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August 13 is the final day for participants of all ages to claim rewards and enter into the final drawings for Summer Reading incentives. Those who have completed the Teen Summer Reading Challenge can claim their free book at any of our three libraries or bookmobile stops. Finishers’ names will also be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire and other surprises!
If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (573) 443-3161. It has been a pleasure for our staff to work with the over 300 teens who participated in this year’s program!
Originally published at Summer Reading Ends August 13.
Have you ever been in a reading slump? Your to-be-read pile can be bursting with books you’ve been meaning to read, but nothing sounds good, or, once you start to read one, it just doesn’t stick. A slump happens to me occasionally, and I’m in one now. I’ve tried reading books from various genres, I’ve tried new authors, and I’ve even tried revisiting old favorites, but to no avail! So now I turn to you, fellow readers. I’ve gathered a few books that look promising and want your feedback so I can decide what to try next.
“A Man Called Ove” has been receiving praise as a New York Times bestseller. It’s quite popular here at DBRL, with a long holds list and more copies on order. This debut novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman tells the story of a cranky old man whose wife has recently died. His depression leads him to consider ending his own life, but when a young family moves in next door and runs over his mailbox, a comical string of interactions begins. This book is promised to be witty and heartwarming.
Martha Woodroof’s first novel, “Small Blessings,” is touted as a book for bookish people. Sign me up! The story follows Tom Putnam, an English professor with a wife who, because of an affair between Tom and a poetess a decade earlier, is a complete shut-in. When the two take part in a social engagement for the first time in a long while, Tom hopes that things are changing. However, when they return home, he finds a letter from the poetess telling him that he fathered a son, and the 10-year-old is on a train heading his way. The vibrant, quirky cast of characters carries this sweet tale of life and the unexpected.
One of my favorite authors is Alice Hoffman, so it’s surprising that I haven’t read this one yet: “The Marriage of Opposites” is an historical fiction novel about the mother of Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. Hoffman provides the readers with a slightly dysfunctional family saga taking place on the tropical island of St. Thomas. The main character, Rachel, is forced to marry an older man to save her father’s business. When she becomes a widow, she starts a scandalous, passionate affair with her late husband’s nephew. Their relationship affects her entire family, including her son, who would become known as the father of Impressionism.
Have you read any of these titles? Maybe you’ve been wanting to read one of the books I’m considering, but want another opinion on it before you take the plunge. I’ll write a review of whichever book you folks pick for me. Leave a comment so I can decide which book to read next!
“The Flicker Men” is about a troubled research physicist who stumbles on a surprising truth about the universe and the hidden mechanisms that run our everyday lives. In doing so he uncovers the invisible world of the Flicker Men and their influence on everything. I liked this book because it was real world science fiction with a lot of physics thrown in and because the author wasn’t afraid to go down some very deep physical and metaphysical tunnels.
Three words that describe this book: adventure, quantum physics, sci-fi
It’s my favorite LibraryReads list yet! Why, you may ask? Because this month’s list of forthcoming titles that librarians across the country recommend includes “Arrowood,” the latest from local author Laura McHugh. The novel follows Arden Arrowood as she returns to her declining Iowa hometown and her childhood home after a failed attempt at graduate school. She is haunted by the memory of her twin sisters, kidnapped from the front yard while they were in her care. McHugh is masterful when it comes to vividly rendering place and setting, as well as the psychology of her main characters. This novel is moody, atmospheric and melancholy with a delicious undercurrent of suspense. Place your hold now, and enjoy this month’s other recommendations!
“A Great Reckoning” by Lousie Penny
“Armand Gamache is back, and it was worth the wait. As the new leader of the Surete academy, Gamche is working to stop corruption at its source and ensure the best start for the cadets. When a copy of an old map is found near the body of a dead professor, Gamache and Beauvoir race against the clock to find the killer before another person dies. A terrific novel that blends Penny’s amazing lyrical prose with characters that resonate long after the book ends. Highly recommended.” – David Singleton, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC
“The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena
“This book is so full of twists and turns that my head was swiveling. Who took baby Cora? Marco and Anne decide to leave their baby home alone. After all, they share a wall with their neighbors, with whom they are partying. They would take turns checking in on her baby monitor. But when they return to their flat, the first thing they find is an open door and no Cora. Who’s to blame? Could it be an unlikely suspect that you won’t see coming? If you like a book that keeps you guessing until the very end, you won’t be disappointed.” – Debbie Frizzell, Johnson County Library, Roeland Park, KS
“Watching Edie” by Camilla Way
“Twisty psychological banter makes this book a thrill ride. Edie was the girl in high school who had it all. Heather was the awkward girl who wanted so badly to be accepted. That was high school, and now Edie is a single mom caught in a dead end job. She is about to lose it when Heather comes to her rescue. While Edie loves being able to get her life back, the hold that Heather has on her and the baby is disconcerting. The story jumps back and forth between past and present, and you will change your mind about their friendship right up to the last page.” – Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
And here’s the rest of the list for your holds-placing pleasure!
