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National Literacy Month: Picture Books About Loving Books and the Power of Reading

September is National Literacy Month!

A whole month dedicated to celebrating reading? Count us in! In this compilation of book recommendations, you will find all sorts of picture books about BOOKS and READING! There’s something for everyone, including the struggling reader, the bookworm, and those who haven't yet discovered the magic of reading.

This book list is excellent for educators who are establishing hopes and dreams around reading and literacy, as well as caregivers who want to ignite a love of reading. We also included a number of books about education access and literacy around the world.

You can check out our entire bookish list on Bookshop. In the meantime, enjoy a snapshot of ten of our favorites below.

Dear Reader: a Love Letter to Libraries

Author/Illustrator: Tiffany Rose | Publisher: little bee books

“In this book a young girl pens a love letter to libraries and books, and powerfully expresses the need for diversity and the importance of representation in stories!”

We previously chose, Dear Reader: a Love Letter to Libraries, as part of our Books We Love program. In this story, a young girl loves reading all different kinds of books. She starts noticing that there aren’t a lot of books with characters who look like her - and what’s even worse, that most of the ones who do have characters like her, only talk about painful parts of history as opposed to showcasing love and joy.

This hopeful book will inspire readers to seek out stories that affirm and reflect the diversity of young readers, and that shine a spotlight on the beauty of differences and collective sameness of us all. Dear Reader is an important conversation starter for kids of all ages.

Grandmother School

Author: Rina Singh | Illustrator: Ellen Rooney | Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

"The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education―when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her.

Women in countless countries continue to endure the limitations of illiteracy. Unjust laws have suppressed the rights of girls and women and kept many from getting an education and equal standing in society. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives."

How to Read a Book

Author: Kwame Alexander | Illustrator: Melissa Sweet | Publisher: HarperCollins

This book is simply gorgeous! The colorful, collage-like illustrations and poetic rhythm are perfect for inspiring a love of reading. Each thoughtful sentence conjures up delightful visualizations for young readers - so not only is it fun to read, it’s a great way to play with language and vocabulary. In How to Read a Book, readers will go on an adventure to discover the magic of reading, so find a cozy place to cuddle up and enjoy!

I’ll Build You a Bookcase

Author: Carole Gerber | Illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi | Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

I’ll Build You a Bookcase is the perfect pick for a caregiver who is eager to nurture a love of reading in their little one. This bilingual picture book celebrates the joy of reading and storytelling through brightly colored illustrations and short and sweet rhymes.

I’ll Build You a Bookcase is available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese and Mandarin.


Author/Illustrator: Yuyi Morales | Publisher: Neal Porter Books

“We are resilience. We are hope. We are dreamers.

Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.”

This beautiful and emotional book is first and foremost a story about family, culture, and finding the strength to establish new roots in an unfamiliar place. Dreamers beautifully articulates the specific experiences of being an immigrant in the United States. While challenged with dueling languages and cultural expectations, a young mother and her son discover the magic and joy of books in the library. Their creativity and hope begins to bloom again.

This book is also available in Spanish.

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina

Authors: Lea Lyon and Alexandria LeFaye | Illustrator: Jessica Gibson | Publisher: HarperCollins

As a young girl, Sylvia wanted nothing more than to take ballet lessons. When that wasn’t possible, she used her community’s bookmobile to find books to teach herself how to dance. She even started teaching her friends! Eventually, she opened her own studio and credited her professional successes to the bookmobile.

This nonfiction book is such a fun and inspiring story, and really highlights the transformative power of books. It shows the incredible impact that the right books can have on kids and their life’s trajectories. The end notes include a history of bookmobiles through the ages, and we’re thrilled to be part of this exciting legacy with our Big Red Reading Bus!

The Library Book

Authors: Tom Chapin and Michael Mark | Illustrator: Chuck Groenink | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

“What’s the best way to cure a gloomy day? A trip to the library! Based on the hit song by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, here is an affectionate, exuberant, uproarious celebration of books, reading, and—SHHH!—libraries!”

This book is the perfect introduction to the joy that a neighborhood public library can bring. The illustrations include familiar books and stories kids and grown ups will love, and the sing-songy tune makes it a great book to be read aloud!

Nia and the New Free Library

Author: Ian Lendler | Illustrator: Mark Pett | Publisher: Chronicle Books

“This picture book tells the story of one girl who reminds an entire town of the joy of books.

When the town's old library is destroyed by a tornado, the people are left wondering: What should they do with the space where the library used to be?

The characters in Nia and the New Free Library all want different things: the builder wants there to be a new skyscraper, the grocer wants a new parking lot, but Nia just wants a new library . . . but how can one person build a whole library?

• Explores the power of community and what a group can accomplish

• Teaches the importance of working together toward a common goal

• Reminds readers of the important role libraries play in community, and how they work

Sometimes the biggest things can start with almost nothing at all.”

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole World

Author: Malcolm Mitchell | Illustrator: Michael Robertson | Publisher: Orchard Books

We know that not every child loves reading at first, and many struggle to find the right book or to feel confident to read on their own. Reading is hard! This book was made for that child.

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole World is empowering, it reminds us all that everyone has an important story to tell, and that we can never stop looking for the perfect book to ignite a love of reading.

What Would You Do in a Book About You?

Author: Jean Reidy | Illustrator: Joey Chou | Publisher: HarperCollins

What Would You Do in a Book About You? encourages people to dream big and imagine the stories they want to tell in their lifetime. It’s a rhythmic and fun story to read aloud and the perfect book to inspire others to follow their dreams!

Love in the Library

Author: Maggie Tukuda-Hall | Illustrator: Yas Imamura | Publisher: Candlewick

“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s beautifully illustrated, elegant love story features a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—along with an afterword and other back matter for readers to learn more about a time in our history that continues to resonate.”


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