In honor of National Library Workers Day (April 14, 2015), I’m sharing a book I love not only for it’s story and illustrations, but for it’s introduction to historical fiction. That Book Woman (Henson/Small, 2008) tells the story of a poor rural family during the Great Depression.
Cal resents his sister Lark’s love of books until one long cold winter when he learns to read at her side. The inspiration for his change of heart is a courageous and dedicated “Pack Horse Librarian” who will stop at nothing to bring books to the family’s far off home. That book woman never accepts anything in return for the books she brings and challenges Cal’s gender stereotypes as she rides off alone into a strong winter storm. In the end, Cal repays her with the best gift any teacher could hope for.
At the end of the book is an author’s note explaining the history of the Pack Horse Librarians of Appalachian Kentucky who served in F.D.R.’s Works Progress Administration. I never knew about this program before reading this book. I tear up every time we read it recognizing that these librarians were some of the most dedicated educators our nation has ever known.
While I don’t usually link to video readings of the books I review, I am today (here you go!), so you can all hear the story and take a moment to celebrate the librarians in your lives!