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[Monday Reading] The Library As A Place For Sanctuary in Picture Books for Children


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

This post is an ode to libraries and librarians everywhere who welcome everyone through their doors, such that it becomes a sacred place, a sanctuary for eager and bright young minds, or those who are simply lost in the rain.

Please, Louise

Written by: Toni and Slade Morrison Illustrated by: Shadra Strickland
Published by: A Paula Wiseman Book: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 1416983384 (ISBN13: 9781416983385)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I first learned about Toni and Slade Morrison’s partnership in picture books in The Book Of Mean People and The Big Box. While I am a huge fan of Toni Morrison’s adult novels, I find her picturebooks a hit-or-miss for me. Take this one, for example. Told in rhyming text, the story features a young girl who has braved the rains to head off somewhere… place undetermined as yet in the beginning of the story.

It appears, however, that this young girl does not feel too safe around her neighbourhood. She travels on her own, and at each turn, the rhyming text reminds her to take note of the beauty in the things that she sees around her. The expression on her face also suggests fear, foreboding, and apprehension:

Until, finally, she arrives in this one place that brought out her sense of wonder. Throughout, the child is depicted to be on her own, apart from the dog at the very end of the story. She was not shown to engage with the people in her neighbourhood, but one thing that clearly provided her with sanctuary was this place with all the books: her community library.

While the rhyming text did not really work for me, I found the artwork interesting – especially in the last few pages when Louise is shown to lose herself in the books she borrowed and placed inside her little red trolley.

I would be interested to find out how other young readers responded to this story.

The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians

Written by: Carla Morris Illustrated by: Brad Sneed
Published by: Peachtree, 2007 Literary Award: Comstock Read Aloud Book Award (2008)
ISBN: 1561453919 (ISBN13: 9781561453917)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This picturebook here is clearly an ode to one of my favourite people in the world: librarians! This young boy named Melvin is said to live in the library – primarily because he spends so much time there that he practically lives there.

He does seem to have an insatiable appetite for information – he reads practically everything. And for each new flight of fancy that hits him, the wonderful librarians – each one of them with their own respective skills and talents (one is a whiz at computers while the others seem to find just the right book he didn’t even realize he needed) – would provide him with the information he requires.

Melvin grew up to be an immensely learned young man, and at every milestone in his life, the librarians were there throughout to cheer for him and to provide him with the information he needs to enable him to succeed.

While others may find the message to be quite heavy handed – I just found it to be so much fun! I love the idea of a young boy regarding the librarians as his mentors, and of these amazingly dedicated individuals who went over and above the call of duty to provide Melvin the inspiration, information, and support he needed so that he could pay it forward eventually when he became an adult.

This is truly a heartwarming tale that is a lovely tribute to wonderful librarians everywhere.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

10 comments on “[Monday Reading] The Library As A Place For Sanctuary in Picture Books for Children

  1. the art work on the second book simply pops out of the page with its colors! and i am sure i will love that book (librarians are truly wonderful!)


  2. The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians looks adorable. I can’t wait to find that one!


  3. I read The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians years ago. I think it’s one to find again and give a reread. I love books about about reading and books!


  4. lindabaie

    Love hearing about both books, and perhaps the only solace in the first book is that the lonely girl finds the library? The second one does look happier, but both sound worth finding. Thanks, Myra.


  5. The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians has amazing illustrations, and I’m sure the story will be wonderful too. I hope you enjoyed both books!

    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post.


  6. Pussreboots

    Both your books this weeks are ones I’ve read and reviewed. You can find the reviews here if you’re curious. Come see what I’m reading


  7. Ah – I haven’t read The Boy Who was . . . for a while. Unfortunately my other school library had it and this one doesn’t . Such a great title!


  8. I think most people don’t really realize how much of a refuge libraries are unless you have needed one, or worked in one. I will have to find a copy of The Boy who was Raised by Librarians. I hope I was the kind of librarian (and teacher) who helped children grow up to become successful adults.


  9. Those are lovely children’s books. Girl Who Reads


  10. The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians looks great. So much energy!

    Liked by 1 person

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