“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead.” — Caitlin Moran
This week is National Library Week. There are several themes throughout the week to help you celebrate, including National Library Workers Day, National Bookmobile Day, and Celebrate Teen Literature Day. These are themes that can easily be celebrated throughout the year, and we encourage you to do so. Nonetheless, we particularly love these kinds of events because they thrust books and the people behind them in the spotlight.
We hope that you will take full advantage of these opportunities to celebrate books and the people behind them. Moreover, we encourage you to take your kids to the library, and while you’re there, be sure to thank your librarians and tell them how much you appreciate what they do to impact literature and literacy. Without further ado, here are 11 memorable children’s books you can read with your kids to honor and celebrate National Library Week. As always, feel free to share some of your favorites, particularly those we may have missed. Happy National Library Week!
The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (Ages 5 and up) by Carla Morris (Author), Brad Sneed (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: Every day after school Melvin goes to the library. Everything has its place in the library and Melvin likes it that way. And his favorite people–Marge, Betty, and Leola–are always in their places, behind the reference desk.
When something interests Melvin, his librarian friends help him find lots and lots of books on the subject. When he collects creepy bugs in a jar, they help him identify, classify, and catalog the insects. When he is cast as the Enormous Eggplant in the school play, Betty reads aloud from Organic Gardening to help him find his motivation. As the years pass, Melvin can always find the answers to his questions–and a lot of fun–in the library. Then one day he goes off to college to learn new things and read new books. Will he leave the library and his friends behind forever?
Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians (Ages 4-8 years) by Jackie Mims Hopkins (Author), John Manders (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: Students will love our fractured fairy tale that puts a new twist on the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Use the coordinating posters and bookmarks to reinforce the lessons taught in the book.
Deep in an enchanted forest, a little girl named Goldie Socks finds a storybook cottage. When she looks inside, she finds shelves and shelves filled with books. As she searches for 1 that is just right and a comfy place to read it, Mama, Papa and Baby Libearian discover that someone has been in their house!
Library Mouse (Ages 4-8 years) by Daniel Kirk (Author)
Book Synopsis: Beloved children’s books author and illustrator Daniel Kirk wonderfully brings to life the story of Sam, a library mouse. Sam’s home was in a little hole in the wall in the children’s reference books section, and he thought that life was very good indeed. For Sam loved to read. He read picture books and chapter books, biographies and poetry, and ghost stories and mysteries. Sam read so much that finally one day he decided to write books himself!
Sam shared his books with other library visitors by placing them on a bookshelf at night. Until there came the time that people wanted to meet this talented author. Whatever was Sam to do?
Tomas and the Library Lady (Ages 3-7 years) by Pat Mora (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather’s wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. “There are more stories in the library,” Papa Grande tells him. The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him.
Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries–and education–can make possible. Raul Colón’s warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás’ life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.
I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word (Ages 5-8 years) by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton (Author), Herb Leonhard (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: A most exciting word has the whole library abuzz. What combination of letters could possibly drive a person to do such absurd things? Fascinated children look on as Miss Divine dines on a table, chomps down a chair, and savors a shelf-all to chase down a single word. Written in the style of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” this book reveals the only verb that could make a librarian practically purr, and that word is READ.
The Storyteller’s Candle (Ages 6 and up) by Lucia Gonzalez (Author), Lulu Delacre (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: The winter of 1929 feels especially cold to cousins Hildamar and Santiago—they arrived in New York City from sunny Puerto Rico only months before. Their island home feels very far away indeed, especially with Three Kings’ Day rapidly approaching. But then a magical thing happened. A visitor appears in their class, a gifted storyteller and librarian by the name of Pura Belpré. She opens the children’s eyes to the public library and its potential to be the living, breathing heart of the community.
The library, after all, belongs to everyone—whether you speak Spanish, English, or both. The award-winning team of Lucía González and Lulu Delacre have crafted an homage to Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian. Through her vision and dedication, the warmth of Puerto Rico came to the island of Manhattan in a most unexpected way.
The Lonely Book (Ages 4-8 years) by Kate Bernheimer (Author), Chris Sheban (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: When a wonderful new book arrives at the library, at first it is loved by all, checked out constantly, and rarely spends a night on the library shelf. But over time it grows old and worn, and the children lose interest in its story. The book is sent to the library’s basement where the other faded books live. How it eventually finds an honored place on a little girl’s bookshelf—and in her heart—makes for an unforgettable story sure to enchant anyone who has ever cherished a book. Kate Bernheimer and Chris Sheban have teamed up to create a picture book that promises to be loved every bit as much as the lonely book itself.
Lola at the Library (Ages 2-5 years) by Anna McQuinn (Author), Rosalind Beardshaw (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: Lola has a big smile on her face. Why? Because it’s Tuesday–and on Tuesdays, Lola and her mommy go to the library. Join Lola in this cozy celebration of books and the people who love them
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile (Ages 4-8 years) by Gloria Houston (Author), Susan Condie Lamb (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: When Dorothy was a young girl, she loved books, and she loved people, so she decided that she would become a librarian. Dorothy’s dearest wish is to be a librarian in a fine brick library just like the one she visited when she was small. But her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries, so Miss Dorothy and her neighbors decide to start a bookmobile. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them—at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile is an inspiring story about the love of books, the power of perseverance, and how a librarian can change people’s lives.
That Book Woman (Ages 4-8 years) by Heather Henson (Author), David Small (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: Cal is not the readin’ type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he’d rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. 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 ever thought?
That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history — the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.
Goin’ Someplace Special (Ages 4-8 years) by Patricia C. Mckissack (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
Book Synopsis: There’s a place in this 1950s southern town where all are welcome, no matter what their skin color…and ‘Tricia Ann knows exactly how to get there. To her, it’s someplace special and she’s bursting to go by herself. When her grandmother sees that she’s ready to take such a big step, ‘Tricia Ann hurries to catch the bus heading downtown. But unlike the white passengers, she must sit in the back behind the Jim Crow sign and wonder why life’s so unfair. Still, for each hurtful sign seen and painful comment heard, there’s a friend around the corner reminding ‘Tricia Ann that she’s not alone. And even her grandmother’s words — “You are somedbody, a human being — no better, no worse than anybody else in this world” — echo in her head, lifting her spirits and pushing her forward.
Patricia C. McKissack’s poignant story of growing up in the segregated South and Jerry Pinkney’s rich, detailed watercolors lead readers to the doorway of freedom.
Special Bonus: “For me, the library was a doorway to freedom, to free thought. When you’re being taught, “you can’t, you can’t, you can’t” … the library says, “you can, you can, you can.” And I did.” — Patricia McKissack, on the inspiration behind Goin’ Someplace Special. Watch video: An Excerpt from Goin’ Someplace Special.
By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids