Books That Inspire

Books That Inspire 2012

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Noted American author and illustrator Howard Pyle once said, The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived. This year's twelfth annual Books That Inspire exhibit, in celebration of National Library Week, is a testament to this sentiment.

For this year’s exhibit, contributors were asked to identify works that stood out in their minds as having encouraged them to learn to read, sparked their imagination as a young reader, or promoted reading with the children in their lives. The overwhelming response to this call only reinforces what librarians have known for years—the right books in the hands of young readers can change lives.

For this year’s exhibit poster, I am photographed reading Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree to my 5-year-old grandson, Toby. The copy we were reading belonged to my daughter and is a copy I gave her when she was much younger. The book, now in Toby’s personal library, continues to inspire another generation of readers with its simple yet enduring message of love and sacrifice. As is the case with many of the titles in this year’s exhibit, the timeless classics of children's literature have inspired readers for generations and will likely continue to inspire for generations to follow.

This year’s selections present contemporary works alongside classic texts. Classic texts include Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Modern classics in the exhibit include Dr. Suess’s The Lorax, S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and Judy Blume's Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to this year’s exhibit sponsors. I am particularly grateful to the University of Oklahoma's Athletics Department for co-sponsoring the exhibit. The Athletics Department, under the leadership of Athletics Director Joe Castiglione, has been a partner and contributor providing unprecedented support to the exhibit since its inception in 2001. I would also like to offer my gratitude to those who have contributed to this year’s exhibit. I hope that you and your family will find similar inspiration from these selections of children’s literature.

Sul H. Lee
Dean, University Libraries
Peggy V. Helmerich Chair