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When I first got into thrifting to resell everyone else was intent on selling books on Amazon FBA. This meant that competition was fierce in the book section but there were tons of opportunities at the Goodwill Bins and the clothing sections of thrift stores.
Now, thanks to Instagram and TikTok influencers posting their clothing finds it’s swung the other way.
Clothing is overpriced and people are crawling over every rack, leaving only scraps for each other.
So what do we do? Go back to books of course!
One of my favorite books to find and sell are the classic Little Golden Books.
I grew up with a dozen of these titles (as did most people under the age of 80) and they hold a special place in my heart. Now to mention that they can be super profitable.
But which ones exactly?
Well, it’s time to spill the beans and talk about the most valuable Little Golden Books that you can find at thrift stores. While there are a ton of Little Golden Books that are worth money, these are the ones that you’re most likely to find.
But before we get there, let’s talk a little bit about the history of Little Golden Books and what makes specific copies valuable. (in other words, I’m going to teach you to fish rather than just giving you a fish…)
Identifying Valuable Little Golden Books
Little Golden Books have been a beloved staple of children’s literature since their introduction by Simon & Schuster in 1942. The first twelve titles were published with blue spines and dust jackets, and each book cost just 25 cents.
The original books contained around 42 pages but, during WW2 the page count was reduced to 24-28 to conserve paper.
The books were introduced as an affordable alternative to other children’s books which were selling for $2-3.00 each at the time.
For the first 5 years of production (1942-1947) Little Golden Books actually had a blue binding. This was replaced with the iconic gold binding after 1947 and the books today display the same coloring and design.
Each book title received a number, which can usually be found next to the price or opposite the price in the far left top corner. The price remained fixed at 25¢ until 1962 when it was raised to 29¢. (Collectors can use the cover price to help date the books.)
Since their introduction, Little Golden Books have been incredibly popular, with over 2 billion copies sold worldwide.
I’ve found vintage copies can be found in thrift stores for as little as 10¢, at retail for upwards of $2-3.00, and at antique shops for higher prices depending on the edition and condition of the book.
This makes them profitable to source nearly everywhere and I’ve sold Little Golden Books on eBay for anywhere from $12 to $200 dollars.
It helps to think of who going to buy the book and, if you’ve got something that a serious collector would pay for, it’s sure to be a winner!
Now there are a few things that make some Little Golden Books more valuable than others. So let’s talk about what you should be looking for:
If you’re a bookseller you know that first editions are the most valuable and the resell value drops off precipitously with the second edition on.
It’s no different for Little Golden Books.
And this isn’t just directly related to age! The first editions of newer books are also worth more than others.
How To Find The Edition Number Of A Little Golden Book
If you’re trying to find the edition of a vintage Little Golden Book you might be confused when you can’t find it simply printed on the inside. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
For the first 5 years of production (1942-47, same as the blue spine) boots were simply designed as “first edition” or “second edition” on the first or second page.
After that things got a little weirder.
From 1947 until 1970 published designated the edition letter with a corresponding letter of the alphabet: “A” for 1st editions, “B” for 2nd, etc.
You can typically find the letter toward the binding in either the very front or very back of the book.
In 1971 publishers added some complexity to their system and added a series of letters/numbers on the first or second page. However, the edition is still based on the first letter only and follows the same A, B, C methodology.
After 1991 Little Golden Books started following a more orthodox approach and you can simply find and read the edition number at the beginning of the book.
Condition of the Book
If you want to get top dollar for your books then the condition is incredibly important. Obviously, you can’t control the condition you find books in but you’ll need to take the condition into consideration when pricing your finds.
The best books are older books that are in mint or near-mint condition as they are getting rarer by the day and are desirable to collectors.
The more you can pander to collectors the better your sales will turn out. While things might sell more slowly you’ll be able to sell for much more than simply trying to sell reader copies to people who are nostalgic for a certain title.
When sourcing, look for signs of wear such as tears or missing pages, water damage, fading colors, or other signs that the book has been used heavily over time. If you find any defects like these it’s best to avoid buying them unless they are extremely rare editions.
