Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel

Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel; illustrated by Paola Escobar. 2020. Illustrations were made digitally. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books.

Brief summary: Jose, a garbage collector, begins his nightly route in Bogota, Columbia. Jose keeps the books others discard in the trash and adds them to his own library. Each Saturday, he kindly opens his home full of shelves of books for others to borrow, as there is not a library in their area.

Comments: There is a parallel story of a boy in the neighborhood also named Jose who looks forward to Saturday when he can borrow a book from the garbage man’s home library.

This is a superb story to remind many of how lucky we are in the USA to have more free access to books with so many public libraries and Little Free Libraries.

The back pages have an Author’s Note, Featured Books, and Selected Online Sources. There are photos of Jose in the back too.

I thought of that famous quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” as I was reading this picture book. I also reflected upon what my life would be like without having a public library close to where I live.

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