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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  340 ratings  ·  98 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Calkins Creek
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Perfect for the adult, or child, I suppose, who cannot live without books Bonus points for addressing the difficult issue of slavery in a sensitive way.

Library copy, natch.
“Thomas Jefferson learned to read. And then, he never stopped.”
When my son heard this line, he laughed out loud at the absurdity of such a statement but then wanted to read on to see how the author would support a grand claim like that!

With this opening line to Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, Barb Rosenstock recounts the strong role that reading and books played in Thomas Jefferson’s life. While many biographies use dates to create a logical chronology, Rosenstock uses Thomas Jefferson’s enga
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Thomas Jefferson had his faults but this book focuses on his love for reading and collecting of books. I learned a lot about Jefferson's contribution to the Library of Congress' collection (basically starting/rebuilding it).
Edward Sullivan
How can a passionate bibliophile like me not love a book about another passionate bibliophile like Thomas Jefferson?
Upon first look at the overall appearance of the illustrations, my mind said I wasn't going to like this title. I had already read and loved Kalman's Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything which was an entertaining way to learn biographical information.
However, Rosenstock's title focuses only on Jefferson's love of books and his contribution to the beginning of America's library, The Library of Congress. Not every child or adult will be interested in this aspect of Jeffer
Excellent children's book on the life of Thomas Jefferson told from the point of view of his massive library. If you love books and reading, share this with a child in your life.
Sara K.
I got this book for my birthday and I loved it!!! I read it out loud to Shawn and Archie. I may not be teaching 4th grade anymore, but I still love this content. I love how there are hidden or creatively rendered books on every page!!!
Traci Bold
The man who started, in my opinion, the best free franchise ever...a library; Thomas Jefferson. when he was very young, he had read all of his fathers books, about forty-six before he started school and his love of all books continued throughout his lifetime. He read everything he could get his hands on.

In fact, he even started collecting books, creating his own library that far outnumbered the library his father had. His strong support of the Library of Congress continued even after he was Pres
For students studying American history --even intermediate grade 4th and 5th grade students--Rosenstock's story about Jefferson's fascination with books provides a different, closer-to-home, real person view of Jefferson. There's a great quote from Jefferson in the author's notes that reveals his wish to be at home with family and books versus working in politics. This would be worthy of posting and discussing the tensions our "Founding Fathers" felt between the call of a new nation and their pe ...more
These excellent nonfiction picture books are coming out fast and furious! This one personalizes Thomas Jefferson via his particular love of books -- reading them and collecting them. He read so much that his mind was highly prized during the development of the U.S. He collected so much that he sold his personal library to Congress when the first Library of Congress was burned by the British!

The book is lightly written, with a couple chances for page-turn suspense and several fun repeated "Guess
Joanna Thompson
1) “Twin Text” – The Matchbox Diary, Paul Fleischman, 2013

2) Rationale: This is my favorite twin text pairing of my set. I chose this twin text because it will hopefully allow students to connect to Jefferson’s desire to collect items through the great grandfather’s story in The Matchbox Diary. If I just start out with Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library some students may be turned off because it talks about his love for books and some students may consider themselves nonreaders or may have a stro
1.) _The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians_, Carla Morris, 2007

2.) _The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians_ is the charming story of a little boy named Melvin who grows up surrounded by library books and supportive librarians who help answer his questions and locate the information he needs to become successful. At the end of the book, the author reveals that Melvin has become a librarian himself. The book highlights all of the wonderful children's services within the library, which students are co
This book was especially enjoyable to read since I bought it in the Library of Congress book store after seeing Jefferson's collection! I love the story of Jefferson's obsession with books and reading and the legacy he left to the Library of Congress. And who wouldn't want a table that revolves so that you could read several books at once?! I enjoyed O'Brien's lively illustrations, also.
Ying Lee
The founding father of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is actually a bibliophile. Once he learned to read, he never stopped reading. He read and collected books in English, Latin, French, Spanish and other languages as well as books on a variety of topics, such as cooking, fishing, fertilizing, games, and ghosts. Wherever he went, he read. As Thomas was elected the president of the United States, the Library of Congress was double-sized. Even though the Library of Congress was burned in 181 ...more
The whimsical illustrations and the added fun facts on most pages make this a fun read for sure. The topics of Jefferson, his love of reading, and the Library of Congress are covered in beautiful detail and this a fabulous read for history lovers of all ages.
Elizabeth Keisling
I would use this book for a social studies lesson because it talks about the building of the Library of Congress, and Thomas Jefferson’s own personal library. I might also tie some math into the lesson with the amount of books, and the price of books for Thomas Jefferson.