Age of the Book
Another thing to consider when figuring out the value of a Little Golden Book is the age of the book.
In fact, this may be even more important than the edition number.
Older books in good condition are very rare and most titles are out of print for one reason or another (usually because they were offensive in some way).
Including both the edition number and publishing date in the title (if you decide to sell the book on eBay) can be helpful in attracting the types of buyers who are looking for exactly what you have.
Extra Stuff Included…
Last but not least, having any extras that originally came with a book is incredibly rare and gives your Little Golden Book the highest possible valuation.
While most books didn’t come with any bonuses, you could get ones with dolls, puzzles, activity pages, etc.
The 17 Most Valuable Little Golden Books Titles
Now, before you get too worked up at a list of the most valuable Little Golden books, let me say that this list isn’t exhaustive.
In fact, it’s probably not even the most valuable books. There are some incredibly rare printings that you’re unlikely to ever see, so what I’ve done here is compile a list of the most common titles that are worth good money.
These aren’t all home runs but most of these sell in the $15-50 range! Not bad when you consider that most of them were $.25 when new!
Oh, and these aren’t in any specific order. Let’s get to it!
1. All The First Edition Books
When Little Golden Books were released in 1942 there were 12 original titles.
Any of these in their first (or early) editions tend to be quite rare and valuable.
While these might be some of the hardest to find, I have seen them at yard sales, estate auctions, and even in thrift stores.
What Are The 12 Original Little Golden Books?
- This Little Piggy
- Prayers for Children
- Mother Goose
- Bedtime Stories
- The Little Red Hen
- The Golden Book of Fairy Tales
- The Animals of Farmer Jones
- The Poky Little Puppy
- Baby’s Book
- Three Little Kittens
- Nursery Songs
- The Alphabet A-Z
Now, the rest of these are books that may or may not have been among the original 12 but they all deserve a special mention and you should be on the lookout for them!
2. Little Black Sambo
“Little Black Sambo” is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman in 1899. The story revolves around a young Indian boy named Sambo, who outsmarts four hungry tigers that want to eat him. Sambo manages to trick the tigers into chasing each other around a tree until they turn into butter, which he then uses to make pancakes.
If you’re around my age, you probably remember it from school. However, it has a few issues that put it at odds with current society.
While the story itself is considered an example of a clever and resourceful protagonist, the book has been criticized for its racist imagery and the use of a derogatory term for the main character’s name. Over the years, the book has gone through multiple adaptations and revisions to address these concerns, with some versions changing the names, illustrations, and cultural context.
Little Golden Books published the story for many years but due to the controversy surrounding the original text, it is no longer in print…which is great news if you find one that you want to resell!
The book (or a version of it) is currently published by Little Golden as “The Boy and the Tigers.”
3. Jerry At School
“Jerry at School” is a children’s book written by Ouida (pen name of Maria Louise Ramé) and published in 1883. The story follows the adventures of a young boy named Gerald, affectionately known as Jerry, who attends a boarding school in England. The novel focuses on Jerry’s school life, friendships, and the challenges he faces, such as bullying and navigating the complexities of the educational system.
4. The Poky Little Puppy
“The Poky Little Puppy” is a beloved children’s book written by Janette Sebring Lowrey and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. It was first published in 1942 as one of the original twelve Little Golden Books, a popular series of affordable children’s books in the United States. The story revolves around a curious and slow-moving puppy who often lags behind his siblings during their adventures.
Today it remains a classic children’s book and is one of the best-selling picture books of all time! (meaning you’ll probably find it at thrift stores all the time)
5. The Night Before Christmas
“The Night Before Christmas,” also known as “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is a classic Christmas poem written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. As a Little Golden Book, this beloved poem has been adapted into a beautifully illustrated children’s book that introduces young readers to the enchanting story and the magic of Christmas.
This is one of the ones I had growing up but it was not the edition above. Unlike most Little Golden Books the cover of The Night Before Christmas has changed many times with different printings.
