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.

Cinnamon Roll Day!

Posted on Friday, October 4, 2019 by Rachel

Cinnamon Rolls on Plate

Now I don’t know the consensus, but I love cinnamon rolls. As fall rolls in and the weather gets cooler, I crave those delicious baked goods. Whether they’re flaky, cakey or just-bakey, I love them. But did you know they actually have their own holiday? It’s true!

Celebrated in Sweden and Finland as Kanelbullens dag, Cinnamon Roll Day celebrates the popular cinnamon roll on October 4. This tasty treat, frequently eaten there in the afternoon, is also known as cinnamon snail. Sweden in particular loves its cinnamon roll and has a rich baking tradition, especially in the colder months!

Cinnamon Roll and Cappuccino
Cinnamon rolls come in all sizes, but they’re especially nice when they match your large coffee.

If you’re looking for an oven-free (and stress free!) cinnamon roll option, look no further than this great recipe from allrecipes.com! This is a great recipe for kids to try. They can help roll out the bread using a rolling pin or even a clean can. They can measure or change ingredients to suit their tastes⁠—and there’s no oven involved.


  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed (big slices are best!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, less if desired (room temp)*
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar**
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon water, or as needed

Continue reading “Cinnamon Roll Day!”

Author Spotlight: Paula Fox

Posted on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 by Adam

Paula Fox is one of the few writers known and praised as much for her children’s books as for the novels and memoirs she wrote for adults. Among her many accolades was the Hans Christian Anderson Award for “lasting contribution to children’s literature,” given to her in 1978, the Newbery Medal for her novel, “The Slave Dancer,” and the National Book Award for Children’s Fiction. In her books for children, Fox explores topics like racism, homelessness, alcoholism, mental and physical disability and homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. These issues are all filtered through the lens of family and family dynamics, and Fox is never didactic or patronizing to her young readers. She believed that we do kids “a disservice by trying to sugarcoat dark truths.”

Fox’s own childhood, from the beginning, was full of dark truths and chaos—her parents abandoned her when she was just days old, and she spent most of her childhood moving between the houses of relatives, friends and strangers. Throughout all of this, though, she found solace in books. “Reading was everything to me,” she said. “Wherever I went…there was a library. Even though my schools changed, I’d always find a library.” She started writing stories in grade school, and after World War II she found work as a foreign correspondent for a British news organization, an experience chronicled in her memoir, “The Coldest Winter.” Much later, Fox became a teacher, both in private schools and centers for delinquent youth, and published her first novel at age 43.

Fox’s most well-known book for kids, “The Slave Dancer,” is a coming-of-age tale. Jessie, a thirteen-year-old boy who is kidnapped, taken aboard a ship involved in the slave trade, and forced to play his fife as the slaves are made to dance to keep their bodies healthy and profitable for the men who plan to sell them. Fox pulls few punches in her descriptions of the horror and brutality that Jessie witnesses, but she also leaves room for humanity to shine through as Jessie befriends an African boy on the ship, named Ras. A controversial Newbery winner in 1974, “The Slave Dancer” is a tough, necessary and beautifully written work of historical fiction for young readers.

Fox died in 2017, and her last book for children, “Traces,” concerns the traces that everyone and everything leaves behind. Each section begins with the line, “Something, someone was just here,” and the first thing we see are the “bubbles of water and air” left behind by a bullfrog as it travels from lily pad to lily pad. We also see the flash of a fox’s tail as it runs through the woods, the slimy trail of a snail on a windowsill, the fossilized footprint of a long-gone dinosaur, and finally the flying leaves and scraps of newspaper that are the only traces of the invisible wind. This is a quiet, meditative book that encourages children to notice sights and sounds that they might otherwise overlook in our perpetually distracted world.

Book Battle! (Part 2)

Posted on Monday, September 30, 2019 by Megan

Calling all kids in grades 4-8! Join us for an epic Book Battle! Each month this fall, librarians will pick three different titles, and we want you to pick the winner. Each month will be a different genre, and kids who attend all three sessions will have a chance to win a prize.

Your challenge is to pick one of the books below, and read it before our get-together on Wednesday, October 23 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Columbia Public Library. Each book will have a 10-15 minute discussion to help determine a winner.

