October Is for Apples!

Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2019 by Molly

AppleEvery October, a friend of mine sets aside one weekend to make apple butter. This event, which has been a part of her family for generations, draws relatives from across the nation. Processing bushels of apples into apple butter is hard work that requires many hands. But overall, everyone returns each year because apple butter weekend is a wonderful opportunity to create family memories.

This same sense of family ties, dedication and togetherness is beautifully depicted in the book “Applesauce Day” by Lisa J. Amstutz. From picking the apples from the trees to cooking them in the same pot used by their ancestors, Maria and her family share a special family tradition. And while the apples cook, family members reminisce about past applesauce days and look forward to future times together.

Celebrate October (and apples!) with your family! Here are just a few of the delicious titles we have on hand.

For some additional seasonal fun, select an apple themed DVD. Here are a few from our collection.

Books We Love: Little People, Big Dreams

Posted on Monday, October 14, 2019 by Amanda

Little People, Big Dreams booksBooks provide windows into the lives and worlds of others, so what better genre to provide that experience than memoirs and biographies? Finding accessible and approachable biographies for younger children can be a bit tricky, however. Tough topics, unfamiliar dates in history and text-heavy pages pose big barriers for young people to comprehend and learn. Thanks to Isabel Sanchez Vegara, author of the Little People, Big Dreams biography series, showcasing role models and world changers has never been easier!

Isabel began her quest to write this series in order to provide quality learning experiences for her nieces.

“I had discovered a ton of great children’s books for my oldest nephew Ernest; full of brave, enthusiastic boys ready to conquer the world. But these sorts of books didn’t seem to exist for little girls and so I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great to change that? I wanted to show Alba and Claudia some real female characters who had had the determination to believe in their dreams and make these dreams a reality.”

Check out more of the author interview here. Although the series was originally inspired to focus on female leaders and innovators, it has since spread its wings to include male movers and shakers.

So, what sets this children’s biography series apart from the rest?

The Illustrations

While Isabel carefully researches and crafts the written elements of the series, she also is mindful of the visual impact it will have in teaching and appealing to her young audience. Though the books possess a cohesive theme, individual illustrators are selected for each publication. Vegara claims, “These books would be nothing without the extraordinary talent of all the illustrators I work with. To me, finding the right illustrator—someone who brings each character to life—is a very important part of the process (and it’s lots of fun!)” Continue reading about Isabel’s creative process here.

Little People, Big Dreams books

The Length

Each book feels like a typical picture book and is written to work as a read aloud. Caregivers will enjoy sharing stories of their favorite heroes in a short time frame with their littles. “Bigger” littles will enjoy thumbing through the pages, carefully digesting the exquisite pictures and diving into a new, inspiring story. Little People, Big Dreams provides historical and cultural lessons without overwhelming young readers with length and breadth. Each story starts with the person of interest as a young person, making it even more approachable and interesting for little learners. This series has expanded to include some board books as well!

Additional Information

Little People, Big Dreams books

I was already sold on the series upon initially finding the book highlighting David Bowie—how awesome!  However, the additional information section at the back of each book takes what is already a great resource and perfects it. The last few pages of each book display a timeline highlighting the person of interest’s life and achievements, alongside a list of additional resources to check out. Adding these few pages allows for these books to appeal to older readers who are in the beginning stages of learning how to research and write informative essays.

Since debuting in 2014, Little People, Big Dreams has grown into an inclusive, broad, informative series that is a must for younger and older readers. I highly encourage checking out our catalog and placing some on hold for your little. Inspiring your kids to learn about their role models and encouraging their dreams has never been easier!

Everyday Diversity in Picture Books

Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2019 by Brianna

We had a request in our Early Childhood Educators Facebook group for books that have diverse characters without being about diversity specifically. One of the beautiful things about art and literature is that we can see ourselves reflected in the stories. Yet it can be discouraging for young readers if they never see someone who looks like them. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love books like “Suki’s Kimono,” but sometimes you just want a story that includes different cultures and ethnicities without singling them out. If you’re looking for picture books that feature diverse characters without being about the civil rights movement or Dia de los Muertos, look no further!

