Toronto, Ontario: OwlKids Books, 2017

Andrew Carnegie’s rags to riches story is quintessentially American, no doubt.  The Man Who Loved Libraries focuses, of course, on the role libraries played in Carnegie’s education, life, and legacy.

The story opens with the Carnegie family struggling to make ends meet in Scotland – Andrew’s father was a weaver and the new factory-made fabrics were taking a toll on his business.  Then moves through the family’s immigration to the United States when Andrew was 12, when he started his career as a bobbin boy in a textile mill.

Andrew, who began his formal education at age 8, was hungry to learn, but was not able to attend school after the Carnegies arrived in Pittsburgh when he was 12.  Knowing his education was important, he turned to reading to continue learning.  There was no money for books, and no public library, but there was a Colonel Anderson who opened his private library on Saturdays and lent books.

Andrew moved on to better and better jobs, and using what he’d learned from all that reading, landed a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad. Once there, he started saving money, learned the railroad business, invested in steel, and the rest is history.

After earning his fortune, Carnegie didn’t forget where he got the education that helped him get ahead – Colonel Anderson’s library.  Consequently, he reasoned that the best way to give back was to help establish public libraries – more than 2,500 of them by the time he was done, in cities and towns around the world.  The first one was in the Scottish town where he was born.

This title is a crisp and concise biography with clean illustrations depicting stages of Carnegie’s life.  The endnotes briefly touch on his violent conflicts with employees that tried to unionize. There are photographs there, also ,resting information.  It’s a good addition to an elementary biography collection.

Dewey:  338.7 Interest Level:  K-3

Reviews and Awards: Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Junior Library Guild selection.

Older readers might like: Andrew Carnegie and the Steel Industry (Great Entrepreneurs In U.S. History) by Rajczak Nelson, Kristen

Fiction Pairing: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Rabenstein