87 books like Digging for Words

By Angela Burke Kunkel, Paola Escobar,

Here are 87 books that Digging for Words fans have personally recommended if you like Digging for Words. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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By Yuyi Morales,

Book cover of Dreamers

Hollis Kurman Author Of Counting Kindness: Ten Ways to Welcome Refugee Children

From the list on sparking conversations about refugees.

Who am I?

The refugee story is deeply rooted in my family, as my (great-/) grandparents fled Europe for a safer life in America. I grew up listening to their stories of escape and trying to integrate in their new land. Human rights were also a focus of my graduate studies – and later in founding the Human Rights Watch Committee NL and joining the Save the Children Board of Trustees. I am a writer and poet, Board member, and former strategy consultant who always wanted to write refugee stories for children. Their stories are difficult. But children should understand that although the world is not always safe or fair, there is always hope.

Hollis' book list on sparking conversations about refugees

Why did Hollis love this book?

A non-fiction picture book that reads like poetry, this gorgeous book describes the author’s own journey from Mexico to the U.S. with her young son. The illustrations are as poetic as the language, which infuses English with Spanish words, simple words with more challenging ones, and words of pain with those of pride, resilience, and creativity. The book explores not only the refugee’s journey, but also, and most especially, the challenges and small victories of integrating and trying to make a new life in a new land. I also love the central role that books, words, and libraries play in paving the way toward this new life. Language is power, but it is also magic.

By Yuyi Morales,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dreamers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We are resilience. We are hope. We are dreamers.
Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.

Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It's the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it's a promise that…

Hands Around the Library

By Karen Leggett Abouraya, Susan L. Roth (illustrator),

Book cover of Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books

Christy Mihaly Author Of Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means

From the list on children's books for human rights and civic engagement.

Who am I?

I practiced law for more than twenty years before becoming an author. After writing several children's science books, in 2016 I turned to writing about civics and government. The internet was overflowing with politicians' misstatements about the Constitution, and I realized many Americans didn't understand fundamental democratic principles. I decided to write a book addressing kids, to help them appreciate their rights, obligations, and powers under the Constitution. In Free for You and Me, I focused on the First Amendment. I believe that talking with young people about the issues raised in all the books listed here will help us raise our kids to be informed and engaged community members.

Christy's book list on children's books for human rights and civic engagement

Why did Christy love this book?

This is a wonderful, uplifting story that provides a springboard for conversations about how governments don't all give their people the same rights. It showcases an incident during the pro-democracy demonstrations of the Arab Spring of 2011 in Egypt. As a bonus, this book also celebrates the tremendous value of libraries. It tells the stirring (and true) tale of people of all stripes joining hands to defend the great library of Alexandria against possible damage during the unrest.

As with the other recommended books, children are a key part of the story's action. The narration is kid-friendly and engaging and the collage-style illustrations are bright and bouyant. Finally, the back matter will intrigue readers with photographs of the library's light-filled interiors, as well as photos of the dramatic defense of the library during the demonstrations.

By Karen Leggett Abouraya, Susan L. Roth (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hands Around the Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiring true story of demonstrators standing up for the love of a library, from a New York Times bestselling illustrator

In January 2011, in a moment that captured the hearts of people all over the world, thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and demonstrators surrounded the great Library of Alexandria and joined hands, forming a human chain to protect the building. They chanted "We love you, Egypt!" as they stood together for the freedom the library represented.

Illustrated with Susan L. Roth's stunning collages, this amazing true story demonstrates how the love of books and libraries can unite a…


By Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velasquez (illustrator),

Book cover of Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Viviane Elbee Author Of I Want My Book Back

From the list on the magic of libraries.

Who am I?

I've loved books and reading from an early age. My family and I go to the library nearly every week to check out books, do research, or attend library programs like storytime. My interest in libraries led me to read books about libraries and write one of my own. I’m a children’s book author living in North Carolina with my husband and two book-devouring kids. I Want My Book Back is my second book, following my debut, Teach Your Giraffe to Ski. When I’m not reading or writing, I like hanging out with my family, being outdoors, and going on everyday adventures.

Viviane's book list on the magic of libraries

Why did Viviane love this book?

As my kids are getting older, I keep my eyes open for longer, more complex picture books – and this book attracted my attention. It’s a great non-fiction biography for kids who like learning about notable historical personalities. It took roughly 45 minutes to read this book with the kids, and we all learned so much about Schomburg and his quest to collect literature by and about people of African descent worldwide. One thing that really impressed the kids and me was how he managed to keep this humongous collection in his home. (The kids and I were wondering if the whole family was sleeping on books instead of beds)!

