Upcycled Bird Feeder

Posted on Monday, November 27, 2023 by Robyn

One of my favorite things about late fall and winter is watching the birds outside my window. Last year, I got to know a cardinal couple who were regular diners at my feeder. It felt good to offer them and others food even though birds are highly resourceful creatures. When I gazed at them from my window, a feeling of warmth spread through me that eased the winter chill. Robert Lynd says, “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” Whether you interpret that as being quiet and still in your body or your mind, watching birds stirs our hearts and activates our imaginations — opening us up to mystery, wonder and hope. Plus, it’s just plain fun! My namesake is the robin, but I’m still learning the names of more than 400 birds that visit Missouri (150 of which regularly nest in our state). I love going old school with a printed field guide, but the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a free app for smartphone and tablet users called Merlin Bird ID that is quite magical and very kid-friendly (one feature I love is the sound identification that takes an audio sample you record and isolates each call or song of any and all birds in the near vicinity).

Below are the steps to make a fun and simple bird feeder. After you set your creation outside and give it some time, see if you can identify the top 20 birds that visit Missouri backyards in the colder months. The library also has a wonderful Virtual Activity Bundle to help keep young minds active while indoors (recommended for ages 3-6), and here is a staff-created book list with some favorite picture books about our feathered friends.


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Peppermint Milk Recipe

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2023 by Katie

I think there are two types of people in the world. Those that enjoy pumpkin spice, and those that wait for peppermint season. If you are like me, pumpkin spice is nice, especially when it is in pie form. Peppermint is the flavoring I seek out in the winter months. Cookies, cappuccinos, candies, chocolates and more. If you are a peppermint fan, or just a little tired of pumpkin spice, read on for a fun way to create your own peppermint-flavored milk. This recipe is low on the effort scale and would be easy for a little one to assist with.

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Busting Thanksgiving Myths!

Posted on Monday, November 13, 2023 by Laura

Did you know that Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until 1863? In fact, the so-called “first Thanksgiving” wasn’t even the first Thanksgiving feast; both the English and the native Wampanoag had celebrated similar harvest feasts for centuries. Furthermore, the first Thanksgiving table probably did not feature turkey, and they certainly didn’t serve pumpkin pie!

Amidst the handprint turkeys and paper Pilgrim hats, there’s a kernel of truth to be found. But it can be challenging to find historically accurate, well-researched resources on this beloved holiday. Children deserve to learn the real history of Thanksgiving, not just the feel-good myths we’ve long perpetuated.

Before we get down to the business of debunking, it’s important that we honor the original caretakers of the land we now stand on. According to MU libraries,  modern-day Missouri lies on the ancestral lands of the Chickasaw nation, the Otoe-Missouria tribe, the Illini tribe, the Osage nation, the Ioway tribe and the Quapaw tribe. Keeping in mind that the story of Thanksgiving can be a painful one for many Indigenous people, I’d like to point to this excellent article on centering Native voices during your Thanksgiving festivities by Alexis Bunten (Aleut/Yup’ik).

With all that being said, let’s explore some of the best Thanksgiving books in our children’s collection — and bust some myths while we’re at it!

MYTH: Everything we know about the first Thanksgiving comes to us from the original Pilgrims.

Home - Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story

We can’t forget the value of Native voices in this story! Despite the violence and disease that ravaged the Wampanoag nation after English settlers arrived on their shores, their stories have lived on. Oral storytelling is a vital part of Wampanoag culture, both past and present. Their folklore can give us a window into the lives and cultural values of those who came before, including the tribe’s account of the first Thanksgiving and the role of historical figures like Tisquantum (better known as “Squanto”).

Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story,” written by Indigenous writing trio Danielle Greendeer (Mashpee Wampanoag), Anthony Perry (Chickasaw) and Alexis Bunten (Aleut/Yup’ik). This lyrical, uniquely illustrated picture book recounts the Wampanoag version of the first Thanksgiving through the eyes of Weeâchumun, one of the “Three Sisters” that appear in Native folklore across North America. Continue reading “Busting Thanksgiving Myths!”

