Unearth Hidden Treasures: Valuable First-Edition Children’s Books Worth a Fortune

Sophie Kamkar

Written by

Sophie Kamkar

Content Marketing Manager

Josie Shepherd

Reviewed by

Josie Shepherd

Brand Marketing Manager

Less than 1 minute

Updated: 19 Feb 2024

Are you unwittingly hoarding a hidden treasure? Recent findings from a comprehensive study Homeprotect conducted have unveiled the surprising value of first-edition classic children’s books, potentially turning your sentimental keepsakes into a tidy sum. As it turns out, your old books might be worth more than you think, with Jane Austen’s first edition Pride and Prejudice leading the pack as the most valuable, boasting a staggering listing price of £139,356. Let’s dive into this literary treasure hunt and discover the valuable classics that could be lining your bookshelves.

Rediscovering Forgotten Wealth

A recent survey has unveiled the United Kingdom’s knack for hoarding, with 50 percent of Brits admitting they struggle to declutter due to sentimental attachment, and a surprising 26 percent of homeowners uncertain about the contents of their own attics. Amid these stacks of belongings could lie hidden treasures of significant value, and this isn’t limited to just jewellery or antiques. First-edition children’s books, particularly those that have stood the test of time as beloved classics, are a prime example of items that can appreciate dramatically over the years.

Unveiling the Literary Fortune

Homeprotect’s thorough investigation aimed to identify the most valuable first-edition listings of classic children’s books, shedding light on potentially lucrative finds that could alleviate financial pressures during these challenging times. Here are the remarkable revelations from the study:

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This timeless classic claims the top spot, with some copies listed for an astonishing £139,356. Originally published in 1813, its early editions sold for a mere 18 shillings, which translates to roughly £52 in today’s currency. This represents an astronomical increase in value of 267,892 percent.
  2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: Regarded as the first English novel, this adventure tale was published in 1719 and now commands an estimated price of around £39,221 in 2023. This marks a remarkable 106,219 percent appreciation over two centuries.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: This fantasy masterpiece, released in 1937, graces the third position with an average listing value of £27,174. Its initial publication saw just 1,500 copies in circulation, each selling for roughly £17.81 (adjusted for inflation) – a remarkable 142,329 percent increase in value.
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Carroll’s fantastical tale, first published in 1865, boasts an average listing value of £20,381, a staggering 123,126 percent appreciation from its initial pricing of four shillings.
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: Dickens’ beloved Christmas tale, published in 1843, rounds out the top five with a first-edition listing value averaging £18,735 – a 98,093 percent increase from its original worth of five shillings.
Unlocking your potential wealth

Our study further identifies other first-edition children’s books with substantial value potential, including The Velveteen Rabbit, Swallows and Amazons, The Diary of a Young Girl, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

David Joyson, Chief Customer Officer at Homeprotect, emphasizes the importance of assessing the value of your old children’s books before passing them on or donating them. He advises seeking professional valuation to ensure you’re not unintentionally giving away a fortune. High-value items, including these cherished literary works, may be safeguarded through contents insurance, protecting them against potential losses from various risks (although always check with your insurance provider to confirm what you’re covered for).

Discovering literary gold

As the study confirms, the shelves that hold your cherished childhood memories might also harbour impressive financial potential. If you’re among the many who hold onto first-edition children’s books, it might be time to reassess their value. Who knows – you might be sitting on a hidden treasure trove right at home.


We used the Penguin ‘Top 100 Children’s Books’ list: https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2022/03/best-childrens-books-stories and selected the first 59 children’s books. In addition, we added 7 classic children’s books from our previous study in 2019.  

We then searched for these 66 children’s books in AbeBooks https://www.abebooks.co.uk/, a popular site for selling rare books online. We filtered AbeBooks by ‘most recently listed’ and made note of the first five first edition books available for each title.  

In some instances we ignored listings that featured the book as part of a wider anthology, books with very rare additions such as handwritten letters by the authors, and books that were in extremely poor condition.  

We did our best to ensure that only first editions printed in the year of release were included. However, in some instances we included books printed at a later date but still very early on in the title’s lifecycle. Our estimated prices might not include taxes or shipping fees.  

Our objective with this data was to find what the typical asking price of each rare children’s book would be. As every book will be in a different physical condition, and the intricacies of first editions vary, it’s hard to be precise- but we believe by averaging the asking prices of the five most recently listed first editions, this gives a general range of what these books might be worth.