- “The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living” by Louise Miller
- “The Dollhouse” by Fiona Davis
- “The Book That Matters Most” by Ann Hood
- “Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris
- “First Star I See Tonight” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
- “Die Like An Eagle: A Meg Langslow Mystery” by Donna Andrews
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
Project Teen: Dance!
Friday, August 12, Noon-1:30 p.m.
Callaway County Public Library
A certified REFIT instructor will show you some dance steps then put them together with music. Follow along or bust out your own moves. After the workout, enjoy a slice of pizza. Dress for exercise. Ages 12-18.
Originally published at Project Teen: Dance!.
Congratulations to Naidra, a Southern Boone County Public Library patron, for winning our eighth Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble.
Adult Summer Reading is winding down, but you can still submit book reviews to increase your chances of winning one of our final drawings. Good luck and happy reading!
Pokémon Go is the latest app craze taking over the country. And while the game is gluing kids (of all ages) to their phones, this app has added a twist; it is used outside.
(For reference, outside is a magical place with a giant ball of energy in the sky and other life forms. It’s cool.)
Before we get into what the app does and how it works, let’s start by asking a question: what is a Pokémon?
Pokémon began as a video game back in the 1990s for the Nintendo Game Boy. From there it grew into a collectible card game, cartoons, toys and more. Pokémon are creatures in the wild that can be caught, trained and evolved. Trainers can also battle with their Pokémon against other trainers.
Now, here is how the app works:
You walk around a map of your area and use your device (typically a smartphone) to look for Pokémon. They appear, and your device vibrates to let you know.
Tapping on the Pokémon will bring up an interface where you throw balls to try and capture them.
If you are successful, then that Pokémon is registered to you. There are common Pokémon that will pop frequently, and some that will be uncommon or rare. Each Pokémon will have a CP, or Combat Power. The more powerful CP a Pokémon has, the tougher it could be to catch.
When you catch a Pokémon, you get candy for that particular type of Pokémon. This candy can be used to power up Pokémon to a higher CP and better health.
If you have several of the same type of Pokémon, you can Transfer them. This gives you more candy. After you gather enough of that candy, you can use it to to evolve Pokémon into bigger, stronger or more magical versions.
A Pokéstop is a landmark that has been designated by the game. Visiting a Pokéstop and spinning the picture will drop items you can use for catching and training your Pokémon.
A Gym in Pokémon Go is a place you can battle your Pokémon against others. Having a Pokémon at a gym will let you claim coins that can be used to buy items for the game.
There are 3 teams in Pokémon Go, Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Mystic (Blue) and Team Valor (Red). When you reach Level 5 in the game and visit a gym, you can decide which team you would like to join.
Gyms that are owned by another team can be battled and overtaken. You can put six of your Pokémon up against the gym and battle by attacking each of the Pokémon occupying the gym.
If a gym is owned by your team, you can train there. Training is the same as battling except you fight with only one Pokémon. If you successfully defeat enough of the Pokémon occupying the gym you can add one of yours to the gym and raise that gym’s level, making it harder for another team to take it over.
Eggs can be collected from Pokéstops, and these can be hatched into Pokémon by using an incubator and walking a certain distance. There are eggs that hatch at 2 km, 5 km and 10 km.
The game has an Augmented Reality (or AR) function that allows virtual elements of the game to appear in the real world using your device’s camera. This allows the trainer to experience trying to catch Pokémon in reality.
The game has been out less than a month, so be patient with glitches and server issues the creators are working on. Keep in mind that this game uses your devices’s data and location. It also uses a lot of your battery, so be prepared to charge often. Please be aware of your surroundings, and never, ever play Pokémon Go while driving.
This app is extremely fun, very addictive and a great way to increase your activity level, so get out there and try to catch them all!