As a twin text, I would choose the fiction text First Peas on the Table, by Susan Grigsby. This I could use in Social Studies, once again because it discusses Thomas Jefferson and his writings on gardening. I would then use thi
Thomas Jefferson was a plantation owner, a statesman, a writer, a president. But most of all, he was a reader, and this picture book biography gloriously showcases his love of books. Wherever he went, he bought books and read books. As President, Jefferson appointed the first librarian of Congress’s small library and more than tripled the number of books there. In 1814, after British troops set fire to the Capitol and destroyed the entire collection, Jefferson personally selected over 6500 books ...more
Summer Rosswog
I was immediately drawn to this book because I'm a children's librarian and I also worked for a few years at the Library of Congress' Young Readers Center. It is beautifully illustrated and easy to read aloud with a child--including fact and quote bubbles that add to the main text. The book stays focused on aspects of Jefferson's life that have to do with his passion for books and libraries. I liked that, being a book geek. However, I found myself wanting it to be a bit richer in textual facts a ...more
I must be related somehow to Thomas Jefferson since we both love books so much! I enjoyed learning that In Jefferson's time, books were commonly sold unbound. The pages were then taken to a bookbinder, who stitched and covered the book in the way the owner wanted.I had no idea! Jefferson also instructed people when certain subjects should be read, such as, science in the morning, history in the afternoon, and then stories in the evening. It is now my mission to visit the Library of Congress and ...more
I love all library-themed books and this is additionally interesting because it’s about Thomas Jefferson’s extraordinary life with books, collecting, reading and finally donating them to help our own Library of Congress. Among more serious stories, one that is fun is that actually had a table that turned with at least five books open at once so it was easier to read without actually pulling out another book! Don’t we all need that? The book holds specific facts but with sometimes tongue-in-chee ...more
Originally kept in the Capitol in Washington, D. C. as a small library of resources for the legislators, its contents were burned in 1814 when British troops set fire to the building. A man with a known passion for books and reading offered his extensive library as a replacement. In January of 1815 Congress allowed compensation in the sum of $23,950 for his 6,487 books *. This man was Thomas Jefferson. Author Barb Rosenstock and illustrator John O'Brien chronicle the growth of this affection for ...more
Kristin Forman
Thomas Jefferson loved to read books. He loved to read all different types of books. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library is a biography that tells the story for his love of books and how it helped to create the world's largest library, The Library of Congress. The book was interesting to read because it shows his passion for reading and his thoughts on reading and learning. There are beautiful quotes about Jefferson's outlook on books. Looking into the early years that shaped our nation and the ro ...more
What's not to love? It's about Thomas Jefferson. It's about books. It has great illustrations, quotes and a story about Jefferson's books and the Library of Congress. A great way to start a discussion with children, students, teens about a love of reading, about the history of both Jefferson and the LOC. It can also serves as a way to talk about life in Jefferson's time and how expensive it was to be a bibliophile. Read the library copy but I have a suspicion this will find it's way into my pers ...more
May 29, 2014 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book and Jefferson readers
This was a fun enthusiastic quick read. It is about Thomas Jefferson's lifelong love of books and reading. It lost a star for some of the illustrations being difficult to read and some of the text being somewhat misleading. While Jefferson loved his books, he also loved his family. I loved the quotes from his granddaughters but nothing appeared in the main text about his family life other than his grief over his wife's death. Even then, there were books at the deathbed. This might be accurate bu ...more
4.2 stars

It's a easy-to-read nonfiction book about Thomas Jefferson's love of books and reading. He built a large library at Monticello. As he traveled the world, he always purchased books.

He appointed the first librarian at the new Library of Congress. During the War of 1812 when the British set fire to the White House, they also burned the Library of Congress! Jefferson used many of the books from his personal library to start a new collection at the Library of Congress.

A delightful read with wonderful illustrations. Anyone who loves reading as much as Thomas Jefferson did and who was unselfishly devoted to promoting literacy is a great person. I liked that the author's notes did mention he owned slaves throughout his life so that's an opportunity for discussion. How do you measure the goodness of a man or woman? Can biographies be fair if they just focus on one person's interest? Does there need to be a disclaimer of sorts to try and be inclusive?
The Styling Librarian
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by John O’Brien – 921 – Biography, NF – Fascinating biography about Thomas Jefferson and his life-long obsession with books, learning, and language. He wasn’t a perfect person and there were facts sprinkled throughout illustrating this… Loved reading and learning a few tidbits more. I wish this biography, and many others, were around when I was a kid, would have loved learning about history so much more!
Great book for all of you bibliophiles! Thomas Jefferson loved books. This book focuses on his love of reading. He would read several books at once (literally), often in several languages. And did you know about his crazy shopping binge in Paris? Forget shoes and fashion, Thomas went for the books. Quote bubbles and little factoids can be found on each page. In the end, you can read more details about his life, but this book is solely focused on his love of the written word.
Ruth Ann
Excellent presentation of Jefferson's passion for books. Though parts of Jefferson's life have come under fire, his passion for reading and his great knowledge no doubt benefited the country. He wrote the Declaration of Independence and was instrumental in starting The Library of Congress.

The quotes and sidebars added more detail to the story and totally convinced me that Jefferson was a true bibliophile.
Kelsey Yates
I've read other biographical picture books for kids, and I'm always so pleased to find ones that are fun and flow like a good story. This one does. The pictures are utter silliness. One of my favorites was the book stand on the horse's ears that supposedly enable one to read while riding. It presents a rosy view of Jefferson's life, which is appropriate given it's a children's book.
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