6. Ukelele and Her New Doll
“Ukelele and Her New Doll” is a children’s book written by Clara Louise Grant and illustrated by Corinne Malvern. Published as a Little Golden Book, this story introduces young readers to Ukelele, a little girl who receives a new doll as a gift.
The book follows Ukelele’s adventures as she and her doll spend time together, exploring their world and engaging in imaginative play. And, what’s more, this is one of the books that came with a puzzle! Good luck finding the puzzle though as it’s hard enough to find the book…
7. Baby’s Day Out
If you’re familiar with the 1994 movie…this isn’t it. It is, however, a very sought-after Little Golden Book that sells for anywhere from $30 to $200+ which makes it one of the more valuable titles on this list.
8. My Dolly and Me
“My Dolly and Me” is a children’s book written by Patricia Relf and illustrated by Nancy Stevens. As a Little Golden Book, this story introduces young readers to a little girl and her special relationship with her beloved doll.
The above is a 1960 First Edition which sold on eBay for $49.
9. Cowboys and Indians
Another book that has come under fire for its racial portrayals is Cowboys and Indians. However, whenever there is controversy there is someone on one of the sides that is willing to pay a pretty penny for what you’ve got!
10. Brave Cowboy Bill
Here’s another one that came with a bonus! Brave Cowboy Bill often came with a jigsaw puzzle that is incredibly rare to find.
“Brave Cowboy Bill” is a children’s book written by Audrey P. Miller and illustrated by Eleanor Dart. Published as a Little Golden Book, the story introduces young readers to the adventures of a young cowboy named Bill, who is brave and resourceful as he navigates life in the American West.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this one, too, has been criticized for its portrayal of Native Americans so pick it up and sell the controversy!
Where to Find Little Golden Books
As with any other item, figuring out where to source it for cheap is the key to turning a profit.
If you’re looking for valuable Little Golden Books your best bet is to find them in places where the seller has no idea what they have.
For the majority of people, this will mean thrift stores and garage sales as that’s where books are cheapest.
This is especially true for thrift stores in towns with older populations. Often, when someone dies, their kids donate things like kids’ books without a second thought. This is great news for you and me!
Pro Tip – While you’re sourcing, also keep your eyes out for valuable Dr. Seuss books as they can be worth more than the Little Golden Books you’re after!
Best Place To Sell Little Golden Books
Once you’ve found your book the most common question is how you’re going to turn them into cash. While you might have some luck selling them to a bookstore or a collector directly, for most people, eBay will be the answer.
Outside of Amazon eBay has the largest audience of shoppers looking for rare of unusual books. You can easily browse through completed listings on eBay and see exactly how much each book has sold for recently.
Use this research to know exactly what to buy and how to price it when you list it for sale!
FAQs in Relation to Most Valuable Little Golden Books
What Little Golden book is worth the most money?
The Little Golden Book with the highest resale value is “The Poky Little Puppy”. It was originally published in 1942 and has become a classic.
Its estimated value ranges from $200 to $2,000 depending on its condition. Other rare titles include “Tootle” (1945), “Scuffy the Tugboat” (1946), and “The Saggy Baggy Elephant” (1948).
Are there any Little Golden Books worth money?
There are many vintage Little Golden Books that are valuable to readers and collectors.
Some of the rarest and most sought-after titles can fetch prices in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Books that are first editions, in very good condition, or old typically are the most valuable.
Are Little Golden Books from the 1950s worth anything?
Even Little Golden Books from the 1950s can be worth something. The value is often dependent on the title, condition, and printing edition.
How can you tell if a little golden book is a first edition?
To determine if a Little Golden Book is a first edition, look for the copyright date on the title page. If it reads 1945 or earlier, then it is likely to be a first edition. Additionally, examine the dust jacket (if present) for an “A” printed in the lower right corner of the back cover.
With the right knowledge of what makes these books valuable, you can find them at a bargain price and then resell them for maximum profit. Whether you choose to sell on eBay, Poshmark, or through other methods, there are plenty of opportunities out there for those looking to capitalize on the most valuable Little Golden Books.
So get out there and start making money!