Stressed out? Me too. These Ideas Might Help.

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2020 by Kristy

My cute baby posing so I can have a photo for this blog!

I woke up this morning feeling like a giant stress ball. My jaw was so clenched that I had to massage it back to life. And I know I’m not the only one—this is a tough time, for both kids and adults.

For times like these, when I wake up already overwhelmed, I keep a mental toolbox of things to help me chill out. I used a few of these tools today before my new coworkers (my husband and baby) woke up, and they helped me transform myself from a giant stress ball into a medium stress ball. I’ll take that as a win!

Below, I’ll share some tools that help me manage my overwhelm and anxiety. I’ll also share some great resources for kids too!


I have to admit, I used to loathe yoga. I’ve tried it off and on over the years because it is recommended by practically everyone, but I never really got into it. Then I tried the Down Dog app. Now I’m totally won over. I like it because you can be so specific—you can pick the exact amount of time you want to work out, the difficulty level, what you want to focus on (lower back stretches, core strength, hip stretches, etc.) and you can even pick the music and the narrator’s voice! You get a unique, personalized yoga practice every time. Because of the current pandemic, Down Dog is offering this app free to all customers until May 1. And they are offering it free to students and teachers until July 1. I totally recommend giving it a try.

The library also offers Hoopla, which has a variety of workout videos you can watch online for free, including yoga! Here’s some yoga videos just for kids.


A lot of us have found ourselves with some extra time on our hands. Why not set aside a few minutes for meditation? Since my baby demands nearly all of my time during her waking hours, I usually reserve meditation for early in the morning before she gets up. It always makes me feel more centered and ready to take on my day. Hoopla has lots of resources on meditation, from books to videos and music. Here’s some meditation resources just for kids.

If you prefer an app for guided meditation, Headspace is great. Unfortunately, after a free trial it is pretty pricey to use. However, if you are a U.S. healthcare professional, you can get free access to the Headspace app through December. Just fill out this questionnaire. If you are a K-12 teacher, school administrator or supporting staff, you can also get Headspace for free.


Sometimes you just need to hash things out with a mental health professional. Unfortunately, many offices are closed at this point in time. If you or your child would like support and help coping with the stress and anxiety related to the life and routine changes due to COVID-19, the MU Psychological Services Clinic is offering telehealth services via videoconference or telephone. Fill out this survey to get connected with a mental health professional.

The DBRL Adults blog wrote a similar article recently about other things you can do to protect your mental health. Check that out here.

What are other things you are doing to keep yourself and you kids calm during this time? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Make Math Fun With TumbleMath

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 by Kristy

TumbleMath logoOkay, I have to admit, I’ve never been one to enjoy math. However, I have always enjoyed books! If your kiddo is like me (Yay books, boo math!) and you want to stealthily sharpen up their math skills from your computer at home, try out TumbleMath!

TumbleMath has a collection of math picture books that are available online. The books are both animated and narrated, and they are accompanied by supplementary materials like lesson plans and quizzes if you want to take your learning even farther. To get the most out of your TumbleMath experience, read this nifty “How to Use TumbleMath at Home” document.

Want even more math picture books accessible online? Check out our collection on Hoopla! Or, if you like the concept of animated picture books but your brain just isn’t feeling like doing math, that’s cool too. Just head on over to TumbleBooks to watch and listen to some math-free titles. (You’ll just need your library card.)

Big thanks to Tumbleweed Press for allowing Missouri Libraries to provide access to TumbleMath for free until the end of August. They are also giving us access to:

  • TeenBookCloud: Offers a robust selection of graphic novels, enhanced novels, eBooks, classic literature, National Geographic videos, educator resources and audiobooks.
  • AudioBookCloud: Online audiobook library that has audiobooks for adults, teens and children. Includes audiobooks in Spanish!
  • RomanceBookCloud: Woo! Something just for us adults to pass the time. There’s a huge selection of romance eBooks that range from historical to time travel.

Story Time From Space!

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2020 by Amy

astronautWhile we’re really sad that we can’t host story times for you right now, we’re happy to announce that you can enjoy story time from outer space! Say what?! That’s right, you read correctly.

