Steele: Treasures for the young folk

“Big Little Books” are great keepsakes and collectibles, and can be worth a little bit of money, too.

When deciding what I was going to write my Trash & Treasures article on, it dawned on me that we need to do a “young folk” article this week. I became a great-grandma again on Wednesday — this is my first great-granddaughter, so this old great-grandma is flying high, I must say. I have three handsome great-grandsons and now I have a great-granddaughter as well! They range in age from newborn to 10. She was born Wednesday, the day that I’m writing this.

Naturally, I had to find a subject area that would fall under the category of children. I have not written much on children’s items, so here it goes today.

The smaller versions of storybooks for our younger folk are called “Big Little Books” — the ones in my photo today measures 3¾-inches by 5-inches, which is the reason they are called “Big Little Books.” These all have hard covers and backs, not a soft cover. The condition is slightly worn on “Popeye” and the other two are gently used with a bit of defacing on the covers. Book pages are all excellent which is very important — and nothing is written or scribbled on the first pages of each book.

I am concentrating on the “Popeye” book today because it is a first edition — which usually means it will warrant a higher value. It is copyrighted 1967 by Paul S. Newman, by Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. The complete title of this cutie is “Popeye, Ghost Ship to Treasure Island.” The value of these books runs from a few dollars in poor condition to maybe $35 when in mint condition. This one is worn around the edges of the covers so would be considered to be “good” condition. It is so important to not have handwriting on the first pages. But, sometimes if it happens to be a greeting from a family member and presented to a youngster as a gift, those are allowed in most cases.

These Big Little Books are fun to find — but the market for these are a bit down at the moment. Everything has its ups and downs as far as collecting and selling — you need to be patient, or what I tell people, it is a very good time to buy these little cuties because the market is soft right now for books. It being a “first edition” item makes a very big difference. You just need to find a buyer or collector who is wanting this specific book — it may be one on their “hard-to-find” list and they might be very excited to make an offer.

I am sure most of you who are reading my article today may remember times when you once read these little guys — or not. But, most of us as children thought they were fun and awesome to own as they are easy to store — they don’t take up much room on a book shelf because of their smaller size, and many of these books have movies or cartoons made from them also. Popeye was one of my special or favorite characters when I was younger and, naturally, we remember dear “Olive” as well — she was such an admirer of Popeye.

Small treasures such as these little books are good reminders of days gone by — a great collectible item, not a true antique yet, but definitely a sweet collectible. Just a reminder, anything over 100 years old is usually called an “antique” and others are called “sweet collectibles.” I believe we still see “newer” versions of Big Little books on today’s markets as well. So, if you pick one up and write a small salutation to whom you are gifting it to, someday it will be treasured as a sweet collectible, and books are always those gifts that just keep on giving — whenever you read the story, it becomes a favorite that day. Then read it again 10 years later, or many years later to a granddaughter or grandson, it comes alive all over again.

A good book before bedtime is always a good thing for everyone — no matter the age — as we say, this is a gift that fits all ages. And our grandchildren and great grandchildren can put their phone games and messages on hold for a few moments before bedtime to get relaxed and a bit sleepy.

Books are great for all ages and are a learning tool as well as an informative tool and could be worth a few bucks if taken care of properly. Don’t bend the covers back, do not write on the pages and definitely be careful with the sheets or pages that have pictures on them. And have your children place the books back on the bookshelf to keep it in prime condition. Being respectful of a book should be taught early on. It is helpful when they start school later and visit libraries. Or, maybe when you might be invited to a friend’s house who has a private library of their own — what a thrill that is. I always loved to read — in fact, when my brother and I would help my mom with the chores like gather eggs, clean chickens, clean out the brooder house, feed our other pets, dogs, cats and horses, she would give us 10 cents to buy a comic book while she was grocery shopping. Many times we would sit in the backseat of the car and have our comics read — several times — before we even got home. It would make her so mad, but she knew we loved to read. And, rereading comic books a few days later is just about as much fun as the first time — well, maybe not quite, but you get the idea.

Books, books and more books — a favorite subject or favorite character, like Popeye, for instance, keeps a youngster quiet and happy for a little while. And, they can practice reading — so you could accomplish many things when you buy a 10-cent comic.

Books always make great gifts and are collectibles. You have to start somewhere when you are beginning to build your library of favorite books. We may have room for just a shelf or two of our favorite books, or you may have an entire room or library full of books — whichever it is — take time out for a few moments each day to read a few pages of your recent purchase. Or visit your library — you never run out of books to read at your hometown library.

Please treasure each book. Treat it with kindness. Take good care of it and return it to your book shelf. Please do not write in your book, and maybe someday you will discover you have a first edition in mint condition worth a few bucks or millions. With the internet today, we can find out details on just about anything — especially book finds. Take a peek — you may be surprised when you pick up that book you were just reading and discover the copyright first edition status of it. Enjoy reading, everyone.

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