The Libraries of Andrew Carnegie

I’m a sucker for a book about a library. So for today’s non-fiction picture book challenge I give you the book The Man Who Loved Libraries: The Story of Andrew Carnegie, written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Katty Maurey.

IMG_0059Larsen gives young readers a very brief introduction to the rags to riches story that was Andrew Carnegie. They quickly learn that he was born in Scotland in a poor family. When things became too difficult in Scotland, they made the journey to America to try their luck. Andrew worked hard always trying to be the best at whatever job he was doing. He became a messenger, taught himself how to operate telegraph equipment, and worked long hours.

He loved to read, but at the time there were no public libraries and books were expensive, so he rarely got the chance. Fortunately for Carnegie, a local businessman in Pittsburgh owned his own library and opened his doors to others on Saturday afternoons. The more Carnegie read, the more he learned.

IMG_0058He continued to work hard, invested his money, and by the time he was 35 he was a rich man. The book briefly discusses the fact that he made his fortune because of the railroads and his knowledge to invest in companies that produced oil, iron, and steel. More importantly to this story, Carnegie never forgot the kindness of Colonel Anderson who had opened his library to him, so with his riches, Carnegie built the first public library in the small Scottish village where he was born. Then he continued to build libraries around the world.

Many things can be said about Andrew Carnegie. His was a true rags to riches story, but his dealings with his employees weren’t always fabulous. The Carnegie Steel Company had some notorious strikes that sullied his name a bit in the history books. That said, he was quite the philanthropist. As the book says, “He believed that riches are for sharing. He believed in helping others to help themselves.”

IMG_0057This is a great way to engage young minds on history and to promote the notion that giving back to your community is essential. Larsen makes it easy for children to understand the good that Carnegie did by showcasing a library filled with children, something that many children can relate to.

We often forget that until men like Andrew Carnegie made their vast fortunes, there were fewer opportunities to equalize among classes. He created the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1911  “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” and they are still doing important work today.

nfpb2017Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the  Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.  There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!


*** I received a digital review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.


  1. I am going to have to find this book. Thank you for letting me know about it. I love non fiction children’s picture book and I have a Pittsburgh history, I know he is a complicated figure for Pittsburgh but he also did a lot of good.

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