This is a list of nearly 20 picture books that teach the value of the library and/or reading. Each of these is highly recommended by myself, a children's librarian. I have included full page spreads, plots, and comments to help you choose your favorites!
The Not So Quiet Library (Zachariah Ohora)
Oskar and Theodore are excited to share a quiet Saturday at the library, when all the sudden they are interrupted by a noisy five-headed monster! It seems the monster thought the library was a buffet, but the books don't taste so good. Oskar and Theodore will have to team up with the librarian, Ms. Watson, to restore quiet in the library.
The Library Book (Tom Chapin & Michael Mark)
This is easily one of the cutest books I have read in a while. A little girl is bored, so she decides to take a trip to the library to pick out some books. There are several cameos by popular book characters, including Winnie the Pooh, Babar, and the Cat in the Hat. It reads like a song with a chorus and each time more and more characters join in. The musical arrangement is included in the front of the book.
The Book Hog (Greg Pizzoli)
The Book Hog loves to read, but he has a big secret: he doesn't actually know how to read. He just checks out the books and looks at the pictures! One day, an observant librarian named Miss Olive invites the Book Hog to storytime and offers to teach him to read. The Book Hog is overjoyed, of course, and he finally gets to love books for more than the pictures. Also, I gotta say, I love Pizzoli's eye-catching artwork.
Bunny's Book Club (Annie Silvestro)
Bunny loves sunny days when the librarian brings the kids out for storytime. But when the weather gets colder and storytimes move inside, Bunny will have to find a new way to enjoy books. He hatches a plan to sneak into the library and collect books for his very own wilderness book club! I love the lengths that Bunny and his forest friends are willing to go to for a good book. The whimsical illustrations are also some of the most beautiful I've seen!
Book, Book, Book! (Deborah Bruss)
The farm animals are bored, so they take a trip to the library in search of some fun books to read. A problem arises when the librarian cannot understand their animal noises. Will any of the animals be able to make their wishes known? This book is sure to impress both children and adults at storytime, thanks to the various animal noises and fun puns!
Carlo and the Really Nice Librarian (Jessica Spanyol)
Carlo visits the new library and is delighted by everything he sees, but the librarian, Mrs. Chinca, is a bit scary at first. After spending some time reading with Mrs. Chinca, Carlo has a renewed enthusiasm for the library and learns not to judge a "book" by its cover.
The Midnight Library (Kazuno Kohara)
I really love the Halloween-ish vibe of Kohara's books. This one is about a library that only opens late at night. The animal patrons keep causing different problems, so the adorable little librarian runs around to try to solve them (there is a happy ending)!
Otto the Book Bear (Katie Cleminson)
This is one of those books that will awaken a child's imagination! Otto is a bear who lives in a book, but when no one is looking he comes to life! He decides to visit the city, but doesn't like it much there. Then, he stumbles upon a library and finds out that there are lots of characters like him roaming around!
Our Library (Eve Bunting)
When the librarian, Miss Goose, informs a group of young critters that the library will be closing down, they make it their mission to ensure that doesn't happen. They find everything they need to solve Miss Goose's various problems using the books in the library. This one celebrates the library as a limitless source of knowledge and asset to a community. The very specific titles they check out also made me chuckle!
I am a Story (Dan Yaccarino)
This interesting and original book takes us on a journey through the history of stories. It begins with verbal stories and pictures painted on cave walls, takes us to the printer press, the invention of public libraries, and beyond. I love that the first page shows cavemen telling stories around the fire, while the last one shows a modern family doing the same thing. It shows that the charm and importance of stories has never changed.
Dog Loves Books (Louise Yates)
Dog loves books so much that he decides to open his own bookstore. It's the grand opening, but no one comes... Dog feels dejected, but that quickly changes when he takes a book down from the shelf. He is whisked away to one exciting adventure after another, until something distracts him...a customer! This book shows that a good story can be the best medicine and that sharing a story can be even better.
Hooray For Books! (Brian Won)
Turtle cannot find his favorite book everywhere. Maybe he left it with Zebra! But Zebra doesn't have it...so who does? Turtle goes from friend to friend searching for his book until he finally finds it. After rereading it a few times, Turtle gets an idea: a big friendship storytime where all the animals can share their favorite books. I love how incredibly excited Turtle and the other animals get for reading and that the first thing they want to do after reading a good one is to share it with others.
The New Libearian (Alison Donald)
It's time for storytime but the librarian, Ms. Merryweather, is missing! The kids search for her and discover she has been replaced by a bear. Will the new liBEARian be any good? What happened to Ms. Merryweather? This book is full of fun twists. Make sure the kids know the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", as that will be important to get some of the jokes.
