Eight Recent Children’s & YA Books Collectors Should Grab
The other day I had lunch with a lovely collector of children’s books. Children’s book collectors have always struck me as a the last great unknowable group of people with an active interest in children’s literature out there. Where educators or librarians or even scholars have blogs and annual meetings and newsletters, collectors remain mysterious and unknowable. There are just so many things I want to learn about them. What makes a children’s book valuable in some way? How do you determine which books are more worthy than others? And most importantly, what contemporary books are collectors looking at right now?
When I asked some of these questions to my lunch companion, the collector suggested that I write a blog post with my top guesses as to which books will be worth the most in the coming decades.
Now let me be clear. I have absolutely zip, zero, zilch idea of how this all works. I have this vague sense that there’s this unknowable individual out there who carries with them the secrets of the universe and that THEY actually know this stuff. There must be an art to it. You want things that will accrue in value, but accrue for a variety of different reasons. I know what is new. I know what is popular. And I know what could, based on what I know, be valuable. That doesn’t mean these books will be. Still, my nickname is “Bets” so . . .
Bearing in mind that uncut manuscripts are probably the best way to go anyway, here’s the gist of what I’m thinking should be on any good collector’s list.
- Signed galley of TWILIGHT
True story. Before Twilight was released, it was included in a Little, Brown librarian preview. This was before my time, so I’m getting this secondhand. Still, what I’ve been told is that Stephenie Meyer was the super secret guest at that preview. Remember, the book had not yet come out so no one knew who she was yet. She signed copies of the Twilight galleys at this event. Many of the librarians who received them gave them away to their TAG (Teen Advisory Group) readers. So somewhere out there are signed galleys of Twilight. Rare indeed.
- A galley of MOON OVER MANIFEST
Unexpected Newbery or Caldecott winners always make for excellent collecting fare. The rumor about this book is that when the ALA Youth Media Awards announcement was made that it had won the Newbery, Barnes & Noble had to recall all the copies they’d been preparing to pulp that very day. It was such an unexpected winner that I suspect you’d be able to find that its ARC is of particular note.
- A first edition DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. Galley preferred.
Most series aren’t super hits the minute they get on the market. For Jeff Kinney’s, it took about 2-3 books before the child reading public realized how great the titles really were. That means that there are undoubtedly signed galleys of the first book that could have potentially been lost to the sands of time. If you have one, hold onto it.
- An F&G of A FINE DESSERT
The usual folded and gathered picture book galley is ephemeral. It’s not meant to be held on to. I’ve seen them turned into birdhouses and buttons and all manner of interesting things. Now initially A FINE DESSERT had positive reviews, so it’s possible a lot of people held onto its F&G. I doubt it, though. Though some might have held onto it because they thought the book had Caldecott changes, I bet it was tossed more often than not.
Jason Reynolds is poised. Poised to break like the star he is, man. Smart, funny, and a helluva good writer. If you haven’t heard of him by now, brace yourself. Yet when he was first starting out, this was his debut. It was an unassuming little YA in 2009 and now it’s out-of-print. The fact that new, never read copies are starting at $65.40 online is significant. This book is a collectable, pure and simple.
- A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON signed by author or editor or illustrator
What is unclear to me at this time is whether or not there was ever an F&G (folded & gathered) version of the book for reviewers. I certainly didn’t receive one, and I usually get the bulk of the Scholastic titles. This leads me to think they trucked entirely in final copies. Even so, before the book was pulled from publication there’s a chance that copies might have been available at the ALA Conference in January. Any copy is going to be worth money but prices have dropped since the book was initially pulled, going for as low as $59.90 on Amazon. This leads me to suspect that while the book will be worth something in the future, signed copies will be worth a lot more.
Do not think for a moment that Birthday Cake is the sole picture book that has ever been pulled from publication. In 2008 Lerner pulled this Holocaust title. The reason? It had initially been sold as a true story. When the facts came out that it was a myth, Lerner acted accordingly. You can buy the book easily enough on Amazon (to the tune of $48) but considering its limited run and shaky history, I’d say it’s a good bet.
With the dawn of Salaam Reads at Simon & Schuster (their Muslim children’s book imprint) there’s a marked increase of interest in Muslim-American books for kids. One of the best is Rukhsana Khan’s. It was included in NYPL’s 100 Great Books for Kids list and is a truly lovely title. I’m thinking it may be one to watch, particularly first editions.
That’s all I’ve got, based on next to nothing at all. I’d love to hear what else you think has a chance at monetary value in the future. Always with the understanding that this is all just conjecture and speculation.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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