The best children’s books for library lovers

Annette Bay Pimentel Author Of Pura's Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories
By Annette Bay Pimentel

The Books I Picked & Why

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

By Angela Burke Kunkel, Paola Escobar

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

Why this book?

The true story of an enterprising Colombian garbage collector who has built an entire library by snatching discarded books out of dumpsters. He regularly opens his home library to the community, a meaningful service in a neighborhood far from any of the few public libraries in Bogotá. The art toggles between the mundane everyday realities of his life and the imaginative worlds that books open up to him.


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Dreamers

By Yuyi Morales

Dreamers

Why this book?

This lyrical picture book memoir celebrates libraries and the way they opened possibilities for Morales when she immigrated to the United States. The author’s note at the back gives all the details about what happened to Morales. Her distinctive art is luscious and full of tiny details to discover and savor. The book is also available in a Spanish language version, titled Soñadores. Morales’ sister, Magaly, illustrated my book.


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Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books

By Karen Leggett Abouraya, Susan L. Roth

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books

Why this book?

In 2011, when violent protests rocked Egypt, thousands of people joined hands and formed a human chain to surround and protect the library in Alexandria. This true story is told from the perspective of the librarian who feared his library would be destroyed until the moment that book lovers joined together to save it. Beautiful illustrations by the collage artist Susan Roth.


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Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velasquez

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Why this book?

This book looks like a picture book, but with its large format, 48 pages, 4,519 words, and page-length poems, it is really for a middle school or older audience. It tells the fascinating story of how a passionate collector built a library to prove that African Americans have a history. Today that collection is the heart of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the New York Public Library. The gorgeous paintings by Eric Velasquez will entrance everyone from preschooler to adult.


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The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

By Alexis O'Neill, Edwin Fotheringham

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

Why this book?

All those numbers on the spines of library books? This book tells the story of the man who invented the first widely-used library cataloguing system: Melvil Dewey. Sometimes biographies gloss over difficult personalities, but this one doesn’t pretend Dewey was always admirable. Instead, it suggests that his bull-headedness might have been part of the reason his decimal cataloguing system was ultimately adopted. And Fotheringham manages to make a book about books lively and fun in the illustrations.


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