Thoko’s first library book

Thoko walked into the library with Gogo. She liked the smell of the new building. She liked the shelves of books and shiny tables. Today, she hoped to find something special to read. A storybook … with pictures!

She held Gogo’s warm hand as they walked into the room where all the children’s books were kept. A lady at a desk looked up and smiled. She wore a little badge. On it was written, “Li-bra-ri-an”.

“Thoko would like to borrow a book from the library,” said Gogo.

“Does Thoko have a library card?” asked the librarian. Thoko shook her head. “Well, you can get a library card to take out books after your Gogo has filled out a form,” said the librarian.

Gogo sat down on a little yellow chair at a little green table and started to fill in the form. Thoko sat on a red chair and looked around. There were lots of different coloured tables and chairs. On the walls were lots of colourful pictures and posters. On the shelves were lots and lots and lots of books.


“I like it here,” whispered Thoko. Gogo looked up and smiled.


“Why don’t you find a nice book to take home,” said Gogo.


Thoko walked around the room slowly. Some books were on shelves too high for her to reach. Some she could reach, but they had too many words and no pictures.


“Let me show you where the picture books are kept, Thoko,” said the nice librarian, whose name was Nadia. Thoko followed Nadia to shelves that were just the right height for her.

“Take your time,” said Nadia. “I’m sure you’ll find just the right book for yourself.”

“Take your time,” said Nadia. “I’m sure you’ll find just the right book for yourself.”


By the time Gogo handed in the form, Thoko had found just the right book – a book about a mouse, a fox, an owl, a snake AND a terrible monster with horns and tusks.


“This looks very scary. Let’s see if there’s one that won’t give you nightmares,” said Gogo. Gogo found a book with a pretty cover. It had a picture of a fairy in a pink ballet dress and glittery wings.


“This looks like a lovely book,” said Gogo. But Thoko shook her head. She knew what she liked and she knew what she wanted. So, she held tightly onto her book.


“Ah, everyone likes that book,” said the librarian when she saw which book Thoko had chosen. Thoko looked carefully as her book was stamped with the date that she would have to bring it back. “There you go!” said Nadia, handing Thoko her first library book and her first library card.


“Now you are a member of the library,” said Nadia. Thoko was very happy!


“Carry the book nicely,” said Gogo as they left.


That book! What a story! What pictures! Even Gogo said it was the best children’s story she had ever read. And when Thoko told the children at school about the book, they all wanted to see the pictures too.


So, one Friday, Thoko took the library book to school for Mrs Rhode, her teacher, to read and show the pictures. The children laughed and loved the story, especially Themba, who wanted it to be read again and again. But Mrs Rhode closed the book and gave it to Thoko to put back safely in her bag.


That evening at bedtime, Gogo said, “Thoko, tomorrow is the day we have to take your library book back to the library. So, tonight will be the last night for us to read that funny story.” Excitedly, Thoko opened her bag, but the library book was not there!


“Oh, Thoko,” said Gogo, “you must have left it at school!”

“No,” said Thoko, “I put it in my bag when Mrs Rhode gave it back to me!”


Thoko wanted to cry. What would the librarian say if she didn’t take her book back the next day? Then she did start to cry!


“Who would take it from your bag?” asked Gogo. Thoko thought and thought.


“Themba Nombela!” cried Thoko. “He loved the story so much he wanted it to be read again and again!”


“Does Themba steal?” asked Gogo.


“Themba sometimes takes things without asking, but he always brings them back,” answered Thoko.


The next morning, Gogo and Thoko went to the Nombela’s house to see if Themba had the library book.


“Yes,” said Themba, “I meant to give it back, but Linzi Dube borrowed it from me.”


So Themba showed Gogo and Thoko where the Dube’s lived. When they reached the house, Linzi was there … but not the book!


“Tata has it,” said Linzi. “He can’t read, but he wanted to look at the pictures.”


So off went Linzi, Themba, Thoko and Gogo to Tata’s house. They found him sitting outside his front door laughing his head off.


“Ha, ha, ha! Linzi, this book is too, too funny! I am enjoying it very much,” said the old man. Gogo explained that the book belonged to the library and that they only had a few minutes to get it back to the library on time.

Thoko had never seen Gogo walk so fast. But when they reached the library, the door was closed. Gogo read the notice and said, “It will only open again on Monday.”


“But Gogo, the librarian will be very cross because the book must be back today.”


“Don’t worry about it,” said Gogo. “I will explain to the librarian what happened. I am sure she will understand what can happen when a book is as nice as this one is. Everyone wants to read it! And until Monday comes, we can enjoy it a bit more.”


When Monday afternoon came, Gogo and Thoko took the book to the library. Nadia noticed that it was late. But when Gogo explained why they could not bring it back on time, Nadia smiled and said, “That’s a wonderful story! Thoko, next time, bring your friends to join the library … and Linzi’s grandfather too. We teach people to read on Friday mornings.”


And that’s exactly what happened.


Not only Themba who loves to borrow books, but Linzi and lots of Thoko’s school friends have joined the library. And so did Linzi’s grandfather! He likes the new words he learns to read every Friday. But the books he likes most of all, are the ones with pictures that make him laugh!