When a Loved One Has Cancer

Posted on Monday, November 6, 2023 by Laura W

…it’s hard on everyone. Cancer can be unnerving, unexpected and unwanted. In a way, it’s like a twisted magician. It takes a world and miraculously turns it upside down. It makes what-ifs appear as if out of thin air. As if through an enchantment, where there was more, there’s suddenly less. Less hair. Less certainty. Less time. It’s a show that no one wants to attend. Sadly, we don’t get to choose whether we receive a ticket to the exhibit or not. If we do, it can be beyond overwhelming, especially if there are young children in your care. How can you help them understand something that you may still be struggling with yourself? Luckily, you are not alone. Whether your child is struggling to understand what’s going on or trying to manage the myriad of emotions that they are surely having, we have something for you. Of course, you can always come to the library to ask us for help. The library is a safe place to ask whatever difficult questions you may have, and we will point you towards whatever resources we can. If you need time to process at your own pace, I’ve created an entire book list on this topic that you can access at any time. While I love all of the books on there, there are a few that truly have my heart. Here’s a rundown of my top 5:

Cancer Hates Kisses” by Jessica Reid Sliwerski

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👹 Marvelous Monsters 👹

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2023 by Grae

It’s that spooooooky time of year when you might encounter a monster on your morning commute or evening stroll, in a grocery store aisle or neighborhood yard decoration, amid your dreams and under — or next to you in! — your bed. While monsters have long served humans as metaphors for fear of what is different and/or unknown — the word “monster” comes to us in part from the Latin words for warning and demonstration — there’s been a necessary rehabilitation and welcome expansion of the concept of the monster in Children’s literature and media in particular. From Maurice Sendak’sWhere the Wild Things Are” to Sesame Street to “Monsters, Inc.,” monsters are not just lurking in the shadows to antagonize or gobble us up. In this more generous, compassionate light, monsters can also help us to empathize with other human and nonhuman creatures and consciousnesses, reflect on and shift our perspectives, challenge assumptions and biases and process and understand our tender and turbulent emotional lives. That’s why I like to think of monsters as ✨ marvelous ✨ — real/imaginary beings who are connected to wonder, surprise, astonishment and even smiles.

This spooky season, I invite you and your loved ones to consider how and where monsters show up in your lives and imaginations. To open the conversation up or keep it going, check out some of the titles on this ✨ Marvelous Monsters ✨ booklist. Below are a couple of my favorite titles that playfully and/or powerfully complicate how we might think of and experience monsters.

Cover for the children's book "Bartholomew and the Morning Monsters," featuring a child with tan skin and a tuft of black hair yawning in bed with his eyes closed while various colorful monsters are circled around and grinning mischievously in the background.

This story is for night owls everywhere. Ever had a morning where time seemed to unspool out of your grasp and every chore or part of your routine was disastrously disrupted? You might find some validation or consolation in Bartholomew’s mischievously monstrous morning.

read-alike: “Monster TroubleContinue reading “👹 Marvelous Monsters 👹”

Books that Taught Me Something

Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 by Grace

We’ve all got a lot to learn, whether about the world we live in, the people around us, or simply how to be a better human. In my short time at DBRL, I’ve found that the most accessible information on any topic will be in the children’s section, broken down into pictures and phrases that we can all understand. I’ve also noticed that, due to the simpler nature of picture book phrasing, they can communicate broad emotions, concepts and ideas in ways that are easily digestible yet still spark deep thought and conversation. 

I think that these books are incredibly helpful, not only for sharing serious or difficult concepts with children in an age-appropriate way, but also for educating them and allowing them to feel represented. Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop wrote in a 1990 essay that books ought to act as ‘mirrors, windows, and sliding-glass doors’ for children to see themselves in, see and understand others in, and step into another’s shoes through. Many of these books acted as windows and sliding glass doors for me, educating me about things I never even knew existed. I highly recommend every book on this list — for instance, even if your family is not Hindu, they will still enjoy the beautiful story and peppy illustrations in “Binny’s Diwali.” They will also be able to learn about another culture’s practices and holidays, which is a wonderful way to introduce children to people with different lifestyles.

