Books for the library, about the library

G. Aruna Kumar

I am a school librarian and here I share with you a list of my favourite books, books that have helped me excite my readers, books that have led to purposeful discussions, books that have aided in an understanding of books, libraries and librarians. While most books in my list may seem like those for young readers, they can entice and excite any generation of readers. Without further ado, here is my list.

During my initial days in the profession, an 8-year-old introduced me to this book and ever since it has remained one of my favorites– The girl who hated books. This beautifully illustrated book talks about Meena, whose parents buy her lots of books, but she hates reading. One day, while playing with her kitten, all her books fall down from the shelves and the characters from the different stories emerge out of the books and create a ruckus. In order to return the characters to their stories, Meena starts reading the books one by one. What happens later is anyone’s guess. I begin all my orientation programmes for young users of the library with this book. I always get a positive response from them.

The Librarian from the Black Lagoon— this book is an example of how we often accept a popular point of view without testing its authenticity ourselves. It talks about how people believe the library to be a scary place and the librarian a strict, no-nonsense individual. Towards the end of the book when the class finally enters the library, their opinion changes as they see a library totally different from what they imagined it to be.

This book based on a true story was introduced to me by my mentor. I instantly connected with the Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia. With colourful illustrations and pictures, this book is about Luis who uses donkeys to carry books to users in different villages in Colombia.

Librarian on the roof! A true story, is about how Rose Aleta Laurell, a librarian, collected funds for a children’s section of the library. This book too has amazing illustrations, which will help young readers understand the plight of libraries and learn about the efforts of people trying their best to bring libraries to the community.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq is another book that talks about the efforts of a librarian (Alia Muhammad Baker) to save books during war time (2003) in Iraq.

A story that tells readers about the usually prevalent rules in a library and how they are not rigid but can be changed. Library Lion, is the story of a lion who enters a library one day and starts spending time in the library, helping the librarian in the day-to-day chores. One day due to an unusual situation, the lion breaks the rule of ‘silence’ in the library by roaring aloud. Saddened that he broke the rule, the lion stops visiting the library. The librarian starts missing the lion in the library and changes the ‘silence’ rule, thereby helping the lion return. With colourful illustrations and  an interesting story, young readers will enjoy this book.

The Night Library is a story of a boy who enjoyed his grandfather’s stories. When his parents bring him a book as a present, he is reluctant to open it. That night, a lion comes to him and takes him to a library, which brings back memories of the stories he once enjoyed. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds a library card near his bedroom door. A good story that will allow us to discuss the importance of stories while growing up.

Tomás and the Library Lady, is based on the life of Tomas Rivera, whose family, as migrants, moves to different places and how a librarian helps Tomas inculcate the reading habit. Years later, Tomas becomes an academic and serves in various capacities in the educational field.

My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are brought to children around the World, talks about libraries around the world. With pictures and factsheets, the book gives information about libraries in different countries.

Next, is a picture book with a cat as a protagonist, who helps us understand the library– what happens in the library, users reading, books that one can find there, etc. It’s a tour of the library. The name of the book, Pete the cat: Checks out the library.

The final book on my list is about libraries themselves. Spaceship to the Universe: The Story of Libraries. This book deals with the history of libraries, types of libraries and how libraries served the community during the COVID pandemic, how libraries have been destroyed, about librarians who put in their all to save books, library classification, what the future will mean for libraries with technological advancements. A short introduction to all and more of libraries is helpful for older readers who are curious about libraries.

Hope this short list helps educators. Do add to this list and send it to me so I have more interesting books that I can share with my readers.

The author is a librarian at CHIREC International school, Hyderabad.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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