The Biblioburro

I’m a library dog and I’m interested in all things library. I love my local public library and the libraries at the local schools. They are fabulous, magical places always filled with kids. Kids that are travelling to far away places in their imaginations.  But did you know that there are places in the world that don’t have libraries? Can you imagine being a child and not being able to visit a library? Imagine not having books in your home or at your school? Imagine not having a school?! There are places like this for real! Not just imaginary places.

I found a book about just such a place. In Columbia, which is far away in South America. The book is called Biblioburro. It is written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. ( This is the author who gave us another book about a library — The Librarian of Basra.) It was published in 2010 by Beach Lane Books. It’s suitable for ages 6 and up.


This is a true story about a truly remarkable man. From the book – “Deep in the jungles of Colombia, there lives a man who loves books. His name is Luis. As soon as he reads one book, he brings home another. Soon the house is filled with books.”  He needs to find something to do with all of his books!  So Luis decides he can share them with people in the faraway hills who have no books.

He gets 2 donkeys to carry the books and paints a sign to hang on their backs: BIBLIOBURRO. Which means donkey library! Every week he loads books onto the donkeys and travels far away through rivers and jungles, over mountains and past bandits until he reaches a village where the kids have no library and no school and no books. And he tells them stories and reads them books and leaves each child with a book to take home. Then Luis makes the long trek back to his own home to read his own book.

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This is such a heartwarming story! It’s nice to think that there are people like Luis in the world who can make such a positive difference in a child’s life! The illustrations in the book are quite lovely as well. They are big and bright and give the feel of the jungle and the happy kids.

We read this book with some 4th graders and had a nice discussion about what it would be like to not have a library. Then we talked about how special Luis is. The kids tried to come up with ways that they could be special, too. They thought about learning about other places that might not have books and about trying to collect books to donate to kids who need them. We even have kids in our own community who don’t have books at home. That’s a sad thing. Books are powerful things and have the ability to connect us all.

Luis really is a real person and some time ago we watched a show about him on PBS. Here is a link to a video about Luis.


So now your heart is warmed and full and you can go check out the book — Biblioburro!  You’ll be glad you did!

And then you can check out all the other Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Hill’s blog. Enjoy! And go out and do something powerful!

The Librarian of Basra

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!  We came across a really interesting book about a heroic librarian. ( I actually think all librarians are pretty heroic!).

The book is called The Librarian of Basra, a True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.

It is a non-fiction book published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2005.

I think that it would be suitable for elementary age kids.

The book tells the story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian in Basra, Iraq. “Her library is a meeting place for all who love books. They discuss matters of the world and matters of the spirit.” Alia loves her books and loves her library. When war, with its bombs and fires, comes to her city, she worries about the books being destroyed. So secretly in the night she and her neighbors move all the thousands of books to a nearby restaurant. When the war moves on from her city, leaving the library in ruins, she moves all the books again — to her own house and the houses of friends. And there she and the books wait for the end of war and she dreams of a new library.

This is a sad, but uplifting story. The book is a picture book and does not provide a lot of detailed information about the war or Iraq, but the illustrations are quite lovely, bright and simple and filled with emotion.

“Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to a fund administrated by the American Library Association to help rebuild the book collection of Basra’s Central Library.”

That sounds like a good cause! And maybe a classroom or school might like to do a fundraiser for the library. Or even for their own local library!

You might want to read the original article from the NY Times that inspired Ms Winter to write this book. Or maybe an interview with Ms Winter herself! Jeanette Winter is an interesting lady and has written other books. You can read a nice article about her here.

This book could provide a good history lesson about Iraq and the war there. And about libraries in general. A history of libraries would be fascinating. Kids might like to do a play about the Librarian saving her books.

A study guide for this book and another book about the Basra Library called Alia’s Mission by Mark Alan Stamaty, can be found here.

I would sure not like to have to move all the books from our Somervell Co. Library!  Whew! What a task! I can’t even imagine how a few people could do something like that in a night!   You know, that might be a good math problem for big kids to figure out! How many books could you move in a night?!
I hope your libraries are all safe and sound. I hear that some bookstores in the northeast got flooded when Sandy came to visit. It’s a sad thing to lose books like that.

Go check out The Librarian of Basra and — Treasure your books! And if you want to check out some more great picture books you can visit Susanna Hill’s blog!