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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Last updated Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: John O'Brien
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 1590789326
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2016

Synopsis: As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress - now the largest library in the world.

Barb Rosenstock’s rhythmic words and John O’Brien’s whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson’s passion for the written word as well as little-known details about book collecting. Author and artist worked closely with experts to create the first picture book on Jefferson’s love of reading, writing, and books.

Note to readers:
•  We suggest reading the little boxes with quotes and fun facts. They are interesting and add historical context.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is Thomas Jefferson and why is he famous? (he was a US President and created a library)
•  What is your favorite book? How many books do you have?
•  If you had your own library, what types of books would you include?


•  gobbled - eat (something) hurriedly and noisily
•  Latin - the language of ancient Rome and its empire, widely used historically as a language of scholarship and administration
•  folios - an individual leaf of paper or parchment, numbered on the recto or front side only, occurring either loose as one of a series or forming part of a bound volume
•  parliament - (in the UK) the highest legislature, consisting of the sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons
•  Continental Congress - each of the three congresses held by the American colonies (in 1774, 1775, and 1776, respectively) in revolt against British rule. The second Congress, convened in the wake of the battles at Lexington and Concord, created a Continental Army, which fought and eventually won the American Revolution

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What was the Louisiana Purchase? (page 21)
•  Would you donate your books to the library if it burned down?
•  What other good things can you do with your books after you have read them?
•  How many books do you have to read to become President of the United States?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a book out of paper.
•  Draw your own library shelves and fill in titles of your favorite books. (Volunteers can make templates with lines for bookshelves ahead of time)
•  Draw a map featuring Monticello & D.C. (the route in the book)
•  Make a Father's Day card.
•  Check out our June craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  Discuss your favorite books with the group.
•  Act out your favorite book (or title) without speaking and have the other students guess the book.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!