This week we’ve been doing some decorating at home and it’s made me think about why we hold onto our kids’ books whether they are classic children’s books or not. My two are teenagers now but we still have their favourite childhood books proudly displayed in the bookcase – which has temporarily been moved to Emile’s bedroom while we paint the hallway. They may have outgrown those books, but I’m definitely not in a rush to part with them.
When I look at those classic children’s books it instantly takes me back to when Emile and Adele were young. It evokes memories of the joy we had reading together and discovering new and fascinating stories. My husband Matthew has a particular fondness for Fungus and the Bogeyman. It was one of his favourite books as a child so he kept it – then enjoyed it all over again when he read it to our kids. He still remembers their reaction as they heard their dad use words like ‘snot’ and ‘slime’.
I also love how children’s books can become part of your family story. One of my favourite kids’ books is King Rollo and the New Shoes by David McKee, which is about a king who doesn’t know how to tie his shoelaces. As a kid, Emile had difficulty tying his shoelaces so the book had a special resonance – and to this day King Rollo and Emile’s shoelaces are a bit of a family joke.
Do you have vintage children’s books?
It’s not just parents who are sentimental about their kids’ books. Emile – now 17 – still has a copy of The Gruffalo that was signed by illustrator Axel Scheffler when he visited his primary school. Emile used to love reading the book and thought it was so cool when Alex signed it for him – so he keeps the book as a reminder of that special day.
You might not want to hold onto your famous children’s books just for the memories, though. Did you know that some children’s books are really valuable? I was amazed to discover that old children’s books like The Hobbitt, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Tale of Peter Rabbit and the Wind in the Willows could be worth thousands
Mind you, to command that kind of money the book has to be a first edition in mint condition. After years of wear and tear and my kids’ sticky fingers I somehow don’t think any of the books we own will qualify. But that’s OK, I’m happy to hold onto my kids’ books for purely sentimental reasons.
Once we’ve finished the decorating I’ll have a clear-out and give some of the old books to charity, but I’ll enjoy going through the bookcase and deciding which special ones will stay. King Rollo is definitely still a keeper.
Do you have any rare or vintage children’s books that you’re hanging on to?