cover art of A Couch for Llama

A Couch for Llama” by Leah Gilbert

This exuberant book features a racially mixed family as well as a very silly llama. The Lago family buys a new couch, but as they’re driving it home the straps come undone and the couch sails off the car and into a llama’s field. The llama is confused at first, but quickly grows to love the couch—as readers will love this story.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan Higgins

cover art of we don't eat our classmates

Penelope is a T-Rex starting school in a classroom full of children…who are delicious. Children will identify with Penelope’s classmates of varying skin tones and religious headwear, but they might identify most with Penelope as she learns to control her impulses and make friends.

cover art of mary had a little glam

Mary Had a Little Glam“by Tammi Sauer

This book is absolutely fabulous. Despite starring an African-American girl as the main character, this story is NOT about her hair or civil rights. Instead, it’s about her passion for accessorizing and how she inspires her school to have a little more glam. Mother Goose Elementary School is filled with nursery rhyme characters, but the students and teachers are refreshingly diverse. A joyful read!

Ada Twist, Scientist” by Andrea Beatycover art for ada twist, scientist

Not only does this book feature an African American family, it also promotes girls in STEM fields! Like any good scientist, Ada is full of questions—and unafraid to make a mess. Her curious and methodical mind will delight readers and perhaps even inspire girls of color to pursue science.

For more picture books with diverse characters, check out this book list!

The Power of Pretend

Posted on Monday, October 7, 2019 by Jessica M

October is a month of imagination and pretending! 

Everyone I know does their best work in October. Crafts, costumes, sweets—all of it comes together for a wonderful month of Halloween-themed fun. They sew up beautiful princess costumes for fabulous tea parties, make spooky ghosts out of recycled things and redecorate their homes to be spooky and scary. 

Children’s imaginations are the greatest thing. Imagination develops skills like problem solving and design. The world’s future is built solely on what we believe we can achieve through our creative ability.

I witnessed a great example of imagination a few months ago. A boy was carrying a magnetic puzzle around the library like a puppy. The boy would cradle the puzzle, he would talk to it and he would use the little magnetic pen attached to it to drag it behind him like a dog. Puzzle Pupper was a great new friend one day and then back to being a puzzle the next. Anything can be an adventure if you make it one!

To celebrate the power of pretend, I figured I’d pull some fun books on imagination, world-building and creativity and make a list.

Enjoy, the Power of Pretend!

In My Room” by Jo Witek

A little girl is alone in her room with paper, crayons, chalk and her imagination. She takes herself on a variety of journeys of her own construction. She becomes an explorer, a princess, a veterinarian…a whole bunch of things are possible through her imagination!

Planet Kindergarten” by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

A young child compares the first day of Kindergarten to visiting space. One little comparison leads to a very imaginative first day of school.

Bedtime for Batman” by Michael Dahl

A young boy imagines his nighttime routine as the life of Batman. On one side is his life, the other is what he imagines.

What’s Next Door?” by Nicola O’Byrne

Carter the crocodile needs help getting home. The only way to do it is to use your imagination to get him closer and closer to home.

Ta-da!” by Kathy Ellen Davis

A girl and a boy are telling stories. The girl wants everything to have a happily ever after and uses her magic to create happy endings. The boy, however, wants drama and action before a resolution. It becomes a battle of happy endings and dramatic escapes until they can reconcile their stories.

Fly Blanky Fly!” by Anne Margaret Lewis

Sam loves to use his blanky to go on adventures. His blanket becomes all sorts of things, from a rocket ship to a kangaroo.

It’s Fall, Y’all: Fall Programs for Kids

Posted on Monday, September 23, 2019 by Amy

Today marks the first official day of fall! Hooray! Time for cozy sweaters, pumpkin patches, cute costumes and family fun. Below is a list of fun fall activities coming up at your local library.

Callaway County Public Library

Autumn Poetry Tea Time. Monday, October 7 › 3-4 p.m.

Enjoy tea, lemonade and cookies while you listen to poetry about the season. Bring a poem to share, find one in our books to read aloud or have staff read your selection. Ages 5 and older. Registration: Not required.

Spooky Circuits. Monday, October 21 › 4-5 p.m.

Learn about circuits while creating creepy light-up bookmarks! Ages 7 and older. Registration: Not required.

Little Ones Costume Party. Monday October 28 › 10-10:45 a.m. or 5:30-6:15 p.m.

Join us for a not-so-scary good time at the library. There will be dancing, games and crafts galore. Feel free to wear a costume, or you can create one here! Ages birth-5 with an adult. Registration: Not required.

Columbia Public Library

Falling for Crafts. Monday, September 30 › 10-11:30 a.m.

