Catching Up With the Classics: The Secret Garden

Posted on Monday, February 6, 2023 by Adam

The Secret Garden Book CoverPublished in 1911, Frances Hodgson Burnett’sThe Secret Garden” has been a perennial classic of children’s literature for over a century, inspiring multiple stage and film adaptations, including the popular and acclaimed Hollywood movie version from 1993. And though I remember seeing the 1987 television movie version as a kid, I had never read the book until now. Continue reading “Catching Up With the Classics: The Secret Garden”

Make Your Own Clay Conversation Hearts

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2023 by Grae

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means you’ve probably already encountered plenty of heart-shaped items in stores across town, from pillows to candles to cookware and, of course, candy, candy, candy. Growing up as a future poet and all-around word nerd, I was always drawn to the snippets of love language stamped on Brach’s tiny conversation hearts, even though the actual taste and texture of these chalky candies left MUCH to be desired. (Sidebar: wintergreen and banana flavoring in the same package??? XOXO, no.) This year, instead of falling into the same old nostalgic trap of thinking “hmmm, maybe this time these hearts will be both adorable and delicious” (which they just never are), I decided to get my fill in a different way: by making my own long-lasting conversation hearts out of bakeable clay!


To make your own conversation hearts, you will need the following:

  • Oven-bake polymer clay, in Valentine’s and/or Brach’s colors like red, pink, yellow, orange or pastel purples and greens (or whatever colors you like!)
  • A cutting board or clean work surface
  • A paring knife or craft knife
  • Small metal alphabet stamps and/or toothpicks to draw your own letters in the clay

Photo of materials needed to make your own clay conversation heart: a silver sheet of construction paper (i.e., clean work surface), two toothpicks, a set of metal alphabet stamps, two blocks of oven-bake polymer clay (one in lilac, the other in red), and three black plastic clay sculpting tools including a plastic craft knife. Continue reading “Make Your Own Clay Conversation Hearts”

Counting In 2023

Posted on Monday, January 30, 2023 by Grae

We are now just shy of one month into the new year of 2023, a dazzling number that perhaps seems more at home in futuristic science-fiction stories than IRL. To help you (and myself if I’m being honest) wrap your mind around the sheer mundane magnitude of those four digits — and the two thousand and twenty-three years since the beginning of the Common Era that they represent — I’ve got a math-tastic list of stories and resources to practice and polish that most elementary and essential art of counting. 🔢

Room For Everyone

Cover page of the picture book Room For Everyone, featuring various Zanzibari people and their wares (including baskets of fruit, pails of milk, loose live chickens and dead fish) joyously riding a daladala, a shared minibus. Continue reading “Counting In 2023”

Ice Suncatcher

Posted on Thursday, January 26, 2023 by Robyn

Did you know the Iñupiat have more than 100 names for different kinds of sea ice? Although Mid-Missouri doesn’t get — and stay — as cold as places like Alaska, we still experience an array of winter precipitation. This time of year calls many of us to stay cozy inside, and I respect that. But, it can also be fun to bundle up, take a short walk and come back inside for something warm like hot chocolate or tea. I invite you to venture outdoors with any little ones around. Look in all directions as you walk, keeping an eye open for twigs, acorns, pine needles etc. that have fallen on the ground. When you come back inside, warm up with a yummy drink and gather ‘round to make an ice suncatcher you can later hang outside. 

Tip: This project can be used as a hands-on opportunity to talk about the water cycle

Continue reading “Ice Suncatcher”

Eagle Days in Missouri

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2023 by Beth

As I wrote last month, I have been thinking a lot lately about family traditions. Growing up, my siblings and I spent car rides looking out the window for Volkswagen Beetles. I loved being the first to spot one because the game opened up a wormhole of permissible behavior and allowed me a single sharp punch to a competitor’s shoulder while yelling “slug bug!”

Casual violence aside, fewer Beetles are on the road these days and we needed a new car activity. The game we came up with is best played on long winter car rides when bare trees and gray skies provide optimal conditions. We call the game “BOP,” because when we see a bird of prey (a.k.a. a BOP), usually perched on the power lines that run along Interstate 70, we yell BOP! And that’s pretty much it.

The game’s simplicity belies its appeal — recently my five-year-old son spotted a red-tailed hawk on the hunt, and as he screamed BOP!!!! at full volume. We all watched the brown, gold and red mosaic of widely stretched wings swoop down from a tall tree. It was magical!

This sight would be a BOP home run: two adult eagles perch on powerlines. Image courtesy of Raptor Resource Project, where you can learn more about the importance of safe powerlines for our bird friends.

Continue reading “Eagle Days in Missouri”

Indoor Ice Fishing

Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2023 by Katie

I found this fun experiment when searching for indoor winter activities and was thrilled with the creative use of a few household items. Preschoolers and school-age children can use this activity to study science, and it’s really fun. As a bonus, you probably already have everything needed, setup is quick and any mess created can be easily wiped away.

