Little Libraries, Big Heroes

by Miranda Paul (Author) John Parra (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Todd and his friends love heroes. But in school, Todd doesn't feel heroic. Reading is hard for him, and he gets scolded for asking too many questions. How will he ever become the kind of hero he admires?

Featuring stunning illustrations that celebrate the diversity of the Little Free Library movement, here is the story of how its founder, Todd Bol, became a literacy superhero. Thanks to Todd and thousands of volunteers--many of whom are kids--millions of books have been enjoyed around the world. T

his creative movement inspires a love of reading, strengthens communities, and provides meeting places where new friendships, ideas--and heroes!--spring to life.

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Publishers Weekly

Paul (Nine Months) frames her nonfiction account of Little Free Libraries as a story about ordinary heroes. After Todd Bol's librarian mother dies, he creates a small one-room schoolhouse on a stand and fills it with books to share her "love of reading with anyone who passed by." But no one notices until he explains it to his neighbors, after which the "little library became the center of their neighborhood." Bol's friend Rick Brooks helps him dream bigger: Parra (Hey, Wall) shows the two of them talking excitedly, angular figures on pages textured like woodblock prints. They build many of the structures and, when they can't sell them, install them all over the upper Midwest. Now there are hundreds, all over the world. Paul writes of the way Bol's mother encouraged him as a child ("You could do anything," she tells him in the story's opening pages, a warm smile on her face) and finishes by nudging readers: "Tomorrow might bring another hero story, written by YOU." The way the text traces Bol's big idea back to its emotional source offers a path to heroes literary and ordinary both. Ages 4-7. Author's agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Adriana Dominguez and Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--When he was young, Todd's mom, a teacher, shared her love and enthusiasm for books with him and the children in their neighborhood. When she died, adult Todd got an idea. "He cut up an old door and hammered the pieces together to make a tiny one-room schoolhouse. He stacked books inside...and placed the little library on his lawn. Now he could share his mother's love of reading with anyone who passed by." A neighborhood rummage sale was the spark that got his neighbors to notice the little library, and it became the center of the community. Todd told his friend Rick Brooks, and they worked together to bring their idea to life. Eventually, they planted 30 little libraries across the Midwest. The media spread the word, and Little Free Libraries sprouted all over the U.S. and other countries, including Ireland, Pakistan, South Korea, and South Sudan. An author's note provides more background information and celebrates the creators of these libraries. "Building materials have included an old TV set, a telephone booth, newspaper vending machines, a medicine cabinet, a mini-refrigerator, electronic waste, Lego bricks, and even a large block of ice!" VERDICT The childlike acrylic illustrations and engaging text make this title accessible to young readers, but the story will appeal to and inspire all ages to join the movement. An important book recognizing a true everyday hero.--Barbara Auerbach, Cairo Public Library, NY

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Little Libraries, Big Heroes captures the magic of the Little Free Library movement and the power of a single person to make a difference. When kids read this book, we think they'll want to be big heroes, too! Highly recommended!" —Margret Aldrich, program manager at the national Little Free Library nonprofit organization and author of The Little Free Library Book
"This book proves ordinary people can do extraordinary, life-changing things. Readers will be inspired to make their own difference in the world." —Pat Zietlow Miller, NYT bestselling author of Be Kind "[A] celebration and history of the Little Free Library movement....A book to share about book-sharing at its best."—Kirkus

"The way the text traces Bol's big idea back to its emotional source offers a path to heroes literary and ordinary both." —Publishers Weekly

"Kids curious about the little neighborhood libraries that look a bit like oversized mailboxes or book-holding birdhouses will be interested to find out how they came to be and how a simple idea can gain traction."—Booklist

"[T]he story will appeal to and inspire all ages to join the movement. An important book recognizing a true ­everyday hero."—School Library Journal
Miranda Paul
Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of many books for children, and a founding member of the organization We Need Diverse Books. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Bea Jackson has illustrated several picture books, including New York Times bestseller Parker Looks Up. She lives in Detroit, Michigan.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Clarion Books
Publication date
September 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JNF007110 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Social Activists
JNF063000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Books & Libraries
JNF065000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Recycling & Green Living
Library of Congress categories
Little free libraries
Bol, Todd
Junior Library Guild Selection

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