Review + Teachers’ Notes: ‘Midnight at the Library’

Home » Review + Teachers’ Notes: ‘Midnight at the Library’

There is much to love about ‘Midnight at the Library’ the most obvious reason being that it is about the wonder of libraries and is by two of Australia’s most acclaimed book creators. The book was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Australia and ‘the role of libraries everywhere as custodians of history, heritage and imagination’.

Title: Midnight at the Library
Author:  Ursula Dubosarsky
Illustrator: Ron Brooks
Publisher: NLA Publishing (National Library of Australia)
Age Range: lower primary, middle primary and book lovers of all ages.
Themes: libraries, books, book production, book printing, book preservation, printing press.

Click on title links or cover image to purchase.

‘Midnight at the Library’ is perfect bedtime reading material with just a hint of mystery and it is also a book to be savoured and studied and pondered. The fascinating history of ‘the book’ – from creation to preservation to it’s value as a shared societal resource through libraries makes this a story for classroom curriculum use (see teachers’ notes below) as well as recreational reading. Carefully chosen words, paired with exquisite illustrations – Dubosarsky and Brooks have created a book (about books) which will be treasured always.

Image source: Booktopia

Follow it Up in the Home, Classroom or Library

Teachers’ Notes prepared by teacher Melissa Kroeger for Children’s Books Daily in context with the Australian Curriculum.

Title: Midnight at the Library
Author:  Ursula Dubosarsky
Illustrator: Ron Brooks

Image Source: Booktopia


  • English
  • Visual Arts
  • HASS


  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Intercultural Understanding



  1. Read the title and display the front cover. Ask the following questions:
  • What is a library?
  • What libraries have you visited?
  • What would you find and what would you see at a library?
  • What do you think midnight in a library would be like? Scary? Fun?
  • What would you do in a library at midnight?
  • What is the illustration of on the front cover? Does it have two meanings?

2. To discover more about the author, Ursula Dubosarsky, and the illustrator, Ron Brooks, turn to the back of the book.

3. Look at the end papers! Do you think you could count all the books? Can you see anything else in the picture – look closely!

Read the book

  • Take note of the illustrations and the different artistic styles that Ron Brooks uses: surrealism, modernism, impressionism, realism, collage and photography.


Content Description: ACELT1575 Recognise that texts are created by authors who tell stories and share experiences that may be similar or different to students’ own experiences


  • recognising that there are storytellers in all cultures
  • comparing experiences depicted in stories with students’ own
  • engaging with texts that reflect the social and cultural groups to which students belong


Content Description: ACAVAM108 Create and display artworks to communicate ideas to an audience


  • sharing ideas with their classmates about the representational choices they made in their artwork
  • Considering viewpoints – meanings and interpretations: For example – What did this artwork or design make you think about and why? What figures/shapes can you see in the artwork? How has the artist treated the figures/shapes to convey their idea or meaning?
  • making a decision about how to display their artwork to share their ideas

Ask the students:

  1. What happened in the story?
  • The boy thought of a story
  • The boy wrote the story down
  • It was turned into a book
  • The book was shared around the world
  • The book was lost and found and read by many
  • Then it was put into a library and was safe forevermore
  1. What would an old book look like?
  2. Have you ever seen a very old book?
  3. Do you have a book or have you seen a book in another language? What was the story about?
  4. Discuss how folk tales and legends are told and passed down from generation to generation.
  5. Do you know a folktale or legend? Who told it to you?


  1. Think of a story that is your favourite (this could be from a book or a story told to you).
  2. Now draw a picture about it. You could draw your favourite part of the story.
  3. Tell your classmates about why you chose to draw this picture and what is in the picture.
  4. Students decide how to display their art work.


Content Description: ACHASSI018 Pose questions about past and present objects, people, places and events


  • posing questions with the stems ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ about families, celebrations, places and the weather
  • asking questions before, during and after listening to stories about people and places and about their past and present
  • preparing questions for parents and members of older generations about how they lived in the past, where they lived and the places they value
  • collecting and displaying everyday objects (for example, toys, telephone, radio, cooking utensils, clothes) and other sources (for example, photos, found objects, maps, observation sketches) to stimulate ‘Where’, ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘How’ and ‘Why?’ questions

Discuss with the students:

  1. In the story ‘Midnight at the Library’ the little gold book disappeared and was found again and again.
  • Were there clues in the book to help us to follow and find the little gold book? What were they? Relook at some of the pages.
  • On the page where the book travelled by many forms of transport, take a look at the illustrations. Are the modes of transport modern? How do you know? So how long ago do you think it was?
  • On the page where the book was nearly burned, what tells us on that page that was a long time ago? How long ago was it?
  • We were like detectives trying to follow the little gold book.

Activity: Time for you to be a detective!

  1. Think of someone in your family or a close friend who is older.
  2. Compile a list of questions to ask them about. Some of these may help:
  • How they lived in the past
  • Where they lived in the past
  • Places they value
  • How times have changed
  • What were books like in the past
  • Did they have any special toys
  • Use how, what, where, why and when questioning
  1. Write your list of questions and interview that person. Write their responses/have them write their response on your list of questions.
  2. Ask if they have any objects from their childhood still and if you could bring them to school to display in the class and tell your classmates about it.

Take it further:

Ask grandparents/ older generation family and friends to join you at school to bring in their objects and/or talk about their past to the class to stimulate questioning (practice ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ questions). Students could introduce their special family member or friend with one thing they learnt about them from their interview. To make it even more special turn it into a morning tea where all children bring in a shared plate of food!


Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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