Here is a list of recommended children’s picture books about libraries. See if they have any of these books at your local library. You may also want to order one or more of the titles at Amazon and add them to your home library.
The Library, by Sarah Stewart – “She didn’t like to play with dolls,/She didn’t like to skate./She learned to read quite early/And at an incredible rate.” The husband and wife team of Sarah Stewart (author) and David Small (illustrator) have crafted a delightful story of a shy, nearsighted girl named Elizabeth Brown who loves books. She always has a book in her hand, no matter what she is doing. As Elizabeth grows up, she passes up new clothes and snacks but is always looking for new books to read. Soon her house is filled to the brim with books! I personally love this book! The story is charming and beautiful, with soft watercolor illustrations that perfectly complement the rhyming text.
Library Lil, by Suzanne Williams – From the day she was born, Lil had a book in her hand…so it’s no surprise when she grows up to become a librarian herself. She even manages to turn the people of Chesterville – who are couch potatoes – into readers. But then Bust-’em-up Bill roars into town with his motorcycle gang. Just mention reading to him and you’re toast. Has Lil finally met her match? Hardly. Library Lil champions the cause of reading through brute physical strength, showing that not all librarians are “stuffy old ladies.” This original tall tale by a real-life librarian, combined with Steven Kellogg’s colorful and humorous illustrations, is better than any TV show! It’s perfect for Screen-Free Week!
“L” Is for Library, by Sonya Terry – This clever, creative book (and its engaging illustrations which enhance the text) provides a unique alphabetical tour of the library. It starts with a little girl who, as Author, creates an orange tabby cat as her main character, who falls out of the cherry tree George Washington is about to chop down in the Biography section. The story is told with a catchy rhythm and rhyme scheme: “C is for the Caldecott,/awarded for art that pleases the eyes./D is for the Dewey Decimal System,/which helps us organize.” A delightful introduction to everything there is to do and see in a library! The story stays within the context of what boys and girls commonly encounter in library visits of their own. A good project to do after reading this would be having the students make their own ABC book.
R Is for Research, by Toni Buzzeo – The cute kitty from L is for Library (by the same illustrator but a different author) returns to the library, and this time he and his friends are working on a research assignment! Cal D. Cat shadows students around the media center as they follow a recommended research strategy through the alphabet: “A is for assignment./We’ve got research to do./B is for books./Some are old;/some brand new.”
E is for essential reference items to use.
F is for facts in the sources we’ll choose.
O is for organize, sort and cite facts in turn.
P is for product. Now we’ll show what we’ve learned.
U is for understanding. It increased as we searched.
V is for verify that we’ve done our best work.
A great way to introduce basic research concepts, this engaging picture book will get children excited about working their own way through the alphabet! The author of this book is a library media specialist; she includes a lesson plan booklet with the story. Or you can download it here for free in a PDF format.
Library Mouse, by Daniel Kirk – A mouse named Sam lives in the library. He spends his days sleeping behind the children’s reference section, and his nights reading all kinds of books: picture books, chapter books, biographies, poetry, cookbooks, sports books, fairy tales, ghost stories and mysteries. Eventually he decides to write some books himself, and then he secretly places them on a shelf. When the children begin to discover and read Sam’s books, he comes up with a clever idea to encourage them to write as well. A great book to introduce a writing activity, or to inspire students to write their own stories.
Library Mouse: A World to Explore, by Daniel Kirk – This book is an excellent way to introduce young readers to the fun of researching topics that interest them, which, according to Sam, is “how you find out about things.” His new friend, Sarah, explains to him that readers and writers are explorers, too. She shows how one can discover many different subjects in the library, and find all kinds of adventures on the pages of books.
Library Mouse: A Museum Adventure, by Daniel Kirk – Sam the library mouse and his friend Sarah are off on a new adventure. They leave the library and go to a museum so Sam can make sketches in his explorer’s journal. Sam shows her that a journal can contain anything, from a ticket stub to drawings of cool things like modern sculptures, dinosaur bones, and ancient Egyptian mummies. As they explore the museum, they see all kinds of art and artifacts. This book will encourage kids to keep their own journals – a perfect book to read before going on a museum field trip!
Please Bury Me in the Library, by J. Patrick Lewis – A poetic salute to libraries with an eclectic mix of poetry styles: acrostic, haiku, free verse, and rhyming verse including quatrains and couplets. These original poems range from sweet to silly to laugh-out-loud funny. Word lovers of all ages will enjoy the witty wordplay. (The author credits Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, and X. J. Kennedy as his inspirations.) Richly colored paintings add to the whimsical appeal.
That Book Woman, by Heather Henson – Cal and his family live high in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. He’s proud to be a hard worker and scorns his sister, who’d rather read all day long. But that “Book Woman” keeps coming. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that’s not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish – or is she braver than he thought? This historical fiction picture book is a heartwarming tribute to the Pack Horse Librarians of the 1930s, part of a little-known WPA program. Librarians (mostly women) were hired to take books to remote areas of Appalachia during the Great Depression. The lyrical free-verse narrative uses Appalachian colloquialisms, which lends atmosphere and authenticity to the story – a little tricky but fun to read aloud the way the words roll off your tongue. This book is a great way to integrate reading and social studies. It would be perfect for a history lesson on the Great Depression and a glimpse into what life was like in the 1930s. There is an “Author’s Note” in the back of the book that gives details about the Pack Horse Library Project and other resources to find more information.
Tomas and the Library Lady, by Pat Mora – Tomás Rivera was born into a migrant family in the 1930s. This award-winning book tells the fictionalized story of one summer in Rivera’s childhood when a kind librarian took him under her wing while his family worked in the fields. She introduced him to stories about dinosaurs, horses, and American Indians. She also gave Tomas the greatest gift of all – a book of his own to keep. Rivera grew up to value books, reading, and education. He went on to become a teacher and college professor. When Rivera died in 1984, he was Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside. The campus library now bears his name. This book includes a section of activities inspired by the story, which further enhance its educational value.
The Storyteller’s Candle, by Lucia Gonzalez and Lulu Delacre – The Storyteller’s Candle is a bilingual English/Spanish picture book set in the early part of the Depression, when large numbers of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York City. A librarian named Pura Belpré introduced the immigrant children to the wonders of the public library. Pura Belpré would light her storyteller’s candle and tell stories (with puppets!) in both English and Spanish. This book honors the real-life Pura Belpré, a Puerto Rican, who became the first Latina librarian hired by the New York Public Library System. Pura Belpré actively advocated bilingual story hours, buying Spanish language books, and implementing programs based on traditional holidays like El Día de los Reyes, Three Kings’ Day. The book’s illustrations are unique in that on many of the pages, actual old newspaper clippings from the New York Times contain historical information that pertains to the story. This book offers a glimpse into the immigrant experience of that time period, and is an excellent way to introduce children to another language. It contains more text than most picture books. At the end of the book there is a glossary, and an activity related to the newspaper collages. Like Pura Belpré, author Lucia Gonzalez is also a librarian. Both authors won the Pura Belpré Award, a children’s book award that goes to a “Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”
Richard Wright and the Library Card, by William Miller – The true story of African-American author Richard Wright, who grew up in the segregated South of the 1920s. His formal education ended after he completed ninth grade, but he was able to gain access to the public library with the help of a white coworker. This opened up a new world of books for him, eventually inspiring him to become a writer. The book lends itself to a Reading and Social Studies curriculum, or a history lesson on racial segregation in the U.S.
Me Gustan Las Bibliotecas (I Love Libraries) – This picture book by Liliana Santirso tells why a child loves libraries. It’s written in Spanish, and can be read freely online at the International Children’s Digital Library.