How many times do you see, hear, read authors, illustrators, inspirational people say how much their local libraries meant to them? I have many many times. And the author of today’s title not only aimed to show the value of libraries, but how the closure of such spaces impacts on communities of colour. This is We Want Our Books, written and illustrated by Jake Alexander and published by Two Hoots press.
Rosa, like many children, is curious about the world around her, and when she asks her Dad a whole bunch of questions at the end of a long day, he suggests she go to the library for her answers. But when Rosa gets there, the library has been closed down!! With her sister’s help, Rosa attempts to protest about the library closure, but she struggles to be heard. Everyone is too busy, or doesn’t care, or just don’t want to listen.
But Rosa refuses to let this get in her way and she continues to shout and fight for what she believes in, the library and books for her and her community! Eventually, with perseverance and determination, Rosa makes the change happen and saves her local library!
I love it when Authors get the chance to illustrate their own books, they can really inject their all into the pages, and this is no exception with We Want Our Books. Jake’s illustrations here are fresh and modern, and play with perspective and viewpoint to really fill the pages with feeling. This book visually represents communities and the variety of people within them perfectly. There is something so atmospheric and emotive about the images in this book. The page showing the library setting being used as it should filled me with complete joy. This IS my library at its best. Filled with people from all cultures, backgrounds and age. It is just captivating.
I’m biased when it comes to books about libraries. Of course I am. I work in one, and that work is based on a passion and love of what libraries are to their communities. I see it every single day! But I believe my bias is well placed. Libraries bring communities together, non judgmental spaces that offer cultural enrichment, education, empowerment, social interactions, the list goes on, They are incredibly undervalued yet valuable spaces. Jake Alexander has written a beautifully, and simply written book here, that shows the passion and care that Rosa and her family, and Jake himself feel for libraries. This story is an ode, and dedication to those spaces, and a truly heartfelt one at that.
This book isn’t just about libraries though, and that is what makes it so wonderful! Because it’s not an overly wordy book, yet it covers SO many vital themes. This is a story of self empowerment, of a young girl of colour finding her voice, having the courage to fight, and not stop fighting, for her rights. It’s a stand against racism, and it’s a call to community, to show that when they work together, they have the power to make change. This is a powerful book and a shout out to all those children who will read it, to stand tall and fight for their rights. Whether it be for access to books, as in this case, or a greener future, equality or safety, they have the power to speak up, and we have the power to listen. And there it is, empathy in children’s books, it has the ability to changes lives, to change worlds! Children need to see this in books, see it happening and see themselves empowered and that has been achieved with this story.
Jake Alexander has created a remarkable book here, for the love of libraries, and for children like Rosa.
We Want Our Books is out now and available from all good bookshops and libraries of course. I have two copies to give away over on my Twitter account, so head there to find out how!
You can support my blog and your local bookshop at the same time by ordering a copy through my Bookshop.org affiliate link. (thank you).
Big thanks to Two Hoots for sending me a copy of this book for my honest opinion, and thank you for reading this Book Monster review.