Living in Portland, I’m definitely familiar with and spoiled by library love. Whether it’s the magnificent buildings of the Multnomah County Library, a bicycle-powered mobile library for the homeless, or mini lending libraries popping up all over the city, there are no shortages of access to books here. Because they are seemingly everywhere, it can be easy to take for granted this one of many (many, many) services libraries provide. In other countries, libraries can be rarities, which in turn means loss opportunities to enhance one’s mind, one’s self, and one’s community. Luckily, there are resourceful people who understand the power of books and are determined to reach these unserved populations.
“My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World” (2005) by Margriet Ruurs is a children’s non-fiction picture book that showcases the ingenuity of librarians, reading promoters, volunteers, and other literacy-minded individuals who do just that. From Australia to Zimbabwe, by boat, bus, camels, and practically any other mode of transportation you can think of, we see the value libraries bring to communities.
Recently you may have heard about Luis Soriano, a teacher who travels with his donkeys (Alfa and Beto) to bring books to children in his native Columbia. He was chosen as a CNN Hero in 2010 and the subject of a PBS documentary for his efforts. Last year alone, two children’s picture books were published about him and his Biblioburro or Donkey Library.
“My Librarian Is a Camel” introduced me to and reminded me of people like Luis Soriano who do these incredible things to ensure books get in the hands of children.
Other Noteworthy Non-fiction (or Based on True Stories) Children’s Picture Books about Libraries and Librarians (and Other People who Give out Books!)
*The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq- Jeanette Winter
*Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq: Inspired by a True Story- Mark Alan Stamaty
[The above two books are about Alia Muhammad Baker, an Iraqi librarian who saved the books in her country during wartime. You can read more about her here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/world/after-the-war-the-librarian-books-spirited-to-safety-before-iraq-library-fire.html ]
*Biblioburro- Jeanette Winter: A True Story from Colombia
*Waiting for the Biblioburro- Monica Brown
[The above two books are about Luis Soriano. More information about the documentary can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/pov/biblioburro/ ]