Librarians in Children’s Books Who Change Lives
UPDATE: It seems that our beloved librarians are under siege due to draconian budget cuts in California. Why do we need librarians? There is a great article here from The Los Angeles Times. [excerpt: “To get them off the payroll, the district is arguing that librarians don’t teach and thus don’t qualify for the seniority protections given to teachers.”]
If your school librarian is in danger of being cut, I would advise strength in numbers and advocacy. Rally other parents and make a big stink. Do your research and present your case. You’d be surprised how a group of fired up parents can change the world!
Librarians are amazing people and it’s time they are recognized for their super hero qualities: an encyclopedic knowledge of everything, ability to open doors to new worlds, cultures and civilizations, and finally the keeper of a safe and inclusive sanctuary. In this way, librarians change lives and make the world a better place. Hooray for librarians… the unsung heroes of our communities! These super hero librarians featured on the Top 10 list live in books, but yours is at your local library! Please help me update my list with your favorite books!
Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco
A cautionary but fun tale about the town of Triple Creek where they are so wired on TV that they forget to read; not just to read books but actually how to read. Aunt Chip comes to the rescue and pulls the plug on the town dam which is built out of books.
Thank you to reader Miss Rachel SF for this great suggestion!
The Library by Sarah Stewart
Thank you to the person who told me about The Library on Twitter. I’m sorry but I failed to save that tweet but you know who you are. Because we loved The Gardener so much by Sarah Stewart, I rushed out and bought The Library. Mary Elizabeth Brown is the real life person who inspired this story. A bookworm her whole life, Elizabeth Brown, in this rhyming story, reads all day and night, as a child and then into adulthood. As she grows older, her house becomes so full of books that she donates it and all her books as a town library!
There is a great interview of Monica Brown at one of my favorite blogs, PaperTigers.
Biblioburro: A True Story from Columbia by Jeanette Winter
I also learned about this book through PaperTigers.
The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez and Lulu Delacre
Thank you to PaperTigers.org for this suggestion. Their review is here.
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Susan Condi Lamb
My friend from KidLitCon, The Fourth Musketeer, has a wonderful blog on Historical Fiction and I read every post of hers! She turned me on to this book about a wonderful librarian who started a library because there was none in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She highly recommends this non fiction historical fiction book! [picture book, ages 6-9]
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
I love this book. It’s about a librarian who follows her dreams and her heart to make a difference. [picture book, ages 5-9]
10. Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
Tomas’ parents are itinerant farm workers and while he is eager to go to the library, he is intimidated. But the library lady is kind; she gives Tomas a drink of cool water, books on dinosaurs and tigers and even lets him take out books using her library card. He returns day after day and she gets him to teach her Spanish. When he leaves to return home, the library lady has a gift for him, a shiny new book. This is the true story of Tomas Rivera, who went on to become the chancellor of the University of California, Riverside…all because of this kind, unnamed library lady in Iowa many, many years ago. [picture book for ages 5-8]
9. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn.
Lola’s weekly trip to the library is the thing she most likes to do. Not only is it special time with her mommy, but she loves all the special things at the library from sing-alongs to story time to choosing out books. [picture book for ages 1-4]
8. Library Lil by Suzanne Williams.
Library Lil loves books but can she get the towns folks of Chesterville to shut off the TV? A storm that shuts down the electricity gives Library Lil the chance to get everyone reading, but just as she is making progress, Bust-Em-Up Bill and his gang roar into town and it’s well-known that he hates books. What will Library Lil do? [picture book for ages 4-7]
7. Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book by Alexander Stadler.
Beverly Billingsly goes to the library every Tuesday but this week is special because she is able to get her own library card. She loves her book, Dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period, so much that she accidentally forgets to return it on time. Beverly gets pretty worried about it, so much so that her stomach is in a knot and she can’t eat chocolate cake. But the librarian, Ms. Del Rubio, is so nice; no overdue fees for just two days! AND she introduces Beverly to a new kid who is in her grade who also loves Dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period. And that is how the Peidmont Dinosaur Club began…all due to a super hero librarian who knows who likes what books and is in what grade at what school! Whew! [picture book for ages 3-6]
6. The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg
Miss Seevers, the librarian, helps Louis with his pet troubles. She figures out that Alphonse, his pet, is a Loch Ness Monster. She has a great idea for raising money so that Louis can buy the parking lot next to his apartment building to build a pool for Alphonse to live in. Who but a librarian would know about an ancient shipwreck filled with treasure AND that Alphonse would be capable of retrieving it? Only a super hero librarian! And might I add that Miss Seevers was not even working at the library when she did all this! This was all on her own time! Super hero stuff!!! [picture book, ages 3-6]
5. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
Sam Gribley wants to live off the land on the old Gribley homestead that hasn’t been farmed for a hundred years. Trouble is, he can’t locate it. Miss Turner, the librarian, opens the library early to help him. She not only locates it for him (super hero detection skills) but she’s the first one who believes him. Wisely, she also suggests books on edible plants and animals. Like librarians in the real world that provide part of the safety net in a community to ensure that children don’t fall through the cracks, Miss Turner is the one person who lives in civilization that Sam can count on and turn to. [chapter book for ages 8-12]
4. Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.
Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, allows a lion to enjoy the library because he’s following the rules; he’s not running or making a lot of noise. Not everyone is so tolerant of the lion in the library. But one day, when the lion breaks the rules to help Miss Merriweather when she’s in trouble, she makes a new rule: it’s ok to break the rules to help someone. [picture book for ages 3-6]
3. Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown.
Molly McGrew can get anyone reading, even the animals at the zoo. A loving homage to Dr. Seuss by two great children’s authors, Judy Sierra and Marc Brown. [picture book for ages 2-6]
2. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
When Miss Franny Block was a little girl, she wanted a library for her birthday and that is how the Herman W. Block Memorial Library came to be. But Miss Franny doesn’t just connect kids with great books, she’s created a little sanctuary. With her kind heart and riveting tales of her past, she is able to take two lonely and grieving little girls and connect them such that their new friendship will help to heal them both. A Newbury Honor book and truly one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. [chapter book for ages 8-12]
1. The All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.
Miss Allen is the nicest librarian in the world. When Sarah loses her book and has to pay for it, Miss Allen lets her have an installment plan because she knows that the cost of a book is a lot of money for Sarah and her family. One good turn deserves another, and who would ever guess what the sisters end up doing, unknowingly, for Miss Allen? They say that with karma, a good deed gets paid back ten-fold and this is certainly the case. [chapter book for ages 8-12]
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