Most Valuable First Edition Children's Books

Childrens Picturebook Price Guide There are forty-four picturebooks in the Price Guide which have an estimated market value of $1,000 or more for a first edition copy. The list is a virtual "Who's Who?" of American picturebooks, topped by Where The Wild Things Are. Most of the books are staples within the picturebook industry - the list includes such classics as Make Way For Ducklings, The Story Of Ferdinand, Millions Of Cats, Madeline, Curious George, Harold And The Purple Crayon, Eloise, and Babar.

Fifteen of the books are by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss! Virginia Lee Burton has two books in the top ten, Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel and The Little House.

Nine of the books are Caldecott Medal books, while seven of the books are Caldecott Honor books. The Polar Express (1985), by Chris Van Allsburg, is the most recently published book with an estimated market value over $1,000.


Probably the most difficult book to find in collectible first edition condition would be Robert McCloskey's, Make Way For Ducklings. In all our years of collecting, we have seen only a couple come to market. Harold And The Purple Crayon is nearly as difficult to find, as are the three Smith and Haas published Babar books.

First Edition Books The Cat In The Hat The early Seuss books are also difficult to find in collectible, first edition state. The first edition Dr. Seuss books published after 1954, starting with On Beyond Zebra, can be found in collectible condition with a modest amount of effort. The exception to this, to a certain extent, is the first edition ("200/200") of Seuss's milestone book, The Cat In The Hat, and to a large extent, is the first state (stickered) of Green Eggs and Ham - the first state of Green Eggs does not surface too often. As for the other books in the list, we have found that most of them come to market several times per year.

Why Are These Books Valuable?

First Edition Books Madeline For this list and the lists that follow ["lists that follow" refers to lists in the Children's Picturebook Price Guide of the twenty most valuable picturebooks from each decade, covering the 1930's up the 1990's.], note the key factors that impact the collectibility of the books.

Each is a high quality story with imaginative or inventive illustrations, therefore the reading public has recurrently purchased the books for decades. Because of this, the books have stayed in print since their original publication and gone into many, many printings.

Many of the books have earned a children's picturebook award, while many of the illustrators have won numerous awards. All of the illustrators have high esteem within the book publishing market place.

Many of the book's characters became franchise characters, where one or more sequels were published, and line extensions have been made into other consumer product areas (i.e. toys, games, dolls, costumes, decorations, etc...). Lastly, many of the books or characters have crossed over into pop culture, either via a TV or feature film adaptation.

First Edition Books, with Dust Jackets!

First Edition Millions Of Cats The estimated values in the table are for first edition books with dust jackets. The Children's Picturebook Price Guide includes first edition identification points for twenty-nine of the books in the list.

Click on the book's title to see first edition identification points for a particular book. The link is to the blog post on Collecting Children's Books, where we are posting first edition points for key children's books at the rate of 2 or 3 per week. In most cases, we are posting photographs of the book's first edition identification points.

To see an indexed list of all the first edition identification points from the Blog, go to First Edition Identification Points.

