Guest Post: www.readbrightly.com
Illustration: Nathan Gelgud
Check ’Em Out:
Kids’ Books That Celebrate Libraries
by Sharon Holbrook
Sharon Holbrook, a former attorney, is a writer living with her husband and three children in Cleveland, Ohio. She can’t believe her luck that her job description is “read, think, and write.” Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, and other local and national publications.
Libraries, of course, have a special place in every book-lover’s heart. But libraries don’t just physically hold the stories we crave — sometimes, they are characters in the story. Here are some books that celebrate libraries from children’s literature.
Matilda Wormwood has two parents who think she’s nothing more than a nuisance. Left alone every day to watch TV in her bookless house, precocious reader Matilda wanders down to the local library in search of books. Mrs. Phelps, a kindly librarian, quietly takes Matilda under her wing and exposes the uncommonly advanced reader to books that show her “new worlds…and amazing people who lived exciting lives.” The library was Matilda’s first safe place in life, and it started her on her rollicking, often-hilarious adventures in Roald Dahl’s classic.
(Ages 8 – 12)
by Kate DiCamillo
Opal, the appealing 10-year-old narrator of this modern masterpiece of children’s literature, is lonely. She’s moved to a new Florida town, lives in a trailer park that has no other kids, and still misses the mama who abandoned her and her father years earlier. Opal becomes a regular at the library that summer, and finds an unlikely first friend in Miss Franny, the elderly librarian. Both the library and Miss Franny become touchpoints that lead Opal to more connections and, finally, a full heart.
(Ages 8 – 12)
by Louie Stowell, illustrated by Davide Ortu
When Kit visits the library with her friends, she discovers that she’s a wizard. But an ambitious business tycoon wants to tear down the library. If he succeeds, Kit’s source of power (the books) will get destroyed, and a sleeping dragon will awaken and unleash her frightening magic on the world. With the help of her friends and a dragon-dog hybrid, Kit must find a way to stop the destruction of the library.
(Ages 7 – 10)
by Jeanette Winter
For Matilda and Opal, the library was a short walk from home. In a remote part of northern Colombia, though, the library doesn’t even exist — that is, until it walks to you on the back of a burro. Inspired by a true story, intrepid booklover Luis makes the long and sometimes dangerous journeys to bring the transformative power of books to small villages. Gorgeously illustrated with colorful art by John Parra.
(Ages 5 – 8)
by Chris Grabenstein
Until now, the 12-year-olds in Alexandria, Ohio, have never known a library in their town — the old one was torn down a decade earlier to make way for a parking garage. In this middle grade novel and its sequel, quirky gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello celebrates his flashy new multimedia library by turning it into another one of his games, with children as the live-action players. Soaked with references to book titles and the Dewey Decimal system, these books are a fun, sugary homage to libraries. Grown-up bibliophiles will appreciate the tension between old-style libraries and modern technology, but kids will just enjoy the fun.
(Ages 8 – 12)
by David Zeltser, illustrated by Raul Colón
A young boy discovers the wonders of the New York Public Library in this stunning picture book. When he finds out that his birthday gift is a book, the boy is disappointed. But that night, the stone lions that guard the library whisk him away on a literary adventure. They show him how books and stories affect his life and those of his family and friends.
(Ages 3 – 7)
by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Jake is a slow and careful reader and often feels left behind on library day. When the school librarian notices Jake’s interest in the new wooden bookshelves, she gives him an old copy of a woodworking book. He falls in love with the book and decides to use what he’s learned to build a special gift for the librarian. This sweet story shows readers that libraries have books for every reader.
(Ages 4 – 8)
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Young library lovers will feel inspired by this poetry biography of Arturo Schomburg. Even though he was a law clerk, Arturo loved collecting books, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora. When his collection became too large for his house, he moved it to the New York Public Library, where it grew into the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
(Ages 8 – 12)
by D.J. Machale
When strange things start happening to him, Marcus and his friends know where to find answers — the library. But this is no ordinary library. It’s full of adventure, magic, and peril. Go on a fast-paced and humorous escapade with a group of friends as they race to finish their stories before the clock runs out.
(Ages 8 – 12)
by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
In this light picture book for the younger set, we once again face the question: Who belongs in the library? This time, it’s an uninvited lion that walks into the library. Despite the protests of one librarian that lions don’t belong, librarian Miss Merriweather insists that the library is a place for everyone. That is, the strict Miss Merriweather clarifies, as long as they are not breaking any library rules. A warm friendship develops and, as it turns out, maybe library rules can be broken, if it’s for a very, very good reason. Preschool and early elementary children will adore this New York Times bestseller.
(Ages 4 – 8)
by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
In the books discussed above, a meaningful trip to the library is never a solo experience. Always, there’s a librarian, friend, or supportive adult who helps make the young person’s library experience happen. Reading Lola at the Library is a chance for you to be that person to a preschooler. This simple picture book is a lovely little introduction to both the workings of the library (library cards, storytime, and how to check out books) and the excitement and wonder of a library outing.
(Ages 0 – 3)
by Dori Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant
Introduce your young reader to Kaz, a ghost boy who gets separated from his ghost family. He teams up with Claire, a girl who can see ghosts and lives above the town library. Together, they solve mysteries, go on adventures, and form a lasting friendship throughout this fun chapter book series.
(Ages 6 – 8)
Show your library some love, and it will show you the world.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2021.
*Blog Link: www.babybookworms.blogspot.ca
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