Luis loves to read, but soon his house in Colombia is so full of books there’s barely room for the family. What to do? Then he comes up with the perfect solution–a traveling library! He buys two donkeys–Alfa and Beto–and travels with them throughout the land, bringing books and reading to the children in faraway villages.

Featured in WOW Review Volume XII, Issue 3

7 thoughts on “Biblioburro

  1. Castrodad & Parker says:

    My Take: Patricia Castrodad
    While thinking about the theme of Libraries around the world, I began to inquire and found that this book, Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia by Jeannette Winter, had been written or translated to Spanish. So, I read the Spanish version first and then the English version.
    I wondered about the translation, if it was first published in Spanish or vice versa. When I finished reading I found out that both where published the same year 2010 and that the translation to Spanish is from Spain. Interesting, since most books are first published in English and then after a few years it is published in the language where the story is set. Nonetheless, I found a literal translation from English to Spanish but, I think the Spanish text flows. This means, according to my reading experience, that the language of the text is very well thought and makes meaning. Therefore, I think that any Latin American country could make sense of the text.
    Another interesting aspect of this version of the story, compared to Waiting for the Biblioburro written by Monica Brown, is that it depicts situations such as encountering a bandit on the way to deliver books, and Beto the burro not wanting to move and having to force him to get going because the children were waiting for the books. Probably, these are the situations that Luis Soriano encountered on his way to La Gloria to deliver books to that community. However, Brown’s version of the story evoked in me a sense of the importance of books in our lives and community but also, in becoming readers and writers.
    Which story would be considered “authentic”?
    My Take: Ann Parker
    It’s interesting to hear about the Spanish version/translation of this book, since I did my dissertation on bilingual children’s books published by small, independent publishers. I spoke with editors about the translation process and how they ensure that the original work remains “authentic” once it is translated, whether English is the original or translated version. One example of how difficult this is is to think about how to preserve the rhyme and rhythm of The Cat in the Hat when translating it into another language.
    That said, I’m glad that Patricia found that both versions flowed well and stayed true to the story. Usually, the author of a book does not provide the translation of a book, but more and more authors are writing bilingual books where they include two or more languages. I wonder how much Spanish Jeanette Winters speaks?
    The difference I see between the two books is that, while they are both based in fact, Winter’s book is more of a biography of Soriano, while Brown’s book creates a fictional little girl so she can explore the impact Soriano’s idea had on children. To me, both are authentic in that they convey to the reader the the ideas that one person can change the world, one book and one child at a time, no matter what his situation or resources, and that, as Patricia says, books are important to all of us.

  2. Mia Hood says:

    Jeanette Winter tells the story of a man named Luis who loved reading books. He decides that he can share the many books he has read with children in towns far away by commissioning two donkeys to carry him and the books. Luis’s story—which is based on a true story that Winter includes at the end—portrays reading positively for all students and emphasizes the importance of reading, sharing knowledge, and education in general. Even though Luis encounters obstacles like a bandit, he persists. When he reads a book about pigs to the children and brings them pig masks to wear, we see a kind of reading that is less serious and academic and more playful and imaginative. These portrayals of reading, along with the true story on which this books is based, combine to send a powerful message to young readers about the purposes of reading within a larger social community.

  3. Dreyer says:

    I just loved this book! I read it to my Kindergarten class and they enjoyed the simple story about Luis and his books. We talked about what was important to Luis. The students told me books were important. They said this becuase he had lots of books in his house and he brought books to kids who didn’t have any books. Reading was also important and they said. They knew this because he read books to the children, and he read the books and kept getting more books. We also talked about what was important to the children. My students said the books were important. (I asked a couple of questions to get them to realize some of this.) The children read the books even when they were supposed to be in bed. Also in the story the children held the books close to themselves after they had gotten to pick a book from his library. I helped them infer that Luis was important also because they ran to greet him when he came to the village and he helped the children by bringing them books so they could read.

  4. I read this book to my 4th graders before library to try to inspire them to start making whole hearteed efforts at picking books. (It seemed like they fought over the same ones every week) After reading about Luis’ passion for books and his determination to get them to the people so he could read them my students began to put how important reading was in to a different perspective. They also made connections to how enjoyable it is to be read to. This is one of my class’ (and mine) favorite times of the day. They really enjoyed the colorful pictures and the idea of a traveling library. This book influence my class so much that they now call themselves the bibliotrain when when all are in line walking back to class from Library. Some students even wanted to volunteer to read their book or books to a kinder or first grade buddy. There were many good connections that were made and the pictures were bright and colorful. Students were captivated from beginning to end.

  5. Emma Witkovsky says:

    Biblioburro, by Jeanette Winter, is a touching true story of a generous man and his “traveling” library. When Luis does not know what to do with his collection of books, he thinks and thinks, and decides to buy two donkeys and take the books to the faraway hills to share with the children. Each time he travels to the children, he allows them to borrow one book that the donkeys carry, and each time they also return their previous books.
    I read this book to my kindergartners a few days after their first library experience and they were able to connect with the concept of borrowing and returning books. As a class we are also learning how we can work together as a community. My students were able to connect with this book in a couple of different ways, and they all loved learning and seeing the differences of their living situation and Luis’.

  6. Kristina Green says:

    The book, Biblioburro was a very touching and surreal book. Jeanette Winter writes an inspiring true story about a man who loves books. Because Luis loves books, he has too many to keep at home with him so he decides to take his two burros, Beto and Alfa, across the land to faraway villages to share with children to have no books. One burro carries Luis as they travel and the other burro carries the books. The looks on the children’s faces were very touching and instantly, you could tell how much they appreciated Luis. The children are allowed to borrow one book until Luis returns the following weekend to exchange for another book. This touching story is a great and engaging way to show how children live in other areas of the world, not just what we are used to where we live. This story also shows how one person can truly make a difference in the lives of others.
    I read this story to my class of first graders. They were amazed and shocked at where Luis lived. They were curious and were engaged throughout the whole story. They had a lot of questions, but by the end their questions were answered and we all were very thankful for Luis and his kindness to others. Biblioburro allowed for my students to take a step back and look at their lives to see what they are doing to make a difference like Luis did because they felt that what he was doing for the children of the village was something that we could do here in the states.

  7. Tracy Smiles says:

    “Deep in the jungles of Columbia, there lives a man who loves books. His name is Luis.” This charming book by Jeanette Winter recounts the true story of Luis Soriano, a man who resides in a remote town of northern Columbia. An avid reader who, as Winter explains, “understood the transformative power of reading because of his experiences as a schoolteacher,” wanted to share his collection of books with children living in secluded mountain villages. With his two burros, Alpha and Beto, he traveled (and continues to travel) through rugged jungles, over mountains, encountering thieves and struggling with his stubborn pack animals, he brings books to the children.
    This is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. It encapsulates how a simple act of generosity can impact children and youth in profoundly important ways, unleashing unforeseen goodness into the World. Winters notes that through donations from others inspired by his charitable work his small collection of 70 books has now grown to over 4,800 books and that every weekend he sets out to share these books with over 300 children. This book beautifully tells the story of a literacy hero. Who are some other literacy heroes you have read about that inspire you?

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