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velasquez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Schomburg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In luminous paintings and arresting poems, two of children’s literature’s top African-American scholars track Arturo Schomburg’s quest to correct history.

Where is our historian to give us our side? Arturo asked.

Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny),…

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

By Alexis O'Neill, Edwin Fotheringham (illustrator),

Book cover of The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

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

From the list on children’s books for library lovers.

Who am I?

When I was ten, my mom gave me an entire day to do anything I wanted. I chose to spend the day at the library. To me, the library was a place of refuge, of adventure, of possibility. As an adult, I lived abroad, often in countries without free public libraries. I missed libraries! Today I’m a library trustee for my county library system, working to make our public library accessible to everyone. It was a joy to write about Pura Belpré, a librarian who was working 100 years ago to make sure libraries belonged to the entire community.  

Annette's book list on children’s books for library lovers

Why did Annette love 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.

By Alexis O'Neill, Edwin Fotheringham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year

Who was Melvil Dewey? Learn how Dewey's love of organization and words drove him to develop and implement his Dewey Decimal system, leaving a significant and lasting impact in libraries across the country.

When Melvil Dewey realized every library organized their books differently, he wondered if he could invent a system all libraries could use to organize them efficiently. A rat-a-tat speaker, Melvil was a persistent (and noisy) advocate for free public libraries. And while he made enemies along the way as he pushed for changes-like his battle to establish…

One Plastic Bag

By Miranda Paul, Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator),

Book cover of One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

Patricia Newman Author Of A River's Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn

From the list on conservation that give readers hope.

Who am I?

I write nonfiction books for children and teens that focus on current environmental stories. But environmental headlines are usually gloomy and filled with foreboding, so, I prefer to focus on stories that involve individuals identifying an environmental problem and working to develop a solution – hence this list of happy conservation stories. The stories in this list – and many others are the antidote to the headlines. They are the hope. They show human ingenuity at its most creative, most flexible, and most caring. Happy conservation stories empower kids, teens, and adults to care about the role they play in nature and unite them in action. 

Patricia's book list on conservation that give readers hope

Why did Patricia love this book?

I love stories of positive change. They give me hope that humans can see themselves as part of nature rather than apart from it.

One Plastic Bag is special because it focuses on how one person addressed the problem of plastic pollution and instituted change with small steps that created a big impact. If we are to coexist with nature, we must realize each of us have something to contribute.

By Miranda Paul, Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One Plastic Bag as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock…

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Eric-Shabazz Larkin (illustrator),

Book cover of Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Katherine Pryor Author Of Zora's Zucchini

From the list on to help kids like vegetables and one fruit.

Who am I?

Katherine Pryor is the award-winning author of several picture books about food and gardens. In addition to writing, she has worked to create better food choices at institutions, corporations, and food banks. She gardens with her young twins at their home on an island in northwest Washington. 

Katherine's book list on to help kids like vegetables and one fruit

Why did Katherine love this book?

When former basketball star Will Allen notices a problem in his community—too many abandoned lots and not enough fresh food—he sees opportunity. This biography tells the story of Will Allen’s inspirational journey to create urban farms that heal both the land and the people harvesting and eating the bounty. Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table is the perfect book to talk to kids about how there is often more than one way to solve a problem and get them excited about growing their own fresh food. Plus, any picture book that includes worms is a picture book I want to read with my kids—and worms play a starring role in Will Allen’s vision.

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Eric-Shabazz Larkin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage--or a basketball--in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world.

No space, no problem. Poor soil, there's a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one for his innovative urban farming methods,…

The Tree Lady

By H. Joseph Hopkins, Jill McElmurry (illustrator),

Book cover of The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

Irene Latham Author Of The Cat Man of Aleppo

From the list on The best children's picture books about ordinary people who change the world.

Who am I?

So often when things are going wrong in the world—war, natural disasters, pollution, poverty, disease—I feel really overwhelmed, and sometimes hopeless. That's when I seek out stories like these, about ordinary people (like me!) doing extraordinary, heroic things. It inspires me simply knowing these people exist, and it empowers me to do something—just one small act can snowball and generate terrific change. I, too, can help create goodness in the world by paying attention, giving my time and other resources, and joining with others. For every heartbreaking news story, there's a beautiful one waiting to happen. Every one of us has the potential to be a hero.

Irene's book list on The best children's picture books about ordinary people who change the world

Why did Irene love this book?

