I sort of unofficially collect children's books.
I can't help it, it's usually the first section that I go to in bookstores. I use it to judge how sensitive and informed the book buyers are...I am enthralled by the attention to detail given to the stories, the covers, the illustrations. I want to collect more books for 'lil readers (or, I guess non-readers) and book buying is one of the only areas in my life where I don't really feel guilty about how much I spend, I don't try and rationalise it or make excuses. I need them like I need air. Quite often they are the only books that move me to tears for reasons I can't even define.
My mum said to me a while ago "Your children are going to be so lucky, having all these wonderful books to look at and read"...which surprised me because, to be honest, I had never once bought a book thinking of who was going to inherit it!
I suppose I wish I had a collection like this when I was little (though I was pretty chuffed with my impressive range of Little Golden Books and any and every Enid Blyton tale I could get my paws on). I still have my childhood books and the sudden jolt of memory when you look at an illustration, or a sentence that you have looked at dozens upon dozens of times as small child is exhilarating. Or, realising that the images or even certain passages and descriptions in the stories really have rooted themselves into your imagination, your dream landscape and your idealism many years later. It's powerful stuff!
I still bemoan not being able to find my teeny tiny Peter Rabbit books...big enough to fit in my little hand, bigger than a matchbox....just.
I remember chancing upon The Selfish Giant as a first year uni student and almost burst into tears when I realised it was the exact same edition I had read so many times when I was 7 or 8, then sighed at how beautiful the watercolour illustrations were, chuckled at how I completely bypassed the whole Jesus-parable....then gasped when I saw that the author was Oscar Wilde! Such a joy rediscovering these books when you are older.
I saw a link somewhere recently and I'm so glad I clicked through to it; have I ever told you how much I adore Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events? (more on that later), but here...Lemony's 'representative' Daniel Handler gives us some of his favourite childrens books.
Suffice to say I sort of want them all. Greedy guts that I am.