The best children’s books celebrating libraries

Angela Burke Kunkel Author Of Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built
By Angela Burke Kunkel

The Books I Picked & Why

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

By Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Why this book?

This lyrical picture book biography, written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and gorgeously illustrated by Paola Escobar, tells the story of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library. Belpré recognized the importance of bilingual storytimes and preserving Puerto Rican folktales, instituting what we might now call culturally responsive outreach in Spanish-speaking communities across New York City.


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Dear Librarian

By Lydia M. Sigwarth, Romina Galotta

Dear Librarian

Why this book?

I very clearly remember Lydia Sigwarth sharing her library story on the This American Life episode “The Room of Requirement” back in 2018. Sigwarth, who was homeless as a child, found peace, stability, and a sense of routine at her local library—and grew up to become a children’s librarian herself. That wonderful segment was turned into an autobiographical picture book, written by Sigwarth and illustrated in warm and cozy tones by Romina Galotta.


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Waiting for the Biblioburro

By Monica Brown, John Parra

Waiting for the Biblioburro

Why this book?

Told from the perspective of Ana, a young girl in rural Colombia, Waiting for the Biblioburro is based on the work of Luis Soriano, an educator who brought books to children in remote parts of the country on the backs of his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. This important story shows the challenges some children face obtaining access to books, and how the adults who support them in innovative ways can inspire a lifelong love of reading.


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The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman

By Kathy Stinson, Marie LaFrance

The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman

Why this book?

In the dark era of post-World War II Germany, journalist, author, and translator Jella Lepman organized a traveling exhibit of over 2,000 books from 14 countries. The Lady with the Books is a fictionalized account of Lepman’s project, told through the eyes of siblings Annelise and Peter, who enter the exhibit hoping to find food and discover something even more sustaining—books, and the hope of better days to come.


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The Library Bus

By Bahram Rahman, Gabrielle Grimard

The Library Bus

Why this book?

The Library Bus offers a glimpse into the importance of mobile libraries, showing how one bus run by a mother and daughter delivers books, school supplies, and lessons to other young girls in Afghanistan. Told of the course of one day, with the bus leaving Kabul in the very early morning and ending at bedtime, the story explains the restrictions women and girls faced under Taliban rule in a clear and age-appropriate way.


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