Library Lion (Michelle Knudsen)
The head librarian, Miss Merriweather, is very particular about library rules. When a lion begins visiting the library, he is well received by the kids, but not Miss Merriweather. Lion does his best to follow all the rules, but one day when there is a terrible accident he learns that he may have to break some of these rules to save the day. This book teaches us about the value of libraries and rules that libraries generally enforce, but we also learn that there are certain situations which may call for rule breaking and again, not to judge a "book" by its cover, as the lion turns out to be a gentle giant!
Lola Loves Stories (Anna McQuinn)
Lola and her dad go to the library on Saturdays. They check out books to read together, which inspire Lola to imagine herself in various fantasy scenarios. I love that this book highlights the importance of reading with your child. It also shows that reading helps develop a child's imagination and creativity. This book is also available in Spanish!
Lola at the Library (Anna McQuinn)
Every Tuesday, Lola and her mother go to the library (yes, she goes twice a week). Lola visits the children's section and attends storytime. She also learns all the sign language to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"! This one captures the charm of visiting the library. It is also available in Spanish, as shown in the second picture.
Llama Llama Loves to Read (Anna Dewdney)
Llama Llama is learning to read! He learns just like any child with, starting with the alphabet, working his way up to sight words and sounding out, reading sentences, and finally reading books! He is proud to become a reader and tell his mother about his new "magic power." I love that this book captures the process of learning to read and shows Llama Llama facing a couple challenges on the way. Dewdney does an excellent job of capturing the wander children feel when they are first able to recognize words and read them to others.
A Library Book For Bear (Bonny Becker)
Bear's friend, Mouse, drags him to the library, much to his displeasure. Why would Bear need to check-out books when he has all the books he needs at home? This one is great for storytime, as you can really have fun with different accents and volume levels. The humor appeals to both children and adults. I also like the lesson of being open-minded.
But Excuse Me That is My Book (Lauren Child)
Speaking of fun with accents, have you seen the show Charlie and Lola? This brother and sister duo has the sweetish British accents. In this book, Charlie and Lola head to library to pick up Lola's favorite book, but it is nowhere to be found! Lola is upset, so Charlie tries to convince her to try some different books. Many children get stuck on sticking to their favorite things, so this is another great reminder to have an open mind at the library.
Maisy Goes to the Library (Lucy Cousins)
Maisy Mouse is another favorite cartoon character of mine. In this first experience book, she visits the library to find a book about fish. We learn about the different things to do in the library, including storytime! Maisy's friends all enjoy the storytime book so much that they go outside and pretend they are the characters. This one is a great introduction book for young kids, plus I've always been a fan of Cousin's bold illustrations!
Corduroy Goes to the Library (Don Freeman)
Another beloved children's book character, Corduroy the teddy bear, visits the library and partakes in a fun farm animal storytime. This is a lift-the-flap book, so I would recommend this for one-on-one or very small groups. I loved that this one was interactive and it gives a lot of information about library services and what to expect.
Waiting for the Biblioburro (Monica Brown)
This book has the Spanish translation under the English passage. A librarian brings his traveling library (on a donkey, rather than a bookmobile) to the town of a girl named Ana. Ana and her brother enjoy the new stories they borrow and wait in anticipation for the Biblioburro to return. This story focuses on how books can bring joy and exercise the imagination. It shows the importance of traveling libraries, as some communities do not have library buildings nearby. A great one for any bookmobile!
Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies (Carmen Oliver)
What animal would make the best reading buddy? Adelaide argues that bears do and has several arguments to back up this claim (and it seems that they might, given how many bear books there are in this list). At first, her teacher is horrified at the thought of Adelaide bringing a bear into the classroom, but Adelaide is able to persuade her.
Mousie, I Will Read To You (Rachael Cole)
This book made my eyes water and my voice crack, so I won't be reading it for storytime (but maybe you aren't as fragile as I am). A father mouse has a baby and begins to read him stories. We see the mouse grow and how his relationship with words and love for books grows too. In the end, the little mouse is all grown up and reads the same book his father read to him to his own baby.
Bats at the Library (Brian Lies)
Lies has several of these bats books and they are pretty popular at my library. The rhyming text makes them fun to read, though the length makes it best for about 4 years and up. In this story, the bats are bored one night when they notice a library window was left open. They fly inside and get lost in the wander of the books. They lose track of time and have to hurry out in the morning. As they return to their cave, they hope that the librarian will leave the window open again someday.