Middle Grade Fiction Featuring Mental Health

Posted on Thursday, May 7, 2020 by Kristy

Did you know that 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness during their lifetime? And everyone, kids included, faces challenges that can impact their mental health. May is Mental Health Month, and this is an important topic for kids to learn about and discuss. Maybe your child is dealing with mental health issues of their own or perhaps they know someone who struggles with mental illness. As with all important topics, books can do a great job of exploring these ideas in a way that is both compelling and helpful.

Below are some powerful middle grade books concerning mental health. All of these books are accessible in electronic format through OverDrive using your library card. I recommend these titles for kids in the 8-12 age range. (These books do cover complex and sometimes dark topics, so you may want to read them first or be on standby if your child has questions.)

After Zero book coverAfter Zero” by Christina Collins

Elise carries a notebook full of tallies, each page marking a day spent at her new public school, each stroke of her pencil marking a word spoken. A word that can’t be taken back. Five tally marks isn’t so bad. Two is pretty good. But zero? Zero is perfect. Zero means no wrong answers called out in class, no secrets accidentally spilled, no conversations to agonize over at night when sleep is far away.

Elise isn’t sure she could speak even if she wanted to—not to keep her only friend, Mel, from drifting further away or to ask if anyone else has seen her English teacher’s stuffed raven come to life. Suddenly, the discovery of a shocking family secret helps Elise realize that her silence might just be the key to unlocking everything she’s ever hoped for. This book takes you along Elise’s journey, covering subjects such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Continue reading “Middle Grade Fiction Featuring Mental Health”

Virtual Activity Bundle: Birds

Posted on Monday, May 4, 2020 by Kristy

Welcome to our very first virtual activity bundle! For many years, we’ve been creating book bundles for our patrons. Books bundles are a stack of our favorite books on different subjects, all lovingly bundled together and ready for you to grab and go. They’re a great way for parents and caregivers to quickly pick up quality books without looking through our huge collection of picture books.

While we still plan on making (and possibly even expanding) book bundles, the youth services team is extending this idea so that you have access to great materials from the comfort of your home. That’s where virtual activity bundles come in! In these bundles, we will compile a list of books, songs, videos, at-home activities and other resources that you can use to explore different subjects with your child. Each virtual activity bundle will be based around a theme and will be geared towards a certain age group.

Without further ado, let’s get started with our first virtual activity bundle!

Virtual Activity Bundle: Birds

Chirp! Cheep! Caw! These are some of the happy sounds you might hear outside your window from our favorite feathered friends—birds! Birds are such beautiful and interesting creatures; my little one can watch the birds eating from our bird feeder all day long. If you and your child want to explore the fascinating subject of birds, check out the resources and activity below. Continue reading “Virtual Activity Bundle: Birds”

Coronavirus Explained: eBooks for Kids

Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2020 by Kristy

Having trouble explaining to your kids just what exactly is going on these days? The current pandemic can be confusing and emotional for us adults, which makes discussing it with kids challenging at best. There’s a fine balance between telling children the facts and over-explaining the pandemic to the point of panic or confusion. To help parents out, there have been several picture books quickly created to discuss COVID-19 in a realistic way that is also hopeful and kid-friendly.

Here are two eBooks that I have found helpful when explaining COVID-19 to kids. (You’ll want to read these with your child to explain concepts and field questions.)

Coronavirus: A Book for Children” written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts; illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This informative and accessible guide for young readers defines the coronavirus, explains why everyday routines have been disrupted and lays out how everyone can do their part to help. With child-appropriate answers and explanations, the book addresses key questions such as:

  • How do you catch the coronavirus, and what happens if you have it?
  • Why are people so worried about it?
  • Is there a cure?
  • Why do we have to stay home?
  • What can I do to help?
  • And what happens next?

Continue reading “Coronavirus Explained: eBooks for Kids”

2020 Missouri Book Champions!

Posted on Friday, April 24, 2020 by Kristy

Award collageThe librarians of Missouri believe that exposing students to quality literature impacts their future reading habits. The MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians) Readers Awards encourage students in grades one through twelve to explore new literary genres, to recognize excellence in writing and illustrating and to experience the joy of literature.

DBRL has purchased digital versions of the MASL award winners so you can check out and read them from the comfort of your home. Enjoy!

And the 2020 award winners are…

Show Me Readers Award Winner


The Legend of Rock Paper ScissorsLegend of Rock Paper Scissors

If you could fit a big budget Hollywood action movie into a tiny and ridiculous picture book for children, this would be it. Rock feels no joy in squashing Apricot. Paper outwits Computer Printer with ease. Not even Dinosaur-shaped Chicken Nuggets can defeat Scissors! Will they ever find worthy adversaries? This is the origin story of the legendary game played across the world.

Mark Twain Award Winner


One for SorrowOne For Sorrow

Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost. Continue reading “2020 Missouri Book Champions!”

