The best children’s books about libraries and librarians

Sharlee Glenn Author Of Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile
By Sharlee Glenn

Who am I?

As I wrote in my author's note for Library on Wheels: "Growing up as a book-loving child in rural Utah in the 1960s and '70s, I developed a strong emotional connection to the bookmobile. My father died in a mining accident when I was five, leaving my mother with seven children to raise on her own. We didn't have much money or many opportunities, but every two weeks the bookmobile brought the universe to me." As a writer of children's books, I was immediately intrigued when I ran across an obscure reference to Mary Lemist Titcomb, credited with being the inventor of the bookmobile in America--and I knew at once that I had to write about her. 

I wrote...

Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile

By Sharlee Glenn,

Book cover of Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile

What is my book about?

Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932) was one of the most innovative librarians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the head librarian of the Washington County Free Library--one of the nation’s first county libraries—located near the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in Maryland, Mary wanted to make sure that all the residents of the county had access to books—not just the adults, not just the rich or educated, not just those who lived in town.

She was absolutely unwavering in her dedication to this vision. And so she came up with the idea of a horse-drawn “book wagon” which could carry books to the outlying villages and farms. And thus, the bookmobile was born!

The books I picked & why

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Waiting for the Biblioburro

By Monica Brown, John Parra (illustrator),

Book cover of Waiting for the Biblioburro

Why this book?

As a book-loving child who grew up poor in rural Utah and who eagerly awaited the bi-monthly visit of the bookmobile to our little farming community, Waiting for the Biblioburro sings to me. Set in the mountains of Colombia and inspired by the mission of real-life teacher and librarian Luis Soriano, Waiting for the Biblioburro tells the story of little Ana who looks forward with great anticipation to the arrival of Luis and his two burros, Alfa and Beto, who carry books to her little mountain village. The colorful folk-artsy illustrations by John Parra perfectly bring to life Brown’s story.

According to the author’s note: “This book is a celebration of Luis and all the teachers and librarians who bring books to children everywhere—across deserts, fields, mountains, and water.” 

That Book Woman

By Heather Henson, David Small (illustrator),

Book cover of That Book Woman

Why this book?

The spare lyricism of both the text and illustrations of That Book Woman tug at the heartstrings without being overly sentimental. Young Cal works hard with his Pap on their Appalachian farm. Unlike his sister, an avid reader, Cal thinks he was not “born / to sit so stoney-still / a-starin’ at some chicken scratch.” But his grudging admiration for “that book woman” who just keeps coming and coming, rain, snow, or shine, eventually leads him to a love of books.

I love the gentle way that That Book Woman pays homage to the WPA Pack Horse Librarians of the 1930s.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

By Jeanette Winter,

Book cover of The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

Why this book?

This is the remarkable true story of Alia Muhammed Baker, a librarian in Basra, Iraq. When war threatened to destroy her library in 2003, Alia, who considered books “more precious than mountains of gold,” made the heroic effort to transfer 30,000 volumes to safe locations just days before her library was burned to the ground. Author/illustrator Jeanette Winter tells this story in a way that is not traumatizing to young children but also doesn’t sugarcoat the horrors of war. Ultimately, it is a triumphant celebration of books, of courage, and of the human spirit. 

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

By Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar (illustrator),

Book cover of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Why this book?

I love books that are both beautiful to look at and beautiful to read. Planting Stories is the gorgeously illustrated and delightfully told story of Pura Belpre’, New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. Belpre’ was also a puppeteer and a storyteller who charmed children and adults alike with stories of her homeland. 

Library Lion

By Michelle Knudsen, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Book cover of Library Lion

Why this book?

My grandchildren love this story about a loveable lion who shows up one day at Miss Merriweather’s library. Though he’s careful to follow the strict library rules, the day comes when he must help everyone understand that sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Featuring captivating illustrations by Kevin Hawkes, Library Lion is a joyous marriage of image and text. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in librarians, libraries, and New York State?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about librarians, libraries, and New York State.

Librarians Explore 22 books about librarians
Libraries Explore 35 books about libraries
New York State Explore 384 books about New York State

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey, The Strange Library, and Dear Librarian if you like this list.