Anyone familiar with Jeanette Winterson (“Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit“) has heard some of her story before. “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” is a memoir of a rough time with her family that leads to a level of hope and resilience that is inspirational and satisfying to read. I knew much of the author’s story from other books of hers, but it was compelling to hear her tell her own story in her own voice. I loved her description of wanting to be a big writer and her development as a feminist.
While Winterson ultimately leaves the fundamentalist Christian faith of her family, she doesn’t look back on it with complete harshness or despair. Instead, she describes religion and religious community as infusing life with something larger than mundane daily existence and providing a forum for discussion of philosophy, ethics and politics. Has religion moved away from these goals today?
I’m so glad to have had the chance to read this one.
Three words that describe this book: inspiring, heart-breaking, literary
You might want to pick this book up if: you want to read about the power of literature to bring redemption, you want to know more about this fabulous author, or you want to listen to an author read her own memoir.
The post Reader Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? appeared first on DBRL Next.
Running is a sport that attracts many people young and old. What drives them to run, and how has it transformed them as people? Check out these documentaries that give insight into different kinds of runners.
“Spirit of the Marathon” (2008)
A look at the Chicago Marathon, which stretches 26.2 miles, and the runners who participate from all walks of life, each with their own story. The film is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph — a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.
“Desert Runners” (2013)
A diverse group of non-professional runners attempt to complete the most difficult desert ultra-marathon series on Earth. Their intense journey takes them to the driest, windiest, hottest and coldest deserts in the world: the Atacama in Chile, the Gobi in China, the Sahara in Egypt and finally, Antarctica.
“My Run” (2011)
After losing his wife to breast cancer and struggling to raise his children, Terry Hitchcock had an idea. He wanted to accomplish the impossible by running 75 consecutive marathons in 75 consecutive days to bring attention to the incredibly difficult lives of single-parent families.
In his book “David and Goliath,” Gladwell outlines tales of the underdog and challenges the reader to view being the underdog as not always undesirable! There are advantages to being the underdog. He discusses examples of people rising from the loss of parents, dyslexia, mediocre colleges, persecution and political oppression. He uses a series of stories to outline his points. While not a scientific work, the stories are challenging to a typical worldview. Small is not always weak. Large is not always strong.
My favorite part of the book was the portion that described stories from famous and less famous black civil rights activists. We played this portion out loud to my teenage son, and it struck his interest as well. “Are these people real?” Wyatt Walker was described in the book as the Brer Rabbit of civil rights. He staged protests and riots with hopes of tricking authorities into arresting and causing a national scene to draw attention to racism and inequality. His strategies were very carefully thought out and enacted. In all ways he was an underdog, but he used that to his advantage.
Overall this was a fun read – full of anecdotes of unlikely successes. It will change how you view “the underdog.”
Three words that describe this book: underdog, nonfiction, hope
You might want to pick this book up if: If you enjoy critically thinking about your own world, this will be a fun read. It will help change your view of the underdog or facing life with disabilities, difficult upbringing, racism and a number of challenges.
We have only two drawings remaining this summer, so make sure you turn in any last minute book reviews to increase your chance of winning and keep your fingers crossed.
Finding a nice place in the shade with a good book is a great way to keep cool. And if that book happens to be set during the dead of winter, that’s even better. Here are some books that will chill you to your core on these hot days!
If a dark and icy-cold New England winter sounds perfect right about now, you should try Jennifer McMahon’s “The Winter People.” Set in a small town in Vermont, the novel recounts the mysterious murder of Sara Harrison Shea outside her home in 1908. A hundred years later, Ruthie, Fawn and their mother move into Sara’s old house. The girls find Sara’s diary hidden under the floor, revealing what may have actually happened to her. This sets into motion a series of horrific events that threaten to destroy their family. McMahon’s writing is spell-binding in this unique approach to the typical ghost story. You won’t want to put this one down!
Mount Everest is definitely colder than Missouri right now, making for an awesome book setting. In the 1920s, the world’s tallest peak still had not been summitted. The race to reach the top always ended at best in disappointment and at worst in tragedy, as in the case of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine who disappeared during a climb. In “The Abominable,” Dan Simmons tells the story of a group of adventurers in the late 1920s who set out against nearly impossible odds to reach the top the mountain. Their journey is fraught with difficulties — the cold and snow is expected, but the mysterious person or creature who seems to be pursuing them in the night is not. The book is tense and action-packed, full of nail-biting scenes as the climbers face off against unbelievable terrors. Simmons presents the tale as a “found manuscript,” intricately weaving historical figures and events into a fictional tale that will chill you to the bone.
