1994, I 'discovered' the Caldecott award, both Medal and Honor books, and started collecting not only the award book, but all books by an award winning illustrator. my collection expanded considerably. The 'Other Books By' pages continued to expand my list of 'wants'.

I began collecting picturebooks several years before I had children. I married relatively late in life, and thought collecting children's books would be one means of staying young at heart, and better to connect to my children with. Once I had children, I shared the books, respectfully, with the three of them, and read a book a night with one or more of my children for over a decade.

Up until 1996, all of my books were purchased in brick-and-mortar bookstores, by perusing the shelves of new and used bookstores to find books which were lacking from my collection. At that time the collection numbered over 1,000 books. With the advent of the internet, I began buying books from the Advanced Book Exchange ( It was during this time that I came to realize that first edition children's books had some value in the collector market. When eBay started, I was an early adopter.

Even with the internet, I much preferred buying my books from bookstores' shelves. It's exciting to stumble upon a book for which you've been searching. My work required extensive travel, so visited bookstores all over the country. I would also go on book hunting vacation with the kids. In the mid- and late 1990's, I made book vacation trips to Portland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Cincinnati, New York, Dallas, Denver, and a number of other cities. Two days in Disneyland and one day in bookstores. The Book Hunters regional guides to bookstores was an invaluable resource.

my collection now numbers over 5,000 first edition children's picturebooks. I continue to collect, and my first passion remains collecting books from illustrators I enjoy. I also continue to buy newly published books garnered from perusing the picturebook section of bookstores. I purchase the new books of my mainstays, and also the new books of newly published illustrators. I am always on the lookout for new talented illustrators to add to the collection.

Song Of The SwallowsMy book collection focuses on Caldecott Medal and Honor books and their illustrators, Seuss books, along with other contemporary illustrators I enjoy, such as Steven Kellogg, Michael Hague, Leslie Tryon, and Lynn Munsinger. I also love the books from the early 1930's, the years in which the picturebook form was solidifying. I have all of the Caldecott Medal books, most of the Caldecott Honor books, and multitudes of books from award winning illustrators. I have never sold a children's picturebook

Close to 1,000 books were purchased from ABAA members (or from booksellers who choose to leave the ABAA). A prominent number of books were purchased from Marc and Helen Younger (Aleph-Bet), Jo Ann Reisler, Maggie Page (Page Book), Peter Glassman (Books of Wonder), Bruce Howard (Bookbid) Jeryl Metz, and Elaine Woodford. In all of those purchases from ABAA members, I have not had a single regretful transaction. While many books were purchased while at a book fair, many were purchased sight unseen from the bookseller's catalog, or online via ABE--every book has been properly represented.

I have also been very satisfied with book purchases from members of other bookseller associations. These include the Internet Online Bookseller's Association, TomFolio, and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. There are many reputable children's booksellers in business today; see my Links page for a partial list of those I would recommend.

I research my purchases, and when in doubt, validate first edition points from another reputable source prior to purchasing the book. I retain the mailing catalogs and pamphlets from each of the booksellers to use as reference material. I have a complete collection of the Horn Book Magazine from 1936 through 1970, which is a fantastic reference, especially for original book prices.

David Christiana Poppys Puppets

My obsessions - Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books, Platt & Munk's "Never Grow Old" series, info related to the picturebook history (original artwork from books, magazine appearances, early merchandising, etc...), and finding undocumented points-of-issue. As an example, I have 38 copies of the first three printings of The Cat In The Hat. Documented the Seuss original stories in Redbook Magazine from the 1950's (the first time this has been collectively documented). Little Engine That CouldI have 20 copies of the Lois Lenski version of The Little Engine That Could, part of Platt & Munk's "Never Grow Old" series; documented 14 printings published with DJ from 1930-1952, up until the lawsuit with Grosset & Dunlap. I have nearly 200 copies of the first fifty Beginner Books in DJ, to assist in documenting first edition points. Discovered three printings of Millions of Cats with the Jersey City imprint, which I first documented. Etc...

Other obsessions - Books by David Christiana, Steven Kellogg, Fred Gwynne, Elizabeth Miles, David Wiesner, Loren Long, Janet Stevens, David Catrow, David Shannon, Kay Chorao, Louis Slobodkin, Mary Grandpre, Robin Preiss Glasser and a variety of other relatively underappreciated illustrators (at least from a collecting perspective).

© Stan Zielinski
A serious collector having fun with fun books.


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