Terrific Treasuries: How To Buy Picture Books AND Save Money

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As a parent, you need to save money and spend it wisely, in order to get more book for your buck.

"HarperCollins Treasury"
It's far from easy, as every parent knows.

Throughout my read aloud career, I've also been trying to keep picture book expenses under control.

To keep in tune with my readers, I review only what I buy. No free books from publishers for Read Aloud Dad - not that there is anything wrong with getting sample books for an honest review, mind you.

But there is a magnificent way that you can keep your expenses down as a parent, while providing your kids with dozens and dozens of new picture book classics. (And no, I'm not talking used books here)

I've got a treasure tip for you.

Take a look at these two incredible anthologies.

You should be amazed that these two fantastic books are still on sale.  

They are a steal !!

"20th Century Treasury"

Parents usually don't get an opportunity to save money on children's books - ever.

With such a wide range of authors and picture books for young listeners - saving money is exactly what you can hope for with this pair!

 HarperCollins Treasury: For the price of two hardcover picture books you get 12 fully illustrated picture books

Not good enough?

20th Century Treasury: For roughly the same price get 46 picture books rolled into one (with somewhat smaller and fewer illustrations)

Take your pick. I did.

The good news is that whichever treasury you choose ... you win.

In the case of this pair, I agonized because I wanted both.

I was torn.

I was a click or two away from ordering some of the 58 smashing children's picture books offered in the form of two separate books.

I couldn't make up my mind which treasury to buy!

Should I take the The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud (with its massive 46 children's books and excerpts) although it did not carry all the illustrations from the original books and the ones included were often reduced in size?

It includes four Caldecott medal winners and many other award-winning books in its 308 pages (scroll down for full list of the included picture books)

Or should I remain a children's book "purist", by insisting on the dozen untouched versions of children's books with full-size pictures in the
HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics: A Child's First Collection?

It contains 12 complete read-aloud classics included on its 450 pages, but with ALL original full-size illustrations from the included books. This treasury is even heavier than the preceding one. (scroll down for full list of included picture books)

In the end - I took the plunge and ordered BOTH (in January 2010, one year ago).

Brace yourself - I'm ready to spill the beans on both of my purchases.

1. The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud

Before I go into the details - let me tell you the most important thing.

I forgot to include this book in my "5 ways to find the best read-aloud books". This treasury almost deserves a place of its own.

I can't review here all the 46 picture books, due to its sheer size, what I want to do is to share my thoughts on the treasury.

This anthology is a hot bed of ideas for a new read-aloud parent, it will help you discover new authors and new illustrators - it's richness and breadth is simply infectious.

Instead of making costly mistakes (buying books your kids will not like), the treasury will allow you to identify what your kids love ... and then you can build on this.

Let me give you an example.

This treasury introduced my twins and me to Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings - it resonated with all of us.

Since then we ordered ALL (yes all!) of McCloskey's books as stand-alone edictions.

Oh yes - and Harry the Dirty Dog! After he charmed my daughter, I decided to look for Harry's own treasury of stories to keep the love affair between my kids and Harry going.

This 20-th Century Treasury is not a mere collection of children's books - it is a wealth of ideas for parents who wish to expand their knowledge of children's books.

Keep in mind though that some of the illustrations have been omitted in this anthology, while others have been reduced in size.

Still, it is an incredible feat.

With two exceptions (Amelia Bedelia and Petunia, which were slighly abridged), all selections include the entire original text. Although a year has passed, we still have not read all the stories in this Treasury. It is so comprehensive.

There are stories for different age levels - which is a fantastic concept.

Selector Janet Schulman even included color-coded symbols with each story in order to indicate the approximate age level.

There are stories for the yougest child (red symbols), through blue-coded stories (intermediate) all the way to longer stories that are told primarily with words (green
symbol) and which require a greater attention span or range of experience.

To say that the list of picture books included in this treasury is extensive - is an understatement.

Check out its contents:

1. excerpt from Winnie-The-Pooh (1926)
Author: A.A. Milne

    2. Millions of Cats (1928)
   Author: Wanda Gág

     3. The Story of Babar: the Little Elephant (1931)
      Author: Jean de Brunhoff

    4. The Story of Ferdinand (1936)
      Author: Munro Leaf

     5. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939)
      Author: Virginia Lee Burton