Thanks to this super cool website,, you can watch astronauts aboard the International Space Station read books for all to enjoy. There are currently 21 books to choose from. Some are even read in Arabic and Japanese!

Want to read along with the astronauts? Try the eBook “Ada Twist, Scientist” or “Rosie Revere, Engineer.”

Illustrators We Love: Vashti Harrison

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2020 by Megan

Hair Love book coverIf you’ve read our blog before, you know that we mostly focus on the authors of the books we love. However, today I’ve decided spotlight one of my favorite illustrators! (She’s actually a triple threat—illustrator, author and filmmaker.) So, without further ado, let me introduce Vashti Harrison!  Harrison is originally from Onley, Virginia, but her talents and dreams took her all the way to California, where she studied with the greats from Disney and Dreamworks.

Her children’s books vary from board books to chapter books, and she has collaborated on books with other authors as well as written her own. The book “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Harrison was recently turned into an Oscar, winning animated short. Personally, I love her illustrations for “Cece Loves Science” by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes. In this work, Cece is a girl with a lot of questions and a natural curiosity about the world around her.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History book coverI also adore her books about famous people. “Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History,” “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” (and the board book equivalent “Dream Big, Little One”) are all about prominent African Americans. “Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World” is a book of women creators from around the globe.

Each of these books pictures a lovely portrait of a renowned person and a brief bio of what made them great! All of the illustrations feature the famous person in the same pose—eyes cast down and just a hint of a grin. Harrison says that “a subtle smile is one of serenity.”

Harrison has been inspired by such classic children’s illustrators as Roger Hargreaves and Mary Blair, but her style is all her own. Harrison also portrays the people as children playing dress up so that kids can imagine themselves in the shoes of the person featured in the biography. You can even make your own little leader by downloading this coloring page.

Have fun reading ALL of Vashti Harrison’s books! You can find them at your favorite branch or on this list.

Brianna’s Books: March Favorites 2020

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2020 by Brianna

As I sit at my computer ordering books, I just get so excited about so many of them! There are too many to share, but I’m delighted to be able to tell you about some of them here. For all the rest, make sure you keep an eye on our new book shelves at your library.

Picture Books

Hike” written and illustrated by Pete Oswald

I love wordless picture books. Not only are they beautiful, but they encourage readers to develop their visual literacy and storytelling skills. This nearly wordless book looks like a great choice for that. “Hike” captures the quiet wonder of a hike through the mountains, and careful readers will spot the reason for their hike. As the weather warms up and spring approaches, this book could be a great way to get your children excited to explore outside.

Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story” written by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jonathan Voss

Anyone that has visited the Columbia Public Library has likely seen our owl by the Children’s Services desk. Did you know that she’s a Great Horned Owl? If your child has been on a school tour here, they could likely tell you all about it! When I saw this book that describes the life cycle of the Great Horned Owl through haiku, I knew we just had to have it. Sometimes nonfiction can be a little wordy for young readers, but the haiku format makes the information accessible enough for little ones to enjoy. Plus, haiku is a super fun form of poetry—and National Poetry Month is right around the corner!

My Singing Nana” written by Pat Mora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez

This book explores how to cope when a loved one has dementia. Billy’s Nana has started to forget things more and more, but she and Billy still love singing and baking together. The back pages in the book offer advice and conversation starters to discuss dementia and Alzheimer’s with children. This is the kind of book that everyone can enjoy, but it will be especially valuable for kiddos with dementia in their families.

Be You!” written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

You don’t have to read every book straight through; some books are enjoyed best by flipping to different pages when you need them. Reynolds’ latest picture book is filled with affirmations and beautiful illustrations that illuminate them. Reynolds exhorts his readers to be kind, curious and persistent and shows vibrant pictures of children doing just that. Keep this book nearby, and use it for teachable moments with your child.


Chapter Books

The Best of Iggy” written by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

Getting in trouble isn’t the goal, it’s just the side effect of really good ideas. Iggy may be a troublemaker, but he’s a good kid, and he doesn’t exactly regret any of his escapades—except for one. This slim chapter book will be hard to put down and will keep readers laughing the whole way through.

