well, having 3 children ranging from 25 down to 3, i have quite a collection of story books..
but for each child they got their own books too..
for my most recent (who's 3 this summer), she LOVES clifford and dora, so most of her books are clifford and dora
my middle child liked scooby doo and sponge bob, so her book collection is mostly scooby doo and sponge bob
my oldest---hmmm25 yrs ago...beatrix potter (still have the collected works), berenstain bears were her favourite, so we also have a collection of berenstain bears books
i like winnie the pooh, so all 3 of my girls had to 'suffer' thru my winnie the pooh books :)--books of all different sizes and shapes--board books, story books, lift the flap, etc...
i also have the Cosgrove collection---GREAT stories....
magic castle readers by Jane Belk Moncure----beautiful learning tools in these books....loved them
buying the board books first is definitely the way to go...
ABC's, 123's, colours, shapes, first words, etc....and go from there
you're right--there are soooo many to choose from....deciding which ones to pick is probably one of the hardest things to do (especially for a book freak--that's me)
I usually went with the first book i picked up...it was first, so must be something about it--right