Of course, on hot days like we’ve been experiencing, a blizzard doesn’t sound all that bad. Christopher Golden delivers not one, but two blizzards in his terrifying novel “Snowblind.” Several folks mysteriously die during the worst snowstorm the town of Coventry has seen in years. 12 years later, a new storm is blowing in and the ghosts of those lost seem to be returning. The story is told ensemble-style, which allows readers to fully immerse themselves into the horrors the townsfolk are experiencing, not only from the endless snowfall, but also from the evil the snow has brought with it. This is honestly one of the scariest books I’ve read in a long time.
Happy (and cool) reading!
The brain is not really a muscle, but there’s a lot of advice out there to treat it like one and exercise it. A huge industry has been built around this concept. But this post comes with a disclaimer: I recently read an article stating that “brain-training effects might be nothing more than placebo effects” and questioning how long those positive effects last. So you might think twice about spending a lot of money on brain-training programs and gurus, but there’s a lot you can find for free at the library to boost your brain power. What could it hurt to do a little mental calisthenics?
Now might be a good time to brush up on logic, fallacy and argument with the elections coming up and the pitches flying. It’s always nice to know when someone is making a deceptive, misleading or unsound argument, whether it’s a “straw-man” argument or “begging the question.” Jamie Whyte takes you on a humorous journey through various logical fallacies in “Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders.”
Brain teasers, puzzles, riddles and games are some of the most recommended ways of exercising your brain. Of course, chess has been touted pretty much forever as a brain changer, so you could try a general chess book or check out “The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science, and the Human Brain.” And there is one name that seems to stand out when it comes to games and puzzles — Will Shortz. Look for 150 of his favorite word puzzles in “Games Magazine Presents Will Shortz’s Best Brain Busters.”
If you would like to just boost your creativity a bit, Nick Bantock of the beautiful Griffin & Sabine books can guide you with creative exercises in “The Trickster’s Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity.” Bantock’s 49 exercises include a materials list and the time required. They are designed to “encourage you to forget your destination while you meander through the wondrous world that awaits you in the periphery of your mind’s eye.”
Memory boosting books have the best titles! How can you resist a title like “A Sheep Falls Out of a Tree“? My favorite is “Moonwalking With Einstein” by Joshua Foer I don’t know that this book will help me remember where I put my car keys, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about as far as the role of memory in culture and our relationships with others. Foer also provided a few fun tricks that really do work to remember random things. My favorite quote: “Our ability to find humor in the world, to make connections between previously unconnected notions, to create new ideas, to share in a common culture: All these essentially human acts depend on memory. Now more than ever, as the role of memory in our culture erodes at a faster pace than ever before, we need to cultivate our ability to remember. Our memories make us who we are. They are the seat of our values and source of our character.”
From my experience, if you want to keep your mind active, just read. Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” And to quote Neil Gaiman, “Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you and the things they claim are junk. You’ll find what you need to find. Just read.” I couldn’t agree more.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!“
“Kindred Spirits” is about a group of women who become the best of friends and establish their own society as a result of a failed Parent Teacher Association meeting. Their society (The Society for the Conservation of Martinis!) is based on their friendship and having fun together. The story follows the women through the quick death of one and a journey by her best friends to find the secret she never shared. Sarah Strohmeyer’s characters are “real women” I related to. Their journey together shows the true meaning of friendship.
Three words that describe this book: friendship, love, understanding
You might want to pick this book up if: You might want to read this book if you enjoy Sarah Strohmeyer’s writing. She has created another group of wonderful characters who are fun-loving and know the true meaning of being friends to the end.
Family lore has it that my maternal grandfather, Erwin, loved-loved-loved ice cream. He made it regularly during Georgia’s hot summer months, out in the back yard with his wooden, hand-cranked ice cream maker. It looked very much like this. People who knew him considered him to be a very generous soul, but not so when it came to sharing his ice cream. He didn’t want to do that with anyone outside his immediate family (his wife and daughter). My grandmother recalled he would lower the blinds and draw the curtains in the house on the days he was making ice cream, to make it look like there was no one home. That way he could avoid any drop-in visitors who might catch him in the act and compel him to share his beloved frozen concoction.
