Whether it is a beloved illustrated classic that takes us back to our own formative years, or a modern young adult title that reminds us of a child in our current life, children’s books hold a unique and special place in our hearts. Our collection of fine and rare Children’s Literature features beautifully illustrated stories like Ludwig Bemelmen’s Madeline, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Here we have composed a list of ten our favorite children’s classics.

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1. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.

This first edition 1942 copy is one of the rarest and most sought after children’s classic. Burton’s The Little House won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1943. “Burton chose subjects that would intrigue children [including] Mary Ann, the steam shovel [Burton’s books] have heroes and heroines children can understand and enjoy, ingenious and satisfactory endings and lively illustrations.” (Silvey, 109-10)

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942. First edition. Oblong quarto, original blue cloth. Light rubbing to the spine tips, a near fine copy in an excellent unrestored dust jacket that shows a small chip to the crown of the spine and some light wear. Small ink inscription opposite the title page. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.

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2. Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein.

A rare first edition of the author’s first collection of children’s poetry. “The poems, ranging from serious to silly, from philosophical to ridiculous, allow the reader or listener— the rhyme and rhythm of these nonsensical poems make them perfect for reading aloud— to discover Silverstein’s greatest gift: his ability to understand the fears and wishes and silliness of children” (Silvey, 602)

New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Small quarto, original brown cloth. Stated first edition on the copyright page. Signed by Shel Silverstein on the half title page. Fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket with some light toning and wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare, especially signed.

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3. Snoopy and the Red Baron by Charles M. Shulz.

This first edition 1966 copy of Snoopy and the Red Baron is signed by Shulz on the front free endpaper. Schulz’s beloved cartoons have won him the National Cartoonists Society’s Humor Comic Strip Award in 1962, the Reuben Award for 1955 and 1964, the Society’s Elzie Segar Award in 1980, and the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966. First edition. Octavo, original illustrated cloth. Signed by Charles Schulz on the front free endpaper. Light rubbing to the bottom cloth, near fine in a near fine dust jacket with light shelfwear. Exceptionally rare signed.

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4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

This rare first edition of the beloved children’s book is signed by Eric Carle who also drew a caterpillar on the title page. “Eric Carle was one of the first illustrators intrigued with the idea of introducing natural science concepts to young children. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has remained in print for [over] 25 years, attesting to its popularity” (Silvey, 120).

Cleveland: World Publishing, 1969. First edition with the number line 1-10 on the copyright page. Oblong quarto, original illustrated boards. Signed by Eric Carle, who has drawn a caterpillar on the title page. Also laid in is a note from the author attesting to the book’s value. Light wear to the bottom boards, near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. First editions are extremely rare.

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5. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

Signed by Bemelmans on the front free endpaper, this is a very rare 1939 first edition of Madeline. “The original inspiration for Madeline was the convent where Bemelmans’ mother was educated as a child, along with the author’s own experience in boarding school, where he walked with his classmates in two straight lines” (Silvey, 55).

New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939. First edition with the 1939 date on the title page and with 12 girls instead of 11 in the “They went home and broke their bread” illustration. Thin Folio, original illustrated boards. Signed by Ludwig Bemelmans on the front free endpaper. An excellent example in a very good dust jacket. A very sharp example of this children’s classic, rare signed.

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6. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl; Illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert.

This is an exceptionally rare signed copy of Dahl’s first book, inscribed in the year of publication. “James and the Giant Peach, the first of these to reach print, is a comic fantasy about a small boy who travels the world inside a huge peach, in company with several giant insects.” (Carpenter & Prichard)

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961. “For Virginia Jane and Alexander Charles with lots of good wishes and heaps of love from Roald Dahl November 1961.” Additionally signed by the illustrator Nancy Ekholm Burkert on the half title page. Fine in the original dust jacket that shows wear to the foot of the spine and a few small closed tears. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An exceptional copy, rare signed and inscribed in the year of publication.

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7. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson; Lewis Carroll.

A rare pair of first editions of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass in the original cloth covers.

London: MacMillan and Co. 1866 &, 1872. First editions. Octavo, two volumes. Bound in early 20th-century full red morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Gilt vignettes to front and rear panels of each volume, gilt tooling on spine. All edges gilt, silk endpapers. Original cloth covers and spine bound in at rear. In fine condition. A very attractive pair.

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8. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond; Illustrated by Peggy Fortnum.

A 1958 first edition that is inscribed by Michael bond on the half title page. “Paddington’s appeal came not only from the hilarious situations and mishaps in which he found himself… but also from Peggy Fortnum’s pen-and-ink sketches …” (Silvey, 70-71)

London: Collins, 1958. First edition. Octavo, original red cloth. Inscribed by Michael Bond on the half title page. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket with light rubbing to the front panel and a few small closed tears. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. A nice example of a book that is usually found well worn.

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9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

The Giving Tree, originally published in 1964, has since sold over ten million copies and has become one of the classic works of the last half century. This is a first edition signed by Shel Silverstein who has drawn a large picture of the Giving Tree next to his signature.

New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1964. First edition with all the first issue points to both the book and dust jacket. Octavo, original boards. Signed by Shel Silverstein, who has drawn a large picture of The Giving Tree. Lightest of rubbing to the bottom boards, fine in a very good dust jacket with a few chips and closed tears. The dust jacket is priced at $2.50, the full torso picture of Shel Silverstein, with hair, covering top left half of back of the dust jacket, three reviews of Lafcadio, by the New York Times, Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly. One of the rarest modern children’s book, exceptionally scarce in this condition and signed with a drawing by Silverstein; a unique example. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.

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10. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

This rare first edition of The Tiny Seed is signed by Eric Carle on the title page. As he demonstrated with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other books, Carle has an extraordinary kinship with nature. Here we have not just the explanation of the life of a flower, but drama, lessons of life and a lovely spirituality.

New York: Thomas J. Crowell, 1970. First edition. Quarto, original cloth. Signed by Eric Carle on the title page. Small name on the front free endpaper, in the rare original dust jacket with a few small closed tears and a few chips to the spine and rear panel. Rare.

Browse all of our rare and first edition children’s books.