Most Valuable First Edition Children's Picturebooks


Most Valuable Picturebooks
Year Book Title Illustrator VG- VG VG+ Fine
1963 Where The Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak $6,200 $8,200 $10,200
1937 And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street Theodor Geisel $5,000 $6,800 $8,400
1940 Horton Hatches The Egg Theodor Geisel $4,400 $6,000 $7,400
1941 Make Way For Ducklings Robert McCloskey $4,400 $6,000 $7,400
1938 The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins Theodor Geisel $3,800 $5,000 $6,200
1939 The King's Stilts Theodor Geisel $3,200 $4,200 $5,200
1936 The Story Of Ferdinand Robert Lawson $3,000 $4,000 $5,000
1942 The Little House Virginia Lee Burton $3,000 $4,000 $5,000
1960 Green Eggs And Ham Theodor Geisel $2,800 $3,800 $4,800
1939 Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel Virginia Lee Burton $2,600 $3,400 $4,200
1928 Millions Of Cats Wanda Gag $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1939 Madeline Ludwig Bemelmans $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1957 The Cat In The Hat Theodor Geisel $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1933 The Story Of Babar Jean de Brunhoff $2,200 $3,000 $3,800
1941 Curious George H.A. Rey $2,200 $3,000 $3,800
1938 Pumpkin Moonshine Tasha Tudor $2,000 $2,800 $3,400
1947 McElligot's Pool Theodor Geisel $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1948 Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose Theodor Geisel $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1955 Harold And The Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1955 Eloise Hilary Knight $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1934 The Travels Of Babar Jean de Brunhoff $1,600 $2,000 $2,600
1935 Babar The King Jean de Brunhoff $1,600 $2,000 $2,600
1947 Curious George Takes A Job H.A. Rey $1,400 $2,000 $2,400
1949 Bartholomew And The Oobleck Theodor Geisel $1,400 $1,800 $2,200
1954 Horton Hears A Who Theodor Geisel $1,200 $1,600 $2,000
1957 How The Grinch Stole Christmas Theodor Geisel $1,200 $1,600 $2,000
1937 Animals Of The Bible Dorothy P. Lathrop $960 $1,200 $1,600
1938 Mei Li Thomas Handforth $960 $1,200 $1,600
1939 Abraham Lincoln Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire $960 $1,200 $1,600
1939 Alexander The Gander Tasha Tudor $960 $1,200 $1,600
1950 If I Ran The Zoo Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1953 Scrambled Eggs Super Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1968 Foot Book Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1933 The ABC Bunny Wanda Gag $840 $1,200 $1,400
1948 Blueberries For Sal Robert McCloskey $840 $1,200 $1,400
1955 On Beyond Zebra Theodor Geisel $840 $1,200 $1,400
1956 If I Ran The Circus Theodor Geisel $840 $1,200 $1,400
1985 Polar Express Chris Van Allsburg $700 $1,000 $1,400
1939 Little Toot Hardie Gramatky $720 $960 $1,200
1942 Cecily G. And The 9 Monkeys H.A. Rey $720 $960 $1,200
1953 Journey Cake, Ho! Robert McCloskey $720 $960 $1,200
1953 A Very Special House Maurice Sendak $720 $960 $1,200
1952 The Biggest Bear Lynd Ward $600 $800 $1,000
1981 Jumanji Chris Van Allsburg $500 $ 760 $1,000


Average Value of Books by Decade

First Edition Books By Decade

The table (right) lists the number of books in the price guide from each decade, and the average estimated market price for first edition books.

Not surprisingly, in general, a first edition book’s value increases with age. The anomoly in the 1950s is due to the influence of the Dr. Seuss books on the sample set.

Even though we consider Wanda Gag’s 1928 publication of Millions of Cats as the beginning of the contemporary children’s picturebook industry, the price guide does include works published prior to 1928 from notable picturebook illustrators.

These books were not picturebooks per se, more like chapter books with some accompanying pictures, however included illustrations from notables such as Johnny Gruelle, Maud & Miska Petersham, and Dorothy Lathrop.


Most Valuable First Edition Books By Decade

From the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, lists of the twenty most valuable books published in each decade:

For some selected completed eBay auctions for children's picturebooks, covering the period from 1999 to 2006, then go to:

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


© Stan Zielinski. Author of the Children's Picturebook Price Guide Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

In layman's terms, that means you may excerpt, share, and use this material as long as you credit Stan as the author and provide a link back to the specific content page. And do not sell it or use it for commercial purposes.

The information offered on and the blog is offered free of charge. Any uses, references, and or copies of this website in whole or in part must include the bibliographic citation, including author attribution, article title, date (in the case of blog posts) and link to the URL Include the copyright notice.

In no event shall a Creative Commons Attribution License or Stan Zielinski be liable for any damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use of the articles on this website. This website is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Descriptions of, or references to, persons, websites, or businesses does not imply endorsement of that person, website or business.