I was fortunate to witness his ice cream making wizardry and to taste the finished product of his efforts just once (he passed away not too much longer after that). I was young, about 3 years old, and my family was visiting in the blazing heat of the summer. Sweet yellow peaches were on tap, and that is what he used that day in his ice cream recipe. Watching the whole production — the pouring of the mixed ingredients into the metal canister, the packing of the canister into the wooden bucket with chunks of ice and rock salt, and then the cranking of the handle to churn the dasher inside the canister — made a huge impression on my young senses. And most certainly, the explosion of peachy sweet, cold, creamy, custard-like ice cream on my young taste buds was a life-changing experience.
Part of the satisfaction of making your own ice cream is tailoring the ingredients to indulge your taste buds in ways that can’t be done with store-bought ice cream. (For example, my family once made lavender chocolate chip ice cream, having infused the cream with fresh lavender leaves — wow, what a taste sensation that was!) Also, hand-cranking ice cream is a fun activity to do with a group, partially because the work of cranking can be spread out among many (yes, elbow grease is required, especially as the ice cream mix thickens), but also because ice cream is a celebratory food and more fun to share with others. (Sorry, Granddad!)
You can purchase a brand new hand-crank ice cream maker. I just checked online and saw several brands. There are antique and/or used ones for sale as well, and you can even cheat and use an electric ice cream maker, if worse comes to worst. So, you have options, should you decide to get serious about this.
Here at DBRL we want to support you in this happy endeavor. On July 23, at the Columbia Public Library branch, children and their parents will have a chance to make their own ice cream, during the program Olympian Food: Ice Cream. While not using an ice cream-making machine, the method employed will still use ice and salt to help transform the ingredients into the blessed, calcium-rich treat. And, you can browse through books galore on everything ice cream, including books with basic and high-end designer ice cream recipes, dairy-free and vegan ice cream recipes, and other treats to make using ice cream, like sandwiches, sundaes and floats.
If you haven’t had the experience of making ice cream the old-fashioned way, don’t let this simple but exquisite pleasure pass you by. It really does yield the best ice cream there is to eat, and it can really help to deal with this summer heat. Bon appétit!
Don’t diet. It won’t work. Okay, maybe you’ll lose a few pounds, but chances are you will gain them back (and maybe a few extra besides). In “Secrets From the Eating Lab,” Traci Mann, Ph.D. explains why and the research she used to develop her conclusions. She can also cite studies that show that losing weight does not improve one’s health. She does suggest ways to increase your intake of healthy foods, avoid the less healthy ones and increase the amount you exercise. These activities have been shown to improve health. With plenty of footnotes and a few humorous personal notes, Mann makes sense of the research and gives you suggestions of ways to improve your health without focusing on your weight.
Three words that describe this book: informative, humorous, life-changing
You might want to pick this book up if: you’ve ever been on a diet or thought about going on a diet.
Cosplay Costume Con
Monday, August 8 › 6-8 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
Dress up as your favorite character, be it superhero, anime, sci-fi or your own original persona. Photos and registration will begin at 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. by the runway show. We’ll award prizes for the best costumes and characterization in different age categories, so be ready to show off your cosplay game! All ages.
Originally published at Cosplay Costume Con in Three Weeks!.
If you’re looking for a grim, unputdownable book to block the blistering and incessant shine of the July sun, look no further. Paul Tremblay’s “A Head Full of Ghosts” is the sort of book you read in one sitting (assuming you have sufficient free time, or a willingness/compulsion to prioritize pleasure over obligations, and also that you are not a big ol’ chicken (cause it’s scary)).
“A Head Full of Ghosts” is about a young girl that is either possessed by the devil or by mental illness. (Evidence mounts for both possibilities, and when you’re certain you’ve got it all sussed out, you’re probably still going to have your mind changed a couple of times.) Her family, exhausted both mentally and financially, agrees to allow a reality television crew to film the devil’s/mental illness’s exploits. (It’s surprising that there isn’t already a “reality” television show about possessions, but this book gives us a pretty good idea of what one would look like.)
More than a decade after the possession debacle and the short-lived but successful television series, the possessed girl’s younger sister is being interviewed by a hotshot writer for a tell-all bestseller. The younger sister’s story is relayed through this framework and intercut with blog posts from the world’s foremost authority on the reality television show made about the possession. (The identity of the blogger is revealed early on, and makes for one of many moments in the book that’ll make you say, “Veritably! Now that’s some fine crafting of fiction. This novel brings me pleasure, and I am glad that I forsook sleep and a supposedly necessary medical procedure in order to find the time to partake of its literary fruits.”)
