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The Children's Bookshelf: A Library - January 22, 2023

A Library written by highly praised poet Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by exceptional artist Erin K. Robinson is a tribute to libraries, the power of books and to those who literally get books into the hands of young readers.

While living with her grandmother in Knoxville, Tennessee during the summer months, the girl in this book, whom we assume is Nikki Giovanni, was encouraged by her grandmother to visit the Carnegie Branch of the Lawson McGhee Library. However, the Carnegie Branch, which served the colored population, often didn’t have the books young Nikki wanted to read. Here Librarian Mrs. Long played an important role in Nikki’s life. She not only encouraged her to love books, but she also travelled to the Lawson McGhee Library to fetch the books Nikki wanted to read.

This love letter to libraries in general and Mrs. Long specifically is beautifully written. The author proclaims that a library is a place to be free and a place to be anything you want ----- quick, smart, contained, cautious, wonderful or just be you.

The illustrations are colorful, thoughtful, and wonderfully full of passion. The picture of being blue and then moving into jazz on the very next page is awesome.

A Library written by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Erin K. Robinson is a beautiful book for readers 5-8 years of age (Versify/an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) 2022.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for A Library

For younger readers: At the end of this story the girl can be seen reading in her favorite spot on the back porch with her toes comfortably covered with a quilt. Where is your favorite spot to read?

Think bout it. Is it in your bedroom surrounded by pillows? Is it in the front room in a big old comfy chair? Is it under a table with the tablecloth hanging down and around for privacy? Draw a picture of you reading a book in your favorite reading place. Use a lot of colorful details.

For older readers: Has a librarian ever helped you find the perfect book? What was the title of that book? Has anyone else ever helped you find a special book such as your teacher, your mother, your father, an older sibling, or a friend? Did you thank them? If not, please write them a short thank you note now telling them how much you appreciated their help. Include how much you have enjoyed the book.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.