Celebrate the cooler weather by making paper decorations for fall. We’ll have patterns for garlands, baskets and decorative boxes.  Ages 5 and older, parents welcome. Call 573-817-7160 to register.

Little Ones Costume Party. Thursday, October 10 › 10-11 a.m. or 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Join us for a not-so-scary good time at the library. There will be dancing, games and crafts galore. Feel free to wear a costume, or you can create one here! Ages birth-5 with an adult. Registration: Not required. Continue reading “It’s Fall, Y’all: Fall Programs for Kids”

The “Be Yourself!” Book List

Posted on Monday, September 9, 2019 by Jessica M

What about a person forms their identity?


  • Age
  • Habits
  • Quirks
  • Families
  • Gender
  • Religious affiliation
  • Hobbies
  • Cultural background
  • You name it!

Everyone is different! Each one of these things listed above makes us who we are. There are people who have curly hair and people who have straight hair; people who are right-handed and people who are left-handed; people who like to sew; people who enjoy watching birds; people who love art and so on!

To celebrate people and their diverse identities, I have put together a very small list of books I like to use when I talk about being true to yourself and your cultural background. It’s called “Be Yourself!” This list is limited. (A hundred different books from a hundred different cultures would still not be enough books to showcase every different thing about everyone.) The important thing is to keep looking for those books and appreciating them for what they are, just like we do with people.

Here are some of my favorites.

Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr

This book uses colorful illustrations and examples to showcase that no matter who you are, what you do or what you look like, you should always be yourself.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon” by Patty Lovell

Molly Lou Melon’s grandmother teaches her that despite her imperfections, as long as she believes in herself and what she can do, other people will believe in her and her abilities as well.

Perfectly Norman” by Tom Percival

Norman grew up perfectly normal…until he grew wings. He doesn’t want to be different, so he tries to hide his wings. He becomes too hot and can’t play with others. He must decide to be himself or continue to suffer.

A Normal Pig” by K-Fai Steele

Pip the pig feels very normal about everything in her life until a new pig comes to town. The new pig makes fun of her food, her art and who she is. She’s upset until her mom takes her to the city and shows her how many differences there are between pigs: language, appearance, food cultures, etc.

The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson

This book focuses on differences between students. There is a moment where language is a barrier, different food types cause friction, and people question their own lives and experiences due to hearing stories from others. It’s a book about reflecting on life and understanding that all experiences are valid and different.

Flashlight Fun: Illuminating Crafts and Books

Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by Kristy

At one of our recent library programs, we made a paper flashlight craft that all of the kids and parents adored. It was so popular that I’ve written up some instructions so you can make this craft at home!

What you need:

  • Image or drawing you want to trace
  • Clear sheet of plastic
  • One sheet of black paper and one sheet of white paper
  • Black Ultra Fine Sharpie
  • Regular Sharpies in multiple colors
  • Tape
  • Flashlight template
  • Sheet of white cardstock
  • Scissors

What you do:

  • Draw your own picture or find a one that you want to trace.
  • Lay the clear plastic sheet over your picture, and trace the outlines with a black Ultra Fine Sharpie.
  • Remove the plastic sheet with your tracing, and lay it over a sheet of plain white paper.
  • Color your picture in with colored Sharpies, working left to right (if you are right-handed) so you don’t smudge your work.
  • Remove the plastic sheet from the white paper. Tape the plastic sheet to the black paper across the top to hold them together.
  • Print the flashlight template onto white cardstock.
  • Cut out the flashlight. You can color in the handle of the flashlight if desired, but leave the “light” at the top white.
  • All done! Place the flashlight between the plastic sheet and black paper, and see what happens!

Want to have even more flashlight fun? Then check out Emily Sollinger’s A Bedtime Shadow Book series! This series lets you shine a light into the images, and the images transfer onto the wall. How cool is that?

Moon Landing Fun!

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Brianna

Summer Reading is over, but that’s no reason to leave behind all the fun you can have with an outer space theme! Just last month was the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, so why not celebrate with these moon landing activities?

child holds up finished rocket art

Blast Off Collage

Try making this blast off collage with your little ones. You’ll need the following supplies:

  • Rocket on any color paper (You can use the template on page 4 of this file)
  • Black paper
  • Tissue paper (various night sky and fire colors)
  • Glue sticks
  • Star stickers (optional)
  • Markers or crayons

After coloring and cutting out the rocket from the template, set it aside and prepare your night sky background. Tear up bits of tissue paper (that’s the extra fun part!) and glue them on the black paper to give texture to the sky. Try using blues and purples for the sky, and save orange and red for the rocket. If you have star stickers, add them to the sky as well! Then glue the rocket onto the black paper, and add some flame colored tissue paper to the bottom of the rocket. We have liftoff!