Another spectacular thingy that happens: very early in the novel a character’s quirk is revealed, a cute detail, but it couldn’t be anything crucial, right? No. Instead it is a key to the novel’s devastating ending. The sort of ending that makes you want to comfort fictional characters and perhaps attempt to construct life-size replicas of the characters so that you can properly hug them and even forge a relationship with the hat-wearing sack of hay that you’ve drawn a face on, a relationship that progresses to the point where you’re asking it to, with horrific consequences, transport you home from your various necessary medical procedures.
If you’re in the mood for something a little lighter, do not read Tremblay’s newest novel, “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.” It is about a child’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock. It is a sad, tricky book that makes you think one thing is happening until it makes you think another thing is happening, until it tells you most of what is really happening.
“Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye,” in addition to being a description of British cuisine (haha, I WENT THERE, rimshot, etc.), is a much different novel. A desperate man signs a contract that makes him an indentured servant for an “amusement park” called FARM, which is where people go to see actual plants and animals, as well as people dressed like animals. This novel is frequently funny, as the author always is in interviews, but it also features a scene that manages to be as simultaneously heartbreaking and disgusting as anything I’ve ever read. Read it; share my burden.
Congratulations to Andrew of Ashland on winning our sixth Adult Summer Reading 2016 prize drawing. He is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.
If you have not registered for the library’s Adult Summer Reading program, you can still do so online or by visiting any of our locations. Once you sign up, you are automatically entered in the prize drawings. Also, don’t forget to submit book reviews to increase your odds of winning. (That’s what this week’s winner did!) There are plenty of drawings left this summer, so keep reading and sharing your reviews with us!
This year, our country is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Parks System, deemed by writer Wallas Stegner as “America’s best idea.”And it sure has been. Who hasn’t heard about Yosemite, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, to name a few? People from all over the world come to the U.S. to visit these unique places. Yet as much as all of us admire our national parks, let’s not forget that Missouri has an abundance of wonderful parks, too.
The movement for establishing the Missouri park system began at the turn of the century, although the Missouri General Assembly did not create a state park fund until 1917. In 1924, the state made its first acquisitions — Big Spring and Round Spring on the Current River, Alley Spring on the Jacks Fork, Bennett Springs on the Niagua River, Deep Run near Ellington and Indian Trail near Salem. And in 2013, the state made its 88th acquisition — Echo Bluff.
Big Spring, Alley Spring and Round Spring are no longer in the state system but they are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. As for Echo Bluff, it will officially open its grounds at the end of the month.
One of the things that has made the Missouri State Parks system so successful is the diversity of the state’s natural resources: some of the oldest rocks on the continent and the youngest landforms are found here, as well as a multitude of caves and natural springs.
Missouri’s flora also varies widely. Tall grass prairies are found to the west and woodlands to the east. Missouri also includes the southern limit of northern boreal plants and the northern limit of southern coastal plants.
The cultural diversity of Missouri mimics its natural diversity. Because of its location at the junction of the two longest North American rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, our state played a leading role in the country’s history. Here, native people made contact with mastodons and they lived in both woodlands and prairies for more than ten thousand years. Key sites of the Osage, Missouria and Illiniwek are found in the state.
A rich agricultural state, Missouri is also known as the birthplace of many prominent people, including George Washington Carver, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harry Truman and Thomas Hart Benton. And in the 20th century, the state excels at creating a wonderful system of parks and historical sites. In fact, the mission of the Division of State Park states:
“preserve and interpret the finest examples of Missouri’s natural landscapes; preserve and interpret the finest example of Missouri’s cultural landmarks; and provide healthy and enjoyable outdoor recreation opportunities for all Missourians and visitors to the state.”
And so, for nearly 100 years, the state parks have been doing just that, preserving nature and history and by doing so attracting people from around here and also from afar.
Enjoy the ghostly silhouette of the Ha Ha Tonka Castle, hike Taum Sauk Mountain, fish for trout in Bennett Springs, explore the caverns of Onondaga, take a float trip down Current River, and don’t forget to leave everything exactly the way you found it — pristine and inviting. Free for us all.
Celebrate the centennial of our state park system at the Columbia Public Library on July 18 at 7 p.m. with a presentation by Susan Flader. Flader is professor emerita of environmental and western history at the University of Missouri and editor and co-author of the beautiful newly updated book, “Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites: Exploring Our Legacy.”