Building a children’s home library

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Real paper books have been on my mind this last week. With the news that Borders is finally and officially going out of business, I’ve lost two of the nearest book stores in my area. The next closest is a Barnes and Noble tucked inside the mall. I really worry that the days of being able to lounge around inside a bookstore are quickly coming to an end.

Maybe that sounds like an odd worry to you but Handyman Tim and I fondly recall many datesĀ from early on in our relationship spent inside bookstores. Digital readers are fancy and convenient but nothing can mimic the ability to browse shelf after shelf of paper copies of books.

When Gabrielle at Design Mom posted her top 50 favorite picture books for children in honor of her 5th anniversary the other day, I became even more concerned about books. It’s one thing to lose paper copies of the NYT Bestseller lists, but what grandmother wants to pull their dear grandchild onto their lap and snuggle up with a Kindle?

Tim thinks it is unlikely that children’s books will go officially digital. I’m not so very sure.

I’ve taken a closer look at Design Mom’s list. I’ve been hunting around online for even more ideas. I’m trying to compile a short list of children’s books that I think would be crucial to have in paper version for my girls. I’d love to start building this little library over the course of coming holidays and birthdays and just because days.

Because I love children’s books, I already have just a handful to start. I’ve collected these over the last 10 years and received some as gifts. Each one is a beautiful hardcover edition with as classic a cover art and illustrations as possible:

– A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
– Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
– The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
– The first four books from Beatrix Potter’s collection including The Tales of Peter Rabbit
– Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
– And of course, all 7 Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

I’m also super lucky to have such wonderful book club friends. Last year they gave me a perfect library starter basket with their own favorite childhood picks in honor of Little Pea’s arrival. You can see the full list here.

As I compile my list, what would you add to yours? In my opinion, there are some books that are perfect coming from the public library. They don’t all need to be part of our home collection. Which ones would make your final cut? If you could only have 3 paper children’s books, which ones would they be?

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  1. Tricia says

    Love this Tiffany!! On my list The Giving Tree (shel silverstein), The Little House series, and The Polar Express.

  2. says

    Oh yes! Excellent suggestions, Tricia! I’m realizing I have a few more than I originally thought–they just weren’t all in the same spot. We do have The Polar Express as well as Where the Sidewalk Ends. The Giving Tree makes me cry every time!

  3. Renee says

    What makes me cry is the thought of having to chose only three :-) Brent has an embarrassingly full book shelf. It’s an illness I have, but one I can easily rationalize :-)

  4. Jennifer Young says

    Oh my, that gift basket is lovely. How creative! Most of the top-rated children’s books were not hits for my little guy. I don’t love the writing styles of Where the Wild Things Are and Good Night Moon. We do like almost all Dr. Suess books we’ve read: Cat in the Hat, ABCs, Green Eggs and Ham, etc. Rainbow Fish, Brown Bear, Pat the Bunny, Time for Bed were good for the little little stage. As we graduated to older books, he liked Llama Llama Mad at Mama, The Fire Cat, Mice at Bat, Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, Shrinking Sam. I really wish I had kept track of the library books we enjoyed. There are many others I can’t think of off the top of my head. When I was a girl, one of my favorite books was From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Also, my mother had original copies of The Happy Hollisters series. They are terrific books.

  5. Jennifer Young says

    Oops, I didn’t realize your little one is not a baby anymore, and you have an older one too. Looking forward… I would also suggest Harriet the Spy, everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, How to Eat Fried Worms, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown. This is fun! You have me wanting to run over to my mom’s house and look through the shelves in the attic:)

  6. Brie says

    I realize that I’m coming a bit late to the party, but I must recommend No Flying in the House (about a girl who discovers that she is half fairy) and the Judy Bolton mysteries (kinda like Nancy Drew, similarly old school, but I liked these better when I was younger.)

  7. jessica says

    definitely Ramona books, they are great! And I have discovered a gem of a series about Betsy-Tacy. Little House are favorites here also.

  8. says

    Since it’s for a girl, also get the Olivia, Madeline and Eloise books. And an old fashioned favorite, 5 little peppers and how they grew.

  9. says

    Agree with almost all the above, especially little house! Also don’t forget the LM Montgomery series, Anne of Green Gables! A must! That being said, had I known this idea before I had my own baby shower I would of requested it myself. But, since I am holding now a baby shower for my SIL, I am going to request it for her. A friend of mine’s said that at a baby shower she went to they requested every one bring their favorite book, and sign the inside cover with their well wishes, and signature, instead of bringing a card, that most people bring with their gifts. Being that cards and books can be almost the same price-especially if you can hit a good sale on amazon, or even at B&N, or Goodwill etc etc, sounds awesome to me. Plus how often will you look at those “cards” again, the books you will look at often and use time and again. So I love it! Plus so green! No paper waste, as books aren’t a waste, but cards often get thrown away, or just have to be stored some where taking up space!

  10. Heather says

    I don’t know if I missed it, but what did you have framed? A quote? I love this idea. My husband and I only give our niece and newphews books for presents to build their libary.

  11. Ivy M says

    What does the frame say? I love this idea. I always give books to my nieces and nephews at every holiday. The kids love it and their parents love that they aren’t getting toys!


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