Vintage Picture Books from Our Collection
Libraries weed through their collection every once in a while to make room for new books. They need to keep their collection current with a diverse selection of new books and they don’t have room to keep everything. So they find old, damaged, unpopular books, stamp them discarded or withdrawn, and sell them cheap to help raise money for the new stuff. If I had more bookcases I would probably be going to library sales all the time!
Older books have lots of charm even if they do have a rip or stain or an out-of-date reference here and there. They are like sitting down with your grandmother. They are from a simpler time yet completely thematically relevant. I love to study the illustrations too. The books I am sharing here are all from the 1960’s or earlier when full color printing was very expensive. The styles and techniques used back then are often imitated in books today to evoke a nostalgic or trendy feel. Books that have survived 50 years in the library are most certainly by noteworthy authors and illustrators and are like a lesson in picture book history. And if all that doesn’t convince you that old books are awesome how about the fact that the books you find in library sales are cheap and often out of print so they can be like finding treasure!
Clockwise from the top left…
- Margaret Wise Brown’s WONDERFUL STORY BOOK: 27 Stories and Poems illustrated by J.P. Miller has it all: poems and stories, nature and humor, kids and animals. It is a perfect bedtime book with both long and short pieces to choose from. Here is a marketplace link to a different edition with (I think) many of the same stories and poems.
- SANDPIPERS by Edith Thacher Hurd illustrated by Lucienne Bloch is a nonfiction book about the behavior and life-cycle of sandpipers. I love the graphic block-print like illustrations and the straightforward yet poetic text. And of course I love learning about local birds.
- CHANTICLEER AND THE FOX illustrated and adapted by Barbara Cooney is adapted from THE CANTERBURY TALES. Won’t my kids be ahead of the game in high school when they are assigned to read Chaucer! This folk tale story and medieval art inspired illustrations create a time travel experience and lesson about the dangers of pride.
- WHAT MAKES A SHADOW? written by Clyde Robert Bulla and illustrated by Adrienne Adams is a simple to understand nonfiction pick about how shadows are made. My one warning is if you read this at night your kids will want to get out of bed and experiment with shadows! I love the graphic, limited color-palette illustrations. I couldn’t find a marketplace link for this one.
- Next up is THE BUNDLE BOOK written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Helen Stone. This is a fast read perfect for the very young. I could completely relate to playing cuddly hide-and-seek games on lazy mornings in bed with my babies. I couldn’t find a market place link for this one either which is a shame.
- OVER AND OVER written by Charlotte Zolotow is also one that I related to. It is about a small child’s year in holidays and celebrations. The little girl keeps asking what comes next. My six year old still does that. Halloween is the next one I tell him. Also how can you not love Garth William’s careful, gentle vignettes.
- THE RESTLESS ROBIN written and illustrated by Marjorie Flack is for bird fans. It is a nonfiction book for learning about bird songs, migration, and identification, but it also has a engaging story with a big bad cat! No wonder my 1965 edition was the sixteenth printing!
- GRANDMOTHER AND I written by Helen E. Buckley and illustrated by Paul Galdone, I’m sure was popular with grandparents! According to this concept book about different kinds of laps, grandmother’s laps are the best kind. Not sure everyone has this kind of grandmother especially today, most grandmothers are still doing their thing but what is true is that all these types of laps exist in a child’s life including the helpful kind, the playful kind, the calming kind, etc.
- Last but not least is DOWN DOWN THE MOUNTAIN by Ellis Credle. I think it is important to read depression era books so our kids can put their wants and desires into perspective. The kids in this book simply want shoes! They end up growing turnips in order to raise the money for them. See what happens when they end up giving almost all of their turnips away!
Bonus book! I have one more that I love that I almost forgot about since it is a thin paperback (with yellowing pages) hidden in the bookshelf. JUST ME written and illustrated by Marie Hall Ets is about a boy who follows animals around imitating the way they move. I love that this book is written in the little boys voice and I love the very “colorful” one color illustrations. See what I mean?
Do you go to library sales? Do you have some prized books? Please share!