Show Me a Sign” written by Ann Clare LeZotte

Here’s a fascinating #ownvoices book. LeZotte is part of the deaf community and has written this historical fiction based on the deaf community in Martha’s Vineyard. This book takes place in the early 19th century, a time when Martha’s Vineyard had such a high deaf population that everyone on the island used sign language and didn’t consider deafness a disability. When an overeager scientist comes to study the inhabitants of the island, tensions rise and the protagonist must avoid becoming merely a “live specimen.”

From the Desk of Zoe Washington” written by Janae Marks

Zoe Washington is almost a seventh grader, living with her mom and stepfather and dreaming of entering Food Network’s kids baking challenge. On her 12th birthday, she receives a letter from her incarcerated father whom she’s never met. As they continue to correspond through letters and the occasional phone call, Zoe is convinced of her father’s innocence and becomes determined to prove it. This book explores systemic racism and the criminal justice system through the eyes of a relatable middle-schooler.

King and the Dragonflies” written by Kacen Callender

The acclaimed author of “Hurricane Child” is back with another powerful novel about love, loss and identity. When King’s older brother dies, King does his best to live up to his brother’s expectations while dealing with his grief—even when those expectations go against truths King is beginning to admit to himself. Set in the bayou of Louisiana, this book expertly navigates homophobia, grief and family.

Best Read-Alouds: 2020 Building Block Nominees

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2020 by Kristy

2020 Missouri Building Block Books

Want some excellent read-alouds to read to your kids or classroom? Then check out this year’s new roundup of Missouri Building Block nominees! These books have been picked and tested by librarians around Missouri, and they are sure to have your crew asking for more.

The 2020 Building Block Nominees are:

Family-Friendly Documentaries

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2020 by Adam

True/False is here again! For the 17th year in a row, Columbia’s premier nonfiction film festival will bring in thousands of people for a long weekend of film premieres, concerts, parties and a parade that marches down 9th Street. Whether you’ve got little ones and can’t make it out to all the great films this year or you just want to supplement the festivities with your own little documentary fest at home, the library has a plethora of family-friendly nonfiction films, many of which have screened at True/False and/or at Ragtag Cinema downtown. Here’s a short list of some of the most notable and popular ones:

Spellbound,” from 2002, follows eight kids competing in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. We watch the contestants, all from very different backgrounds, prepare and move from their local bees to the national finals. And then the tension mounts as they all try to hang in until the final round. “Spellbound” was one of the first documentaries to become a genuine box office success, which helped usher in a wave of popularity for nonfiction films.

Co-produced by the National Geographic Society, “March of the Penguins” vividly depicts the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica from the ocean to their ancestral breeding grounds. If penguin parents successfully hatch a chick, they must make multiple trips between the ocean and the breeding grounds over the ensuing months to ensure the chick’s survival. “March of the Penguins” is the second-highest grossing documentary film of all time, and won the 2006 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Like “Spellbound,” “First Position” tracks the lives of a diverse group of young people preparing for a competition, but this time it’s ballet instead of spelling. Six dancers compete in the Youth America Grand Prix to earn spots and scholarships in some of the best ballet schools and companies in the world, and we see the lengths that these young people will go to in the service of their art.

France’s Chauvet Cave contains the world’s oldest surviving paintings, some of them around 32,000 years old, and legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog takes you inside to see them up close in “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” from 2011. Herzog and his crew used 3D cameras to capture the bulges and contours of the cave walls, which are incorporated into the paintings.

Documentary filmmaker John Chester and his partner, Molly, move out of their small Los Angeles apartment and onto a 200 acre farm in Chester’s film, “Biggest Little Farm.” John and Molly want to build a bio-diverse and sustainable farm, but the land they’ve bought is drought-ridden and depleted of nutrients. The film, which documents their eight years of hard work, planting thousands of new trees and hundreds of different crops to try and realize their dream, shows the beauty, power and unpredictability of nature.