The prep for indoor ice fishing is relatively simple. Each fisher will need a bowl half-full of water, ice cubes, string and salt.

Image of ice fishing materials

Continue reading “Indoor Ice Fishing”

How to Build a Hug

Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2023 by Adam

Hugs are one of the most common ways to show affection and love, and there are many different kinds of hugs: front hugs; side hugs; group hugs; bear hugs; romantic hugs. Many kids love getting hugs from their parents, grandparents, siblings or friends, though (as we’ll see in some of the books in this list) not all do, which is why it’s important to ask if you’re not sure whether someone wants to be hugged. So, in honor of National Hugging Day, which is celebrated on January 21st, here are a handful of books about hugs that the library has to offer:

A hug between a parent and child can be one of the sweetest and most nourishing things in the world, and “The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs” by Mark Sperring, “Time for a Hug” by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green, and “Good Night Hugs” by Ag Jatkowska are all celebrations of the special bond between little ones and their parents. Continue reading “How to Build a Hug”

Virtual Activity Bundle: Be Kind to Your Mind

Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 by Laura

Virtual Activity Bundle Kindness Counts2023 is officially underway, and the start of a new year is a great time to begin prioritizing mental health and self-care practices. Laying a strong foundation for a healthy emotional life starts in childhood. Babies begin to recognize facial expressions, toddlers learn to identify feelings and preschoolers and school-age kids can develop healthy habits like anger management and deep breathing techniques. Unfortunately, many of us didn’t gain these valuable skills growing up. But luckily, the conversation around mental health has exploded in recent years, and we’ve seen a huge uptick in books and other resources to help give kids the tools they need to process and express their emotions. In this virtual activity bundle, you’ll find a number of online resources to promote education, encouragement, comfort and calm. Get the conversation started and show your mind some kindness with a little help from this selection of eBooks, songs, videos and activities! Continue reading “Virtual Activity Bundle: Be Kind to Your Mind”

Brianna’s Books: January Favorites 2023

Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2023 by Brianna

Brianna's Books Banner

Let’s welcome in the new year with some new books! I’ve got some really fun ones for you. Don’t forget to check our catalog for digital versions if you’d prefer not to venture out in the cold!

Picture Books

Very Good Hats” written by Emma Straub and illustrated by Blanca Gómez 

Just about anything can be a hat! Bowls, pants, books — the possibilities are endless! And hats aren’t only defined as something that goes on your head. Acorns make great hats for fingers, and obviously, roofs are hats for houses. Some hats are temporary, like bubbles in the bath or leaves falling from trees. Some hats might surprise you, like a warm cat on your head in the winter. My toddler adores hats, so I’m looking forward to sharing this with him later. Sometimes when he brings me a shoe, I place it on my head and ask if it’s a hat. Giggles ensue as he snatches it off my head and places it on my foot. Yet after reading this book, the answer might just be, “Why not?”

This Little Kitty” written and illustrated by Karen Obuhanych

I love kitties, but I am sometimes glad that I only have a dog. Especially when I see all the mischief kitties get up to! There are five little kitties in this book, and their day is full of delightful destruction. Kitties claw up curtains, nap in hanging potted plants and spill kibble all over the floor. But obviously, they’re impossibly cute the entire time! We see the occasional hand or leg of their humans, who seem thankfully unconcerned by all the kitten antics. This is sure to please littles who love cats!

Chapter Books

Harmony and Heartbreak” by Claire Kann

I feel like I tend to highlight more serious chapter books, so this time I’ve got frothy escapism for you! Honestly, I’ve been really enjoying reading some lighter, feel-good books lately, and this one definitely fits the bill. Cousins Rose and Cora live in their family’s hotel in San Francisco, and are busy perfecting their magical skills to become Matchmakers. Each of them has magic that’s used to help compatible people make connections and fall in love. Now they’re being offered a chance to face the tests that will advance them to the next level of Matchmaking, but they have to do it alone. The tests are designed specifically for their weaknesses, and if they fail both tests, they could lose their magic. A bit of drama, a magic system I hadn’t seen before, and a belief in the power of love. There’s a lot to enjoy in this series starter!

Dragonboy” by Megan Reyes

In case you’re not in the mood for a rom-com, let’s finish out with an epic fantasy! Haven has been at war for generations, with each side taught to hate and fear the others. Wren’s people use magic and live alongside the dragons, while Shenli’s people abhor magic. Blue was transformed into a dragon after sacrificing for his loved ones, and River leaves a prestigious position as Lead Harvester to travel with him. These four preteens are brought together by Fate so they can end the war and heal their country. But they have thick layers of lies and misconceptions to work through so they can begin to work together and trust one another. Written from each of their perspectives, this debut book expertly balances fascinating worldbuilding, action and humor. Be warned, this is a series starter as well, and it will certainly leave you eager for the next book.