Libraries Publish Children’s Books

Stephanie Katz
May 3 · 3 min read
Silhouette of child reading a book.
Silhouette of child reading a book.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Many books have been published by libraries including books for children. By publishing the books highlighted below, libraries encourage children to read, help forge a bond between young readers and the library, and fill gaps in children’s literature. Some of the books were written by library staff while others were commissioned by writers in the community or sourced from public domain content. More information on each book, including sample publishing budgets, can be found in Libraries Publish: How to Start a Magazine, Small Press, Blog, and More.

Board book for babies
Board book for babies

Board Books for Babies

Multnomah County Library located in the greater Portland region of Oregon published a board book full of photos of real baby patrons enjoying the library. The photos were taken by a professional photographer, and the fun, approachable text of the book was written by library staff to encourage new parents to visit the library and read to their little ones. The book is part of a packet given to first-time parents by the library’s partner organizations. The library also published a short, softcover book for new parents that explains how to encourage literary and a love of reading during the first two years of a child’s life.

Library Mascot Picture Books

To support an early outreach literary program, Ames Public Library in Ames, Iowa published a picture book inspired by the library’s unofficial mascot — a cute blue dog that appeared on the wrapping of the library’s new bookmobile. The dog was reading a pretend book titled Dog Tales, and the library’s outreach paraprofessional Kay Marner had the idea to turn the pretend book into a real one and integrate it into preschool visits and other outreach actives. She wrote the text for Dog Tales: The Adventures of Smyles and donated the rights to the library. The library commissioned and illustrator, contracted a publisher, and threw a book-release party for the public. The book was so popular, Marner spent almost two hours inscribing book copies for party attendees. Details of the project can be found in Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook, edited by Carol Smallwood.

Books in Other Languages

Librarians often struggle to find children’s book written in other languages, especially languages spoken and read by small immigrant populations. A handful of libraries published their own books to solve this problem.

St. Paul Public Library in Saint Paul, Minnesota published bilingual picture books for young members of the area’s immigrant populations. They commissioned writers and artists to create two books in Karen, one in Oromo, and one in Amharic for their growing Karen and Ethiopian residents.

Image for post
Image for post

Staff at Multnomah County Library sourced traditional nursery rhymes in Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish and published the rhymes in small, inexpensive chapbooks. Each book contains about 20 rhymes, poems, songs, and chants that are in the public domain. Multnomah County Library sells copies of the books to parents, preschools, literary organizations, and other libraries for $2.50 each or $2.00 for orders of 100 or more. The library also created a nursery rhyme book in English.

Has your library published a children’s book any or type of publication? Tell us at literarylibraries@gmail.com.

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