Maiden” is the story of the first-ever all-female crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World yacht race in 1989. Led by 26-year-old skipper, Tracy Edwards, the crew of the Maiden defied the odds and, with an old boat and without the massive financial support of other teams, finished the grueling 32,000 mile race and made history. This rousing doc uses original footage from the ship’s videographer to help tell the thrilling story of how Edwards’ risky gamble on her unseasoned crew paid off.

Resources We Love: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2020 by Jessica M

Love STEAM crafts?

Incredible LEGO® Creations from Space with Bricks You Already Have - Dees, SarahWhen I need craft and STEAM ideas, I usually look through my trusted social media sources for new ideas. Pinterest is great, YouTube is good if I need to watch a how-to and often I’ll go through DBRL’s free online resource Creativebug for guidance and ideas.

However, earlier this year, I came across this magnificent Baby Yoda LEGO® project. That Baby Yoda is just the cutest, right?!

This adorable construction was found on a website called Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls, created by Darah Dees, a homeschooling mom who dedicates her blog to super-fun projects and activities. These are the categories that she has sorted her blogs into:

Want more LEGO® resources?

Feel free to grab Sarah’s books from our collection or place a hold on them! So far, she has four different LEGO® books filled with fun creations.

Incredible LEGO® Creations from Space With Bricks You Already Have

This spaced-themed book focuses first on the types of bricks. To make sure that the directions are clear, Dees introduces the names of the bricks and where to find the serial numbers (in case there is a need to purchase additional bricks or replacements.) Build space ships, rovers and more! Continue reading “Resources We Love: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls”

The Kleenex Awards

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2020 by Tess

Do you ever just need a good cry?

You watch the ASPCA commercial (curse you Sarah McLachlan). You click on the video of the soldier returning home to surprise their family. You listen to the band play as the Titanic sinks. You binge-watch Hallmark movies all winter long.

You know my favorite way to get out a good cry? Picture books! The author and illustrator only have about 30 pages to draw you in and then break your heart. No visual effects, animations or sad music. The books need a universal theme that kids can understand and also an extra layer that is deep enough to destroy us adults. 

The youth services staff here at the library have spent the past month sharing picture books to make us cry, and we’ve voted on our favorites. Here, for your boo-hooing pleasure, we present: 

The Kleenex Awards!


#1, with a rating of 7 tissues is…

Ida, Always” by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso

Image result for ida, always"

Based on a true story, two polar bears, Ida and Gus, spend their lives together at the New York Zoo. They eat, sleep, play and cuddle together for many years. One day, Ida gets sick and doesn’t get better. Told from the perspective of Gus, “Ida, Always” is about learning to love people to the end and beyond. 


#2, with a rating of 6 tissues is…

Stormy” by Guojing

Image result for stormy book"

“Stormy,” a wordless picture book about a stray dog finding a forever home, is the original inspiration for this post. The use of light and color in this story says more than words ever could, and I promise, your tears will be happy tears.

Continue reading “The Kleenex Awards”

Design a Bookmark Contest 2020 (Extended Deadline!)

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2020 by DBRL Kids

Extended entry deadline is Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

winning bookmarks from 2019 by Averi Gilpin and Chloe Bowers
2019 bookmarks by Averi Gilpin and Chloe Bowers

This year Summer Reading is all about the expanse of our imaginations and the fantastic stories they create. Help us encourage other kids to dream, create, have fun and read this summer! Kids and teens are invited to design a bookmark based on the theme “Imagine Your Story.” We’ll print the winning bookmarks and share them at the libraries this summer.

Download the entry form here!

The artwork must be original and two-dimensional, but youth can use any medium they want, from crayons and markers to a computer. Photography is also acceptable, as long as it is your own. Only one entry per person. Ages 18 and under.

Submit the form with your design to the Callaway County, Columbia, Holts Summit or Southern Boone County Public Libraries or a bookmobile.

While our facilities are temporarily closed, you can scan your entry forms to or you can mail them to:

Megan Durham
100 West Broadway

P.O. Box 1267
Columbia, MO 65205-1267

See last year’s winning bookmarks!