Brianna’s Books: Excellent eBooks (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 by Brianna

Here’s round 2 of some excellent eBooks (and audiobooks) I’ve been purchasing for you!

First of all, I wanted to make sure you can still access all your favorite series. We now have all ten of The Bad Guys books in eBook format, as well as all of the Baby-sitter’s Club graphic novels, including the newest Little Sisters book. I also picked up all of the Wings of Fire downloadable audiobooks. If you’re wanting something a bit more haunting, try Mary Downing Hahn’s eBooks and audiobooks.

New Chapter Books Online

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of DoomWayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom” written by Louis Sachar, illustrated by Tim Heitz

Guess when the last Wayside School book came out? 1995! 25 years later and we have the next book in this delightful series. While I haven’t read this newest one yet, what I loved about the first books is the perfect combination of comedy and kindness in each chapter. Definitely check out this new book, but if you want to go back and read the others first, we have all of those in eBook format as well.


Narwhal on a Sunny NightNarwhal On a Sunny Night” written by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by AG Ford

Here’s another new book to try! This is the latest in the Magic Tree House series, in which Jack and Annie get to meet Lief Erikson—and narwhals of course. We have this one in eBook and downloadable audiobook. Once you’ve finished it, bring in a little nonfiction fun with the companion book “Narwhals and Other Whales.”



Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the SkyTristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky” written by Kwame Mbalia

Fans of Percy Jackson should definitely check out this Rick Riordan Presents book. Mbalia crafts an adventure with African-American folklore, West African mythology, and a relatably imperfect hero. When Tristan accidentally punches a hole into another world, he must team up with John Henry and other heroes to save that world.


Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: Excellent eBooks (Part 2)”

Brianna’s Books: Excellent eBooks (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, April 6, 2020 by Brianna

My own personal pile of library books is starting to dwindle at this point. If your family is in the same boat, why not check out some of our materials on OverDrive/Libby? The great thing about these eBooks and audiobooks is that I can purchase them and they show up in our catalog later that same day. With no shipping times, it makes it easy for me to keep up with your holds, so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long for anything!

Below are some electronic picture books that I’ve recently purchased for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Dragons Love TacosDragons Love Tacos” written by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Dragons and tacos. Enough said. If you haven’t read this delightful picture book yet, definitely check out this eBook. This particular one is actually an audiobook as well, so if your kiddo loves this story as much as I expect, they can just keep listening on repeat. Of course we have the sequel too!



Grumpy Monkey” written by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang

Grumpy days are inevitable, especially with all the changes little ones are experiencing recently. Not only is this a fun read-aloud, it also teaches an important lesson about giving others space to work through their feelings.



Sulwe” written by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Actress Lupita Nyong’o has written this beautiful story about colorism and self-love. Sulwe is the darkest person in her family and struggles to come to terms with that. She tries various ways to lighten her skin, to no avail. When a shooting star comes through her window and relates a fable of the two sisters Night and Day, Sulwe realizes that dark is beautiful.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog coming on Wednesday, April 8, where I’ll write about some awesome eBooks for older kids that I’ve purchased. See you then!

#HarryPotterAtHome: No Wait for the First Harry Potter Book!

Posted on Friday, April 3, 2020 by Kristy

Harry Potter At Home

Calling all Ravenclaws, Slytherins, Gryffindors and (my personal favorite) Hufflepuffs! This is not a drill!

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling is now accessible online in eBook and audiobook formats with no wait lists or holds through OverDrive. The eBooks and audiobooks are in over 10 different languages and will be available through May 31.

Never used OverDrive before? Here’s some information to get you started.

After reading some Harry Potter, visit harrypotterathome.com for activities like:

Have fun! And always remember:

Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.” ~Albus Dumbledore

Scholastic Learn at Home: Keep Kids Reading, Thinking and Growing

Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 by Kristy

Are you teaching your child from home? If so, I know there’s an abundance of resources out there for you to use! One of my favorites that I recently learned about is Scholastic Learn at Home.

This online resource gives parents and caregivers 20 days’ worth of topics (or, as Scholastic calls them, “learning journeys”) created to reinforce and sustain learning for students who are unable to attend school at this time.

These learning journeys, designed for preschool all they way up to grade 9, are really fun! The content for the preschoolers through grade 2 includes eBooks that you can read or watch online, videos and drawing and writing activities. The older kid learning journeys include cool articles like, “Burger bugs? Why some experts think more people should eat insects.” Not only is this title a fun draw, it explains about how 2 billion people in the world eat insects, the nutritional benefits of eating bugs and how eating bugs can actually help the planet!

Scholastic Learn at Home
Here’s an example of what a day’s learning journey could look like. Fun!

The articles for older kids include photos, videos and are a fun, bite-sized way to learn. They also have the option of speech-to-text, if you want to listen as you read. You can select a Lexile level, and the articles will adjust, getting easier or more difficult with your pick.

Here are some additional resources for families to go along with Scholastic Learn at Home. They’ll be adding more every day!

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.