Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Book Title: The Man Who Loved Libraries: The Story of Andrew Carnegie (available here)
Author: Andrew Larson
Illustrator: Katty Maurey
Publisher: Pikku Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Most Suitable For: KS2
Reviewed By: Suzanne Booth
The man who loved libraries is the story of Andrew Carnegie - a name that may sound familiar to many for a variety of reasons; the famous Carnegie Hall in New York, the Carnegie Medal (a well-known book award) and some, more humbly, from a plaque at their local library.
Andrew Carnegie was born in a small Scottish village in the late 1800s. His father was a weaver, and his mother looked after the family, but she also tried to earn a little extra by selling the vegetables that they grew. But times were hard, and life was bleak, which led them to decide to make a life-changing move to America.
Arriving there at the height of the industrial revolution there were plenty of jobs, including for Andrew. He was keen and a hard worker and soon found better work, but always knew that learning was key to his future. He couldn’t go to school as he had to work, books were expensive, and there were no libraries. It was the kindness of a local businessman who opened his private library to help young people that allowed Carnegie to learn - all through reading! With his knowledge he was able to get even better jobs, until one day he became involved in the Pennsylvania Railway Company, soon becoming one of the bosses. Eventually, through work and investments, Andrew Carnegie become one of the richest men in the world. But he believed in sharing his wealth and helping others to help themselves. And with those values, Carnegie set up a legacy that we still benefit from today building over 2500 public libraries around the world.
This lovely picture book is a biographical story of the man who became known as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. The name Carnegie is inscribed above the door of over 650 libraries that he opened in the UK and Ireland. But alongside the biography, there lies a wealth of important messages. We learn that from his humble beginnings Carnegie showed immense determination, proving there is no barrier to achievement when you strive to improve. The story also illustrates the wealth of knowledge that we can learn from the pages of a book – something that I think many of us forget with our modern world of technology. There is also a message of kindness and the power of giving to others- which has its own reward.
But times are changing again, and although the children’s book industry is currently in the midst of a ‘heyday’, being certain that all these great new books are available to all is another question. Libraries are disappearing, making it hard for all communities to access the newest titles. It seems particularly pertinent to have received this book on the same day I received an email to consult on my opinion of the proposed closures of library services in my area. The quote ‘When you open the door to a library, a world of opportunity awaits’ was something that Carnegie truly believed, and this is something that we should all be reminded of.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Suzanne for reviewing it.
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