Poems Celebrating Books, Libraries, and the Joy of Reading

BookendsLynn: A new poetry collection selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins is always a treat, but Jumping Off Library Shelves: a Book of Poems is especially fun for us librarians. Its 15 poems celebrate books, libraries, imagination, and the joy of reading. There’s even a poem titled “Librarian”! All selections are short and accessible, making them perfect choices for starting a story hour, beginning a class, or reading at bedtime.

Jumping Off Library Shelves by Lee Bennett HopkinsJane Manning’s lively illustrations in gouache and pencil feature warm swishes of color across the pages. Poem titles include “Breakfast Between the Shelves,” “Storyteller,” “Dictionary Dare,” and “My Card.” If I had to pick a favorite, it might just be “Refuge,” by Nikki Grimes, which sums up the way many of us feel about libraries. Be sure to check out this charming book!

Cindy: I have to share just one of these gems!


Stack by stack,
shelf by shelf,
I pick out books
all by myself.

Page by page,
line by line,
word by word,
I make books mine.

With a wave of a card
like a wizard’s right hand—
and an alphabet-alchemy,

Jane Yolen

The rosy-cheeked wizard waving his inky pen and leaving behind alphabet swirls is the perfect illustration. If truth be told, I am lusting after each one of the illustrations in the book. Framed wall art or promotional posters are possible with each page or spread and the poems are delightful and inspirational for any library lover. While librarians are sure to embrace this book, I appreciate that the focus is centered on young library users and all of the wonders they can experience in their libraries.

Good Books, Good Times by Lee Bennett HopkinsThis poetry collection sent me running into the 811s in my library for Good Books, Good Times! (1990 and still in print in paperback), also selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. For years I’ve recited one of my favorites, Jack Prelutsky’s “I Met a Dragon Face to Face,” to launch a storytelling session with young children. Harvey Stevenson’s bright, expressive watercolor illustrations are a joy, too.


The biggest
On the library shelf
Is when you suddenly
Find yourself
Inside a book—
(The hidden you)

You wonder how
The author knew.

Beverly McLoughland



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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