Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia
Beach Lane Books, 2010.
We have all met children with a never-ending hunger for books. Some of them have shelves full of them, but it seems there can never be too many: the prospect of a new story always whets their appetite for more.
There are other children whose hunger for books goes much deeper. These are the children who may read a single book over and over because it is the only book they have, children who dream about that book when they are not reading it and wish they had others. Deep in the jungles of Colombia, some of these children’s dreams have come true thanks to the ingenuity and determination of Luis Soriano, a schoolteacher and avid reader who has devised a way to bring books to these isolated communities: The Biblioburro, a mobile lending library carried on the backs of two donkeys.
Each week Luis loads up books from his private collection and carries them from his remote village of La Gloria to even more remote villages in the Colombian jungle. Luis and his burros, Alfa and Beto, endure heat, tiredness, and even bandits as they carry their precious cargo to people hungry for books. When Luis arrives, he reads to the children before allowing each of them to select a new book and return their books from the previous week. Then Luis returns home and reads his own book late into the night.
With characteristic simplicity and her signature bold, bright colors, Jeanette Winter tells the beautiful story of this man who has enriched the lives of hundreds through his efforts. Children with an insatiable appetite for reading despite full shelves and access to local libraries will appreciate the tale of the Biblioburro that brings books to children who would not have them otherwise. The fact that Luis himself lives a simple life and is willing to endure inconvenience and even danger to bring books where there are none underscores the value and power of reading to those of us who have come to take it for granted. Biblioburro is a heartwarming profile of one man who is making the world better in a simple yet profound way.