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Why investing in children’s books could be better than gold

Nadia Krige 2nd Mar 2023 One Comment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

So, you’ve taken Marie Kondo’s advice and started decluttering your home in the hopes of doing the same for other areas of your life. Perhaps you’ve come across some cherished children’s books in the process, thanked them for their service and gently placed them on the ‘donate’ pile.

Before delivering them to your charity of choice, however, you might do well to sift through them one last time. According to a recent report by HomeProtect, certain first edition children’s books are so sought-after they’re bringing heaps of cash for their owners. A hidden gold mine indeed!

“This is the area of collecting most likely to be overlooked, when clearing out a store room,” remarks antiques expert, David Harper. “A children’s book worth hundreds or thousands of pounds, may have an old price ticket inside the cover of just a couple of pounds. It could be that it’s a bit thumbed and looks valueless, so it’s likely to be thrown away or given to a local charity, only later to be discovered by an eagle-eyed collector.”

Here’s a quick guide to making money from your old children’s books and maybe even starting a little investment business on the side.


Condition is king

Before we spill the beans on which titles you should be looking out for, let’s talk a few practicalities.

If you have one of the most sought-after children’s books of the past century on your shelf, but it’s falling apart, sadly it probably has no value beyond your own sentiments.

In order to make money from classic children’s books, they need to be in almost pristine condition and preferably still have their original dust jacket.

“It’s worth noting that the condition and completeness of the book is paramount, as any damage or missing pages can decrease value significantly,” reads the report on HomeProtect’s website.

Harper suggests before deciding whether a children’s book goes on the ‘donate’ or ‘sell for loads of cash’ pile, you need to go through a methodical inspection. Turn to the inside cover and look for the edition as well as the date. After this, do a quick Google search to see whether the book is in demand on sites such as eBay.


Which Children’s Book titles to look out for?

If, however, you happen to have a well-preserved first edition of any of the following titles, you can skip that last step and go straight to selling:

  • The Gruffalo (1999)
  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit (1922)
  • The Giving Tree (1964)
  • Histoire de Babar (1931)
  • The Polar Express (1985)
  • The Little Engine that Could (1930)
  • The Cat in the Hat (1957)
  • The Tiger who Came to Tea (1968)


How much you can make

According to HomeProtect, first edition copies of classic children’s books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Velveteen Rabbit can fetch between £5,000 and £10,000 at auction.

The first edition of The Gruffalo saw an incredible 200% increase in value between 2004 and 2016 – that’s significantly more than the value increase of gold and property over the same period.

A quick search on Barnaby’s reveals that first edition Winnie the Pooh can fetch close to £4,000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire can sell for as much as £2,000 and James and the Giant Peach can bring in close to £3,000!


Where to sell your valuable children’s books?

If you need to make a quick buck of the books, your best bet will probably be to list them on eBay. Before doing this, it’s important that you place the appropriate value on them. A quick and easy way of doing this, is conducting a search on AbeBooks.com. Just note that it’s important to find copies that match the book in your possession as accurately as possible. Search carefully and avoid spelling mistakes.

If, however, you think you might have some really special books in your possession and want to get the best possible price for them, it might be best to approach an auction house, such as ValueMyStuff or Chiswick.


*This is not financial or investment advice. Remember to do your own research and speak to a professional advisor before parting with any money.

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5 years ago

Brilliant idea, and I wish I’d kept some books from my childhood.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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