Library Lions – 6 pictures books about libraries around the world


I recently visited New York city. The highlight of our trip was a stop at the New York Public Library. I was thrilled to finally meet the famous lion sculptures. Edward Clark Potter’s lions have stood proudly at the entrance of the New York Public Library since it’s opening in 1911. Their names have changed however. They were first nicknamed Lady Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, during the 1930s, the mayor changed their names to Patience and Fortitude, qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time.

The New York Public Library itself is worth a visit, if you are in New York. The Rose Reading room with its vaulted ceiling and rich decorations, paintings and murals is nearly the length of a football field. The children’s department also features the lions, made entirely out of legos, as well as the original stuffed animals that inspired the Winnie-The-Pooh stories.

I love to visit libraries when I am on a trip. We also recently visited San Antonio (a 3 hour drive from our new home in Waco, TX). The San Antonio Central Public library is so different from the one in New York. The Mexican Modernist enchilada-red building features multiple angular geometric shapes, plazas, water fountains and playful architectural details. People tended to love it — or to hate it. It was recently named one of 27 most fascinating libraries in the world. What do you think? Love it or hate it?

Many of you have told me that one of the things you miss the most about living in the US is your local library, and your weekly trips there to stock up on books. Today, as a tribute to libraries and librarians everywhere, I want to share with you some books about libraries. The first one, Library Lion, was inspired by the New York Public Library lions:


Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Genre: Fiction

Age Level: 6-9

Inspired by the lion statues at the New York Public Library, Library Lion tells the tale of a real life lion who wanders into the public library one day, and nestles himself into the life and hearts of the children and even the staff. But there are rules in libraries and when the lion breaks a rule, he knows he will not be allowed to return, or will he? A New York Times bestseller, this gentle, cozy tale, with warm, and evocative illustrations is sure to become a favorite.



Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Genre: Fiction

Age Level: 2-5

Lola loves Tuesdays. Tuesday is the day Lola and her mother visit the library. This preschool picture book featuring an African-American girl, is filled with bright and colorful illustrations and is a great way to instill the love of books and reading in your child


My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the Worldby Margriet Ruurs

Genre: Nonfiction

Age Level: 6-9

In this fascinating picture book filled with photos, maps and fun facts, we learn about the many different ways that books are housed and shared around the world. This book includes libraries in 13 different countries. A multicultural book perfect for third culture kids who love books.



The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq by Jeanette Winter

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Age Level: 6-9

This is a great picture book about a librarian who saves books from the library of Basra from destruction during the war in Iraq. She moves over 30,000 books to a neighboring restaurant just in time before the library bursts into flames. The books are safe and Alia can only wait and dream of a new library where once again the people of Basra can come to read, learn and share ideas. The simple drawings, with a mix of bright colors, filled with details of war and Middle Eastern culture, brings this dramatic and heroic story to life.


Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raul Colón

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

Age Level: 6-9

Tomas, and his family are migrant workers. They must travel from California to Iowa to pick fruit. In Iowa, Tomas is lonely. At the urging of his grandfather, Tomas visits the local library to gather more stories for their evenings around the fire. There he meets a young librarian who not only shares books, but a cool glass of water, and a quiet place to read, as well as encouragement and friendship. This story is inspired by the life of writer and educator, Tomas Rivera. This is a tribute to all librarians out there who quietly share their love of reading and impact the lives of children.




Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra

In this colorful picture book, we learn about a little girl in a remote village in South America who loves to read, but only owns one book. One day, a man arrives with his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, loaded with books. He’s a traveling librarian. Ana is so excited to borrow books to read. While waiting for him to return weeks later, she decides to write a story of her own. The librarian returns, shares her story with the other village children and takes her book with him so other children can read it too. The book includes words in Spanish. At the back, there is a glossary of Spanish words as well as the true story of a librarian in Colombia that this book is inspired by.


A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

E.B. White

What is your local library like? Please share with us in the comments.


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