TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Angela Burke Kunkel

Angela Burke Kunkel on Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

In this post, we feature author Angela Burke Kunkel. You can hear her speak about the inspiration for her debut picture book, Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, and try her fun “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Author Angela Burke Kunkel and the cover of her book Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built.

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

  • Written by Angela Burke Kunkel, illustrated by Paola Escabar
  • Published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
  • Release date: September 8, 2020

In the city of Bogatá, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, live two Josés. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays, when he gets to visit the library called Paradise. The second José is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, searching household trash for hidden treasure: books! Some are stacked in neat piles, as if waiting for José. Others take a bit more digging to find. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, he’s been collecting them. And on Saturdays, kids like little José run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder. With dynamic illustrations by a Colombian artist, this picture book is a celebration of perseverance, community, and the power of books.

An interior image from Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, written by Angela Burke Kunkel and illustrated by Paola Escobar, showing the book's subject driving his garbage truck through Bogota searching for books.
An interior image from Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, written by Angela Burke Kunkel and illustrated by Paola Escobar, showing the book's subject surrounded by a lush, imagined landscape that reflects what he's reading in a book.

Explore Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

Listen to Angela Burke Kunkel talking with TeachingBooks about creating Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.


Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Angela Burke Kunkel.

Imagination Activity with Angela Burke Kunkel

In Digging for Words, José helps solve a community problem when he begins collecting books: before he opens his doors, there is no library in La Nueva Gloria. Think about where you live. Name a problem that you see. What are some ways that you might be able to help or even solve this problem?


Finish This Sentence . . . with Angela Burke Kunkel

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Angela Burke Kunkel’s response.

“A surprising thing that helps me work is . . .”

A surprising thing that helps me work is walking and baking. It seems that good ideas always pop up when I’m doing something else!

“While working on this latest project I was surprised to learn . . .”

While working on this latest project, I was surprised to learn that the real-life José went back to school in his fifties. He finished his high-school diploma later in life, which is no easy feat, but it shows how much he values education and learning.

“Where I work is . . .”

Where I work is in a room in my house, very early in the morning. One of my dogs, Jack, always insists on being curled up under the desk. If I’m writing, that means Jack is at my feet, snoring away.

Author Angela Burke Kunkel's dog, Jack, sleeping under her desk.

Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Angela Burke Kunkel for signing a book for all of us!

The title page from Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, written by Angela Burke Kunkel and illustrated by Paola Escobar, signed by the author with the message, "Keep reading, keep digging!"

More Connections to Angela Burke Kunkel and Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built


Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Angela Burke Kunkel, Paola Escobar, and Random House Children’s Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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  1. Digging for Words: Jose Alberto Gutierrez and the Library He Built – The Library Mouse Tales - November 3, 2020

    […] You can listen to an interview with the book author here […]

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