October’s genre is historical fiction.

Betty Before X” was written by Ilyasah Shabazz, who is also the daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X. This book follows Betty from 1945-1948, as a young person trying to find her place in the world. Through her church community, she discovers her passion for activism amid the Jim Crow laws and other acts of injustice. Though Betty faces many struggles at home, she finds a true home in the people of her community. This novel is rooted in fact and will give readers insight into the life of Betty before she became a civil rights activist and Malcolm X’s wife.

Spy Runner” by Eugene Yelchin, is set in 1953 at the height of the Cold War. Twelve-year-old Jake and his mother take in boarders to make ends meet after Jake’s father was declared MIA in WWII. When their newest boarder, a Russian man named Shubin, starts behaving strangely, Jack is sure that he is a Communist spy. However, the tables are turned when people around town begin to suspect Jake and his mother. This novel is action packed from cover to cover and is a great juvenile noir.

Set in 1966, the novel “She Loves You: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” by Ann Hood, is about exactly what you think it’s about—The Beatles! Trudy starts a Beatles fan club at her elementary school that has a strong following in 1964. However, by middle school in 1966 there are only a handful of members. When Trudy finds out The Beatles will be performing in nearby Boston, she is bound and determined to see the Fab Four in the flesh. This is a fun coming of age story about friendships and fandoms set during the swinging ‘60s.

Pancake Art for Kids

Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2019 by Tess

The sun is rising, the kids are stirring, the syrup is on the table and the griddle is hot. It’s time to celebrate National Pancake Day (September 26)! Here at the library, we take our pancakes very seriously, and today we’re going to show you a fun way to make them appetizingly educational. 

Step 1: Mix your favorite pancake batter, and put half the batter in a condiment squeeze bottle. Put the squeeze bottle of batter in the fridge to thicken, and then make yourself some regular ol’ flap jacks. Learning is much more fun with a full belly (for big people and little people!) 

Step 2: Warm your pan to medium heat, and add a fresh coat of non-stick spray. The next steps can be done by the adult, or, if your child is old enough, they can make pancake art with very close supervision. Use your squeeze bottle to carefully make some basic shapes—circle, oval, square, heart, triangle. We recommend making the outline of the shape, and then squeezing in the center. Once bubbles begin to come to the surface, flip your shapes!

Step 3: Now that your little one is a shape chef, let them try their hand at letters. This takes a lot of fine motor control, and one must be gentle when flipping the letters, otherwise they can break. If your little one is too young to be near a hot pan, let them practice their letters on a plate while you make the hot stuff. You can spell your child’s name in pancakes or practice the words on next week’s spelling test! 

Pro tip: Technically, if you want all your letters to look the same, then you’ll want to spell your directional letters backwards (e.g. B, C, D, E).

DBRL Pancake

After a fantastic morning of hotcakes, whisk off to the library to pick up some of our favorite pancake stories

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”

Arrr! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Molly

Pirate books

Avast ye! All hands hoay you Landlubbers! Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! So, although you can’t climb aboard the Jolly Roger and brandish your cutlass as in days of old, at least you can sound like a pirate one day out of the year. Here’s a link to some pirate terms and phrases that will get you talking like an old seadog in no time!

Along with having their own special “language,” pirates also loved to sing. Working on sea-faring vessels was hard work, so they often sang songs, or “sea shanties” to pass the time and make the job go faster. Here’s a pirate song that you and your family can sing on International Talk Like a Pirate Day or any day of the year!

If You Want To Be A Pirate (To the tune of: “If You’re Happy And You Know It)

If you want to be a pirate,
Swab the deck. (swish, swish)
If you want to be a pirate,
Swab the deck. (swish, swish)
If you want to be a pirate,
REALLY want to be a pirate,
If you want to be a pirate,
Swab the deck. (swish, swish)

Additional verses include: “walk the plank” (stomp, stomp); “shout ahoy!” (Ahoy! Ahoy!).

End with this verse: If you want to be a pirate “do all three” (swish, stomp, Ahoy!).

(Credit MOJIM Lyrics)

If you would like to learn more about pirates, DBRL offers a wide assortment of pirate books for children of all ages. Here are just a few.