The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Books about Books - October 2006

Selected and annotated by Sara Schepis

Non- Fiction

Scieszka, Jon, ed., Guys Write for Guys Read; New York: Viking, 2005.
This mixed-format collection is written by guys for guys, specifically to illustrate that reading CAN be appealing. The title is part of the Guys Read initiative. (To find out more, go to

Short Stories

Paulsen, Gary, ed., Shelf Life: Stories by the Book; New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Shelf Life is a sophisticated collection of short stories centers around the love of books and writing and demonstrates the power of literacy. (The book benefits the ProLiteracy Wordwide program.)


Bernstein, Nina. Magic By the Book. illus. by Boris Kulikov. New York: Foster Books/Farrar, 2005.
In this literary fantasy, three friends (Anne, Emily, and Will) discover a magic book that sweeps them into another world. They never know just who they’ll meet and find it impossible to predict the ending of their new story.

Brutschy, Jennifer. Just One More Story. illus. by Cat Bowman Smith. New York: Orchard Books, 2002.
Austin and his parents are traveling country western singers (“The Swamp Snakes”). Every night Austin hears one story from his dad and begs unsuccessfully for another—at least until they visit a “two story” house…

Child, Lauren. But Excuse Me That Is My Book. illus. by Lauren Child. New York: Dial Books, 2006.
Lola loves books and reading but she insists that a particular library book is the only one she wants to check out again and again. When it is found to be checked out, Lola’s brother Charlie works to convince her that there’s a world of other books to explore as well.

---. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? illus. by Lauren Child. New York: Hyperion Books, 2003.
Herb loves to read, but when he falls into a book of fairy tales he runs through story after story to get himself back home and the plots back to normal. Mixed-media illustrations add to the flavor of the story

Couloumbis, Audrey. The Misadventures of Maude March, or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse. New York: Random House, 2005.
Two sisters, Maude and Sallie, go on a western adventure that rivals the ones Sallie so fond of reading. Maude is “wanted” and running away from an imposed engagement. They must find their Uncle Arlen in Independence before their wold ride is over.

Durbin, William. El Lector. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2006.
A novel of historical fiction for 4-7 graders, El Lector depicts life in a Florida city during the 1930s. The protagonist’s grandfather has the job of “reader” for the workers at a cigar factory in a “little-known tradition” of culture in Ybor city

Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart. New York: Chicken House, 2003.
Books are powerful in more ways than one in this story concerning Maggie Folchart, her father Mo (who has quite a talent for reading aloud), a fire-eater, and a villain with an ink-black heart. (Grades 5-8).

---. Inkspell. New York: Chicken House, 2005.
In this sequel to Inkheart, Maggie, Mo, and their friends face a new challenge in an enchanted land very different from the one from which they have come, a world that may be re-made…or un-made.

Lehman, Barbara. The Red Book. New York: Hugh Mifflin, 2004.
This story of a magical red book is told entirely in pictures making it a good choice for having children narrate the story in their own words.

Muntean, Michaela, Do Not Open This Book!; illus. by Pascal Lemaitre. New York: Scholastic, 2006.
Young readers (gr. 2-4) will enjoy arguing with the pig narrator of the story who tells them not to turn the pages while he is trying to write a story.

Prose, Francine, Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig. Illus. by Einav Aviram. New York: Cotler/HarperCollins, 2005.
Leopold is a popular storyteller at Leipzig zoo, where he tells wonderous, multi-colored tales. But one day he faces the charge of being a liar when the visiting scholar Doctor Doctor Professor Morgenfresser comes to town.

Sierra, Judy. Wild About Books; illus. by Marc Brown. New York: Knopf, 2004.
A poetic picture book describes what happens when a librarian brings her bookmobile to a zoo full of eager animal readers. (4-8 years.)

Smothers, Ethel Footman. The Hard-Times Jar; illus. by John Holyfield. New York: Foster/Farrar, 2003.
The story of a girl (the daughter of migrant workers) who is “hungry for books,” especially since she has none of the “store-bought” kind for herself.

Walker, Kate. I Hate Books!; illus. by David Cox. Chicago: Cricket Books, 2007.
Hamish loves stories but he can’t read. What will happen when others find out, he wonders? Will he ever learn to read…? (Grades 2-4)

Zusak, Mark. The Book Thief. New York: Knopf, 2006.
A very unusual narrator tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl living in Nazi Germany who discovers the incredible power of books. The narrator describes the story as “just a small story, really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.