Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: John O'Brien
Publisher: Calkins Creek Books (September 1, 2013)
Source: Purchased
Audience: 2nd to 4th grade
Keywords: American History, Biographical, American Presidents, Libraries

Description from Publisher:
Thomas Jefferson loved books, reading, and libraries, and he started accumulating books as a young man. This original and lyrical picture-book biography tells the story of how Jefferson's vast book collections helped to create the world's largest library, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Filled with excerpts from primary documents, including Jefferson’s thoughts on books, reading, and learning, this title also features John O’Brien’s whimsical and detailed illustrations. Rosenstock and O’Brien worked closely with experts to ensure the text and images are accurate. The book concludes with an author’s note, bibliography, and source notes.

My thoughts on this book:
Last year I read, Barb Rosenstock's The Camping Trip that Changed America.  This was my first introduction to Rosenstock's work, and I really enjoyed the book.  I was excited to see that she had a new one out, and pulled if off of the new release wall at Vroman's.  I don't think I had read more than a couple of pages when I knew that this was one that I had to have.   A few days later, I attended a book group of about 20+ teachers and librarians who book talk their latest book finds.  Guess which book I brought with me? If you said Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, you would be 100% correct.

What made me like this book as much as I did?   Page 6.  Well, yes, I did love page six and it is in the book trailer. Hint: What word did Jefferson spell out?  But, let me be serious for a minute.  Rosenstock fully captures Thomas Jefferson's love for books.  Jefferson loved to read nearly above all else.  Jefferson loved books so much that he began collecting them.  On his first trip to Europe, Jefferson shopped for books.  "Tom bought two thousand books in five years, more than a book a day."  That is some serious book shopping.

Still, there is more to love about this book.  Did you know that Jefferson had his own system for organizing books?  Did you know that while president, Jefferson tripled the number of books in the Library of Congress?  And after the Library of Congress experienced a fire that burned through 3,000 books, Jefferson donated his personal collection to the Library of Congress.

Though this book is focused on specific events in Jefferson's life as they related to books, the foucs is a good one that works.  The book does include an author's note and other tidbits of information and various resources at the end.  I encourage you to read through them.  Also, Rosenstock's text provides readers with information for further research on Jefferson and the Library of Congress.  Readers are invited to read through the book using the main text to inform and inspire them.  However, readers can read the book for a second or third time, as they look through the illustrations and read all of the small text boxes.  

Rosenstock's Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library would make a nice addition to any  classroom or school library.  Look for this book at your public library or pick up a copy at your local independent bookstore.

Official Book Trailer:

Educator's Guide, click here.

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