    6. Madeline (1939)   
 Author: Ludwig Bemelmans

     7. Curious George (1941) 
      Authors: H.A. Rey , Margret Rey

     8. Make Way for Ducklings (1941)
      Author: Robert McCloskey

9. story from The Cat Club (1944)
Author: Esther Averill

     10. Goodnight Moon (1947)
      Author: Margaret Wise Brown

     11. Petunia (1950)
      Author: Ruger Duvoisin

     12. Harry the Dirty Dog (1956)
      Author: Gene Zion

     13. Bedtime For Frances (1960)
      Author: Russell Hoban

14. The Sneetches from The Sneetches And Other Stories (1961)
Author: Dr. Seuss

     15. The Snowy Day (1962)
      Author: Ezra Jack Keats

     16. Amelia Bedelia (1963)
      Author: Peggy Parish

    17. I Am a Bunny (1963)
      Author: Ole Risom

     18. Where the Wild Things Are (1963) 
      Author: Maurice Sendak

     19. Swimmy (1963)
      Author: Leo Lionni

     20. A Boy, a Dog and a Frog (1967)
      Author: Mercer Mayer

21. The Elves In The Shelves
from A Necklace of Raindrops (1968)
Author: Joan Aiken

     22. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1969)
      Author: William Steig

23. Stevie (1969)
Author: John Steptoe

24. The Letter from Frog and Toad Are Friends (1970)
Author: Arnold Lobel

     25. Whose Mouse Are You? (1970)
      Author: Robert Kraus

     26. Titch (1971) 
      Author: Pat Hutchins

     27. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972)
      Author: Judith Viorst

     28. Miss Nelson Is Missing! (1977)
      Author: Harry Allard

     29. The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree (1978)
      Authors: Stan Berenstain , Jan Berenstain

     30. Freight Train (1979)
      Author: Donald Crews

31. A Chair for My Mother (1982)
Author: Vera B. Williams

     32. Ten, Nine, Eight (1983)
      Author: Molly Bang

     33. I Touch (1986)
      Author: Helen Oxenbury
34. I Hear (1986)
      Author: Helen Oxenbury

35. I See (1986)
      Author: Helen Oxenbury

36. The Tub People (1989)
Author: Pam Conrad

     37. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (1989)
      Authors: Bill Martin, Jr. , John Archambault

     38. First Tomato (1992)
      Author: Rosemary Wells

39. The Stinky Cheese Man
from The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992),
Author: Jon Scieszka

     40. A Million Fish...More or Less (1992)
      Author: Patricia C. McKissack

 41. Owen (1993)
      Author: Kevin Henkes

   42. Stellaluna (1993)
      Author: Janell Cannon

     43. Good Night, Gorilla (1994)
      Author: Peggy Rathmann

 44. D.W. the Picky Eater (1995)
      Author: Marc Brown

45. Guess How Much I Love You (1995)
      Author: Sam McBratney

     46. The Story of Little Babaji (1996)
      Authors: Helen Bannerman , Fred Marcellino

2. HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics: A Child's First Collection

And the pictures in this anthology are huge! You are sure to win over any toddler.

It's sheer size does not prevent my small daughter from hauling this book around wherever she goes. I still can't believe that she can carry and "read it" on her own, but she never complains.

For small children, this book may be the more approachable of the two treasuries - because as a read-aloud it is geared primarily to the younger ages.

This treasury will also have great value as a source of reading material for kids when learning to read - so it will be useful later on as well.

This anthology introduced us to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - a story that was so
important to my twins that there was a period when we had to read it practically every day for almost a month and I ordered the other books by the same author (Laura Joffe Numeroff) - such as If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, etc.).

Two-year olds and three-year olds need a lot of visual stimulus - and here lies the success of this treasury. It has 12 unabridged picture books with full-size illustrations.

Contents include:

1. Goodnight Moon
Author: Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

2. Caps for Sale
 Author: Esphyr Slobodkina

3. Harold and the Purple Crayon 
 Author: Crockett Johnson

4. Crictor 
 Author: Tomi Ungerer

5. A Baby Sister for Frances
 Author: Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

6. Leo the Late Bloomer 
Author: Robert Kraus, illustrated by Jose Aruego

7. William's Doll 
Author: Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by William Pène Du Bois

8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie 
Author: Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

9. George Shrinks 
Author: William Joyce

10. Baby Says 
 Author: John Steptoe

11. From Head to Toe 
 Author: Eric Carle

12. Pete's a Pizza
 Author: William Steig

Comparing them I can only conclude that these anthologies are complementary - not rivals.

I see the HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics as the best option for youngest listeners (because of its fantastic visuals with full color illustrations), while the 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury has four times as many stories and a greater potential to satisfy kids of different ages, despite sacrificing a significant number of illustrations (in terms of number and size).

These two anthologies do not compete in my household - both are equally loved and enjoyed.

If you are wondering, there is no overlap between the two - except for Goodnight Moon.

Looking back, I can say that The HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics helped my twins to get hooked on picture books, while the 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury helped them get hooked on read alouds.

Sounds similar, but they achieved different things. So both books were instrumental in their development.

Get the best of both worlds.

Buy a treasury, save money and shower your kids with new picture books and read-aloud material.

A win-win solution for any read-aloud family!

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