While perusing this list, I recommend thinking of Bishop’s words — does your child need a mirror, a window, or a sliding glass door right now? All three? Do you need one or the others? Picture books are wonderful ways to learn about the world around us because of their simple, solid prose and their clear and colorful artwork, for children and parents alike. Happy reading and happier learning!

Just Help!” written by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

"Just Help!" by Sonia SotomayorThis book is so heartwarming! Personally, I find myself stressing about the ‘big bad’ problems of our world all too frequently. Racism, climate change, homo- and transphobia — all of these challenging parts of our world can be difficult to navigate, especially for kiddos on the way to inheriting it. Still, there is something we all can do every day — not for the great big world but for our small ones, where our community thrives. We can, as the book shows, be kind to our friends, family and community. This book helped to remind me that small changes are how big changes eventually come to be. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs that comfort. Continue reading “Books that Taught Me Something”

Brianna’s Books: October Favorites 2023

Posted on Monday, October 2, 2023 by Brianna

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It’s time to settle into the wonderful fall weather and get cozy with a good book! Whether you’re reading under a snuggly blanket or sitting outside in the crisp air and sunshine, these new books will be perfect companions. This will be my last blog for a little while, so enjoy and I’ll see you again next year with some winter releases!

Picture Books

Turbo's Special Delivery coverTurbo’s Special Delivery” written by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Eduardo Marticorena

I’m a little biased about this one because I have a toddler who loves trucks. Turbo is a delivery truck who loves to drive FAST! But today he has a very special delivery, and his supervisor tells him he needs to be extra careful with it. That means no zooming or zigging or zagging on the road. Turbo sets off at his usual speed before remembering to slow down. When he does, he’s bemused to see other cars actually passing him, but he’s delighted to notice the beautiful countryside and fresh air on his windshield. This is a reassuring example for little ones who want to go go go! Not only is it possible to rein yourself in, but there are definite benefits beyond just the approval of the grown-ups. Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: October Favorites 2023”

Paper Snails

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2023 by Katie

Here is a super cute craft you can do with kiddos of all ages. Who doesn’t love a sweet scrap paper snail? 

Two paper snails with googly eyes
Just a cute little walk of snails.

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Celebrate Welcoming Week

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2023 by Laura

Have you ever moved to a new place — a new neighborhood, a new school or even a new state? Now imagine what it might feel like to move to an entirely new country. Maybe you don’t speak the language. You can’t find your favorite food at the grocery store. Sometimes people point at you and whisper; you can’t understand what they’re saying, but it’s clear they’re talking about you. Then one day, someone offers you an understanding smile and a helping hand. It doesn’t make all your problems go away, but you begin to feel like you actually belong.

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

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Brianna’s Books: September Favorites 2023

Posted on Monday, September 4, 2023 by Brianna

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Whether you’re longing for the cooler days and cozy sweaters ahead of us, or clinging to our last days of summer, take some time out to enjoy these new books! As a bonus, while I was writing this, an accidental theme emerged. Other than the first book, it lines up purrfectly!

Picture Books

Don't Worry, Wuddles coverDon’t Worry, Wuddles” by Lita Judge

Wuddles is a delightfully fluffy sheep, with an overenthusiastic duckling for a friend. The duckling realizes that winter is coming and it may get cold, so their solution is to fashion a scarf from Wuddles’ wool. The duckling is so excited about the plan that it forgets to ask Wuddles for permission, and the pattern continues when the duckling spots a rooster that might get a cold head this winter. Same with the rabbit who needs earmuffs, and the goat who needs leg warmers. The duckling obliviously chatters on about its good thinking and generosity, all while poor Wuddles’ wool supply dwindles. This makes for a very fun read-aloud and would be a great opportunity to talk with little ones about being sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings, even when they don’t speak up. Continue reading “Brianna’s Books: September Favorites 2023”