Moon Sand

Now that you have a rocket, it’s time to create a moon surface to land on. Little astronauts will delight in playing with this extremely soft moon sand! You’ll need the following:

  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ cup baby oil
  • Large bowl
  • Spoon (optional)
  • Large bin or tray
  • Toy cars or people (optional)

Using your hands or a spoon, mix the flour and baby oil together in a bowl to make moon sand. Double the recipe if you want more sand to enjoy. Spread out the moon sand in a large bin, and invite the kids to play! (For easy cleanup, set up this activity on a tarp or old sheet.) Toss in some toy people or cars, and your little ones can reenact the moon landing or start the first lunar colonization attempt. Let them lead the play, and see where their imaginations take you!

Kids Books for Vacations (and Staycations!)

Posted on Thursday, August 1, 2019 by Lyndsey

This summer has flown by! How is it already August? But have no fear, there’s still some time before the kids head back to school. If you’re planning a family vacation or staycation to wrap up your summer, then check out these books to prepare your kids and build excitement for the upcoming adventure!

Hattie and HudsonChu's Day at the Beach Book Cover” by Chris Van Dusen

Hattie enjoys a day at the lake and makes an unexpected friend. Next time you’re at the lake, you might just wonder what magic lay beneath the surface. 

Chu’s Day at the Beach” by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex

Follow Chu and his family on their trip to the beach! All goes awry when Chu has a big sneeze and breaks the sea. Will he and the other beachgoers be able to fix it? 

Fergus Barnaby Book CoverFergus Barnaby Goes on VacationAmazing Staycation Book Cover” by David Barrow

Packing is my least favorite part of vacation. I always forget something. Fergus also has a hard time and must run around his apartment building gathering the items he needs for his trip. 

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation” by Ted Staunton

Arthur's Family Vacation Book CoverStaying home can sometimes take you the farthest distance. Harry and Clare use their imaginations to travel to Mars and fight pirates, all while navigating sibling dynamics. 

Arthur’s Family Vacation” by Marc Brown

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and that’s ok! See how Arthur learns to make the best of a bad situation. 

You can check out these and the following titles about vacation at your local DBRL branch:

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Painting Without Brushes

Posted on Thursday, July 25, 2019 by Tess

Child finger paintingWe all know the truth in the old adage, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” The great triumph isn’t in arriving at the park with your child; it is in smelling the flowers in the neighbor’s garden, seeing a bluebird’s nest and hearing the wind rustling in the trees. The same principle applies whenever we make art with children. This is called process art! The Museum of Contemporary Art says that “in process art, the means count for more than the ends.” Children learn more through play and experimentation than coloring inside the lines and making cookie-cutter crafts. Below are some fun ideas you can try at home to begin incorporating process art into your child’s play time!


Squeeze two paint colors inside of a ziplock bag, gently roll out the extra air, and seal it tight. Duct Tape the top, and then let your little one explore the bag. Your infant will enjoy watching the colors combine as they squish the bag with their hands and feet. (Realistically, they’ll also explore them with their little mouths, so keep a close eye on them!) 

Older Infants:

When your little one begins to cruise and walk, take the ziplock painting and tape it to a low window! They’ll use their legs and core to hold themselves up as they combine colors with the light pouring in behind the ziplock bag. 


There’s lots of nontoxic and washable paint on the market, but one of my favorite art activities with toddlers is yogurt painting! Lay out a tarp outside in the shade, put a variety of flavors in small cups, and let your little artists have fun! They’ll explore color, texture and scents. (And let’s be honest, they’ll take a taste too.)


Let your preschooler create with a tried and true classic—bathtub paint. They can spread it on their feet, hands, the bathtub, rubber ducky and the walls, and then scrub it all off at the end of bathtime. This is a great incentive to get reluctant bathers in the tub, and the cleanup is so easy! 

Want to extend the fun? Come join us at our upcoming program “Painting Without Brushes” at the Columbia Public Library where toddlers and preschoolers will be using an assortment of non-traditional mediums to create open ended art. To register, please call 573-817-7160.

Painting Without Brushes