The city of San Diego, California, is lush and leafy now in large part due to the efforts of tree-loving Kate Sessions, who in the early 1900s missed the redwood forests of her childhood when she relocated to dry, dusty San Diego. A scientist and naturalist, she procured seeds from experts far and wide to find species that might thrive in San Diego—and she started planting. She used the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park as a reason to plant thousands more trees that residents, wildlife, and visitors enjoy to this day. No one told Kate to plant all those trees; she did it because she wanted to make the world a brighter, more beautiful place.

By H. Joseph Hopkins, Jill McElmurry (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tree Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.

Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees.…

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

By William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator)

Book cover of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Christine Ieronimo Author Of A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World

From the list on stories from Africa with strong protagonists.

Who am I?

I am passionate about writing books for children that create windows to the world, teaching empathy. Children that are empathic grow up to be kind and compassionate adults. I write because I long for a world that is more accepting and compassionate.  

Christine's book list on stories from Africa with strong protagonists

Why did Christine love this book?

Drought has hit a Malawi village and everyone’s crops are failing. Fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba figures out how to bring electricity to the village by building a windmill out of scraps from a junkyard. I love this story because it highlights the importance of education, and along with determination, William was able to build this windmill bringing electricity which helped lift this community up and bring hope. Education is the best way to lift communities up from poverty. Elizabeth Zunon provides gorgeous illustrations that enhance the text.  

By William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, Elizabeth Zunon (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land. Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows…

Waiting for the Biblioburro

By Monica Brown, John Parra (illustrator),

Book cover of Waiting for the Biblioburro

Laura Resau Author Of Stand as Tall as the Trees: How an Amazonian Community Protected the Rain Forest

From the list on children’s pictures set in South America.

Who am I?

I feel passionate about spreading the word about all the fantastic children’s literature set in South America. As an author and a multilingual mom whose son enjoys learning about his Latin American heritage, I’ve always brought home stacks of picture books—in Spanish and English—that celebrate Latin American cultures and settings. I’ve loved traveling to the Andes mountains and the Amazon rain forest as part of my children’s book collaborations with Indigenous women in those regions. Most of all, I love transporting young readers to these inspiring places through story.

Laura's book list on children’s pictures set in South America

Why did Laura love this book?

Here we have another inspiring book based on the true story of a passionate librarian in Colombia, only this one takes place in remote villages.

Ana is an imaginative girl who treasures her only book, and feels enchanted when she meets Luis Soriano Bohórquez with his burros, bringing books to the countryside. The books she borrows transport her and inspire her to write a tale about the librarian and his burros.

The ending comes full circle when the librarian packs Ana’s book onto the burro and brings it to another village to inspire another child. This reminds us of the magic and power of books!

By Monica Brown, John Parra (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Waiting for the Biblioburro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ana loves stories. She often makes them up to help her little brother fall asleep. But in her small village there are only a few books and she has read them all. One morning, Ana wakes up to the clip-clop of hooves, and there before her, is the most wonderful sight: a traveling library resting on the backs of two burros‑all the books a little girl could dream of, with enough stories to encourage her to create one of her own.
Inspired by the heroic efforts of real-life librarian Luis Soriano, award-winning picture book creators Monica Brown and John Parra…

The Rabbit Listened

By Cori Doerrfeld,

Book cover of The Rabbit Listened

Dan Saks Author Of We Share This School: A Community Book

From the list on proving humans are more creative than AI.

Who am I?

I make music. I write books. I’m drawn to scenarios in which people make music or books or art collaboratively, often spontaneously. I enjoy making music with kids because of how they can be creative spontaneously. Sometimes adults pretend to be creative in a way that a child might relate to, but a child can generally sniff out a pretender. And a pretend pretender can be unpleasant company for children and adults alike. These books were written by adults who know their inner child. Wonder, play and a tangential regard for social norms are their baseline to share the stories they’ve chosen to share.

Dan's book list on proving humans are more creative than AI

Why did Dan love this book?

Simple drawings, simple text, nails the moral with an absolute gut punch that feels just right. It’s got expert pacing! It’s got animals!

This book has won a million awards for a reason. The plot? Taylor builds a thing with blocks. It gets knocked down. Different animals present different strategies for coping, but ultimately Taylor just needed someone to listen to him. Enter rabbit.

So simple! And sooooo human. AI wishes it could distill an essential human experience like this. But it can’t - yet - I don’t think. So prbtrbrtb.

By Cori Doerrfeld,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Rabbit Listened as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss. When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs. Whether…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in libraries, Colombia, and South America?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about libraries, Colombia, and South America.

Libraries Explore 49 books about libraries
Colombia Explore 31 books about Colombia
South America Explore 36 books about South America