These eight picture books by librarians will definitely have you feeling the library love. Many children’s librarians are trained storytellers with a feel for language and a strong understanding of what details make a story immersive and enjoyable. As Betsy Hearne wrote about children’s librarians: “We, even more than teachers or parents, pass on the kind of stories that children used to hear told beside home fires and now, if they’re lucky, hear told in story hours or read at bedtime.” These books are great examples of that skill.
An additional note: on Book Riot, we do our best to actively promote diversity in books and publishing. This list features very few authors and illustrators of color because I wasn’t able to find many, but please tweet @LibraryRachelR if you, dear readers, know of any that I missed. I’d love recommendations.
Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins and Zachariah OHora
This is a fantastic book about exploring where you live, sure to capture everyone’s attention with its twists, turns, and witty, vibrant illustrations. Maurice and Lotta live in the same neighborhood and have a lot in common, but they don’t know each other yet. Finally, though, thanks to a discarded lemon peel and an errant stick, they’ll have the opportunity to meet. Also, watch Higgins’s charming reading of the book on YouTube—it is librarian-tastic, with lots of great asides and interactive questions.
When the Babies Came to Stay by Christine McDonnell and Jeanette Bradley
Four children are left mysteriously on a small island, with no clues other than notes asking that they be taken care of. Found by the harbormaster, the ferryman, and a fisherman, they are taken in by the local librarian. With the help of her neighbors, she raises the children and gives them a loving home. McDonnell has written ten books for kids and this is her latest, an ode to community and making your own family. Plus: librarian hero!
Double Happiness by Nancy Tupper Ling and Alina Chau
Gracie and Jake are moving away from San Francisco and feeling pretty sad about it—especially because they will be leaving their Nai Nai (grandmother) behind. What can they do? Well, the siblings will fill their empty boxes with some of their favorite things so that they won’t forget. This is a beautiful, poetic book about moving and coping with transitions.
David Jumps in By Allen Woo and Katty Maurey
David is nervous about his first day at a new school, but he heads into it with a pocket full of elastic bands twined together for a game of elastic skip. This quiet, gentle story about friendship will be relatable to shy kids everywhere.
Edward Gets Messy by Rita Meade and Olga Stern
Edward the pig likes everything a certain way and hates dirt and grime. Being clean makes him happy—or does it? He doesn’t eat certain things, doesn’t play certain ways…maybe it’s time for him to try something new. The story is fun and (former Rioter) Meade’s story uses repetition to grab readers, while Stern’s adorable art will have kids smiling.
Lone Wolf by Sarah Kurpiel
A sweet book about a husky named Maple. People always mistake her for a wolf, so after a while she starts to question who she is and decides to spend some time in the woods to figure it out. Along with Kurpiel’s cute, self-aware illustrations, Maple’s story is an easy read with a nice message about family and self-confidence.
Pérez and Martina by Pura Belpré and Carlos Sánchez
I’ve written about Pura Belpré before—she was New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian. In Peréz and Martina, she introduces readers to the story of Martina, a Spanish cockroach, and Peréz, a dashing mouse. Martina is a total babe, turning down suitors left, right, and center, until handsome Peréz comes a-knocking and she agrees to marry him. At first it seems like they’ll be happy together, but—well, you probably won’t forget the ending.
Library Lion by Michelle Knudson and Kevin Hawkes
I am a sucker for a library-based picture book and this one is very much a classic. Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, always follows the rules of the library. One day, a lion turns up in the library and no one is sure what to do—after all, there are no specific rules for or against lions in the library. It seems like this lion is a good fit for the library; using his tail to dust and his body as a stepping stool for kids, he fits right in. Don’t try this at home, but it’s gorgeously illustrated and full of great storytelling details. If you want to hear it as well as see it, Storyline Online has a great version here.
There you go, eight delightful books by librarian authors to keep on your shelf.