From early on, we want to instill in our youngsters a love of the library. Happily, several picture books help us do this. Here are some of my favorite library-centric titles; in fact these all make me a bit weepy!
The Boy who was Raised by Librarians, by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed
Melvin spends lots of time at his local public library. He goes there every day after school and revels in its orderly systems and helpful reference librarians. They are there for him, day after day, feeding his curiosity and celebrating his successes. They can't help it, that's just how librarians are, he thinks.
And so over the years, through bug-collecting, spelling contests, and baseball card research, the three librarians do what they do best: nurture his growing mind. And he loves the library and he loves them. Even after he graduates from college, the bond remains...in a way that comes as a surprising full circle.
Why does this one tear me up? I guess it's the love the three librarians show to this youngster over so many years and through so many projects. They're fiction here, but I know they're based on real people in children's libraries connecting with children like this every day.
Illustrated in richly colored full-page paintings, with masterful use of perspective (child's eye view up to the desk, for example).
Library Lion, by Michelle Knudson, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
A lion saunters into a library and is allowed to stay, but only as long as he doesn't break any rules. Although the Head Librarian, Miss Merriweather, is tough, she recognizes that the library should be a place for ANYone, and a lion is no exception.
On his first visit, the lion discovers story hour and quickly becomes hooked. He shows up daily and begins to do odd jobs and make himself indispensable, and much loved.
But one day something happens that forces him to break a rule. He leaves the library without being asked, knowing the importance Miss Merriweather places on rule-following. It turns out, however, that there's something Miss Merriweather and her colleague Mr. MacBee value more than rules. And the way they arrive at this conclusion is so tender, it chokes me up every time.
Soft washed watercolors on tan pages and brown text give this story a timeless feel; good thing since it's bound to become a classic.
The Library, by Sarah Stewart
Told in rhyme, this tells the story of Mary Elizabeth Brown, an avid reader whose entire life revolved around having a book in her hand.
She reads constantly: while exercising, vacuuming, and grocery shopping. She reads instead of dating or dancing, preferring books to any other activity. When Elizabeth moves into her own house, she accumulates so many volumes in her lifetime that they block the doors and reach the ceiling. At this point, she donates her collection to the town, enough for a full public library.
The watercolor illustrations accompanying the poem absolutely make the story. They add a comic feel (such as when she walks into a door because her nose is stuck in a book). My favorite illustration shows her reading with a cup of tea, and there's a sticker of Snow White on her lampshade. And illustrator, David Small's use of layout is wonderful too; when her books begin to overtake her home, the pictures break out of their frames and take over the page.
It's Library Day (PreK 3/4)
Carlo, the Really Nice Librarian (PreK 4/K)
The Library Doors (Kinder/grade 1)
I. Q. Goes to the Library (Kinder/grade 1)
The Library Dragon (grade 1/2)
Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library! (grade 1/2)
No T-Rex in the Library (grade 1/2)
The Librarian from the Black Lagoon (grade 3/4)
And, upon completing this post, I happened upon a loooong list of library-related picture books on GoodReads. You can even vote for your favorite. I'm chuffed that my top three are also top three on that list!