Beatrix Potter books were loved in my house as a child, so I will read them to Ashley too. Half Price Books had a copy of Peter Rabbit for ninety-eight cents. I started reading it and it was surprisingly good. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the lush, warm art; the lyrical writing. And I was shocked at the difference in quality between this book and most of the hand-me-down crap that has infiltrated our library.
Animator John K talks about design theory all the time. His blog is great, you should read it. In a post called "The Death of Form" he compares old toys with their post-1970 analogues. He concludes that modern toy makers "must hate kids. Either that or they are just plain retarded." My thoughts exactly.
I feel the same way about classic books (or just plain good ones) compared to the bulk of what's available today. One day when my wife is out of the house I'm going to fill up a garbage bag from our bookcase, and when she comes home there will be nothing but good stuff on the shelf!