About Lauren

Mama of two, librarian, geek. Lauren's favorite children's book is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. (Saturday is the best!)

Celebrate Everyday Heroes

Book cover for Heroes of the EnvironmentThis year’s Summer Reading program is all about heroes. There are plenty of books about caped crusaders and super strong crime-fighters, but we also want to highlight those everyday heroes in our lives. They may not wear masks or fly super jets, but they do important work keeping us safe, inspiring positive change in our communities or even saving the planet!

Hero Dad” by Melinda Hardin
A child demonstrates that while Dad differs from a traditional superhero, as an American soldier he is a superhero of a different kind.

Show Me Community Helpers” by Clint Edwards
This picture encyclopedia introduces the youngest readers to important people like fire fighters, police officers, doctors and teachers. Facts and photos teach kids about community helpers and the ways they help us every day. Continue reading

Seven Books for Your Summer Travel

Audiobook of Matilda by Roald DahlSchool kids (and – let’s be honest – their teachers) are counting down the days until summer begins. For some, summer means road trips to grandma’s house, camping trips or airplane rides to someplace with a beach or mountains. For others it means many deliciously unstructured days near home, in local parks or at the city pool. This time of year is made for reading, whether you have long stretches of time to spend in a car or aren’t traveling any farther than your backyard. Here are seven recommended books for summer.

Even though parents now have all sorts of high-tech options to keep the kiddos entertained – portable DVD players, license plate game apps for your smart phone – I still think books are one of the best ways to pass the time during a car trip or flight.

Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
White himself reads this audiobook version of the children’s classic, and the experience is nothing short of lovely. His New England accent and the character of his voice invoke the cozy feeling of being read to by a grandfather. Read my full review of this tale of Wilbur the pig, saved once by 8-year-old Fern and then again by a literate spider.

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children” narrated by Jim Dale
Jim Dale! What a talent. He narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks, creating a dizzying number of unique voices. This collection of gentle animals tales is perfect for the younger set and lasts about 90 minutes – the perfect length for that car trip to see family a couple of counties over.

Matilda” by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet Continue reading

Classics for Kids: The Phantom Tollbooth

Book cover for The Phantom TollboothIf you are a librarian and also a parent, you might dream about your kids growing up to be word-nerds, just like you. Thanks to the bedtime ritual of reading chapter books to my youngest daughter, I recently had the deep pleasure of revisiting a childhood favorite full of wordplay: “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. I’m glad to report that the book holds up to the years that have passed since it was first published in 1961.

Grade-schooler Milo, the story’s hero, is always bored and uninterested, unable to see the wonder of the everyday world around him. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his bedroom, he travels to the Lands Beyond filled with incredible characters, like Tock the watchdog (with an actual clock face in his body) and a spelling bee (a bee who talks and, of course, spells). Continue reading

Giving Thanks for the Little Things

Book cover for Ask my kiddos what their favorite holidays are, and they choose Halloween and Christmas, “because of the candy!” My favorite special day, however, is Thanksgiving, and not just because I am a related to a number of skilled pie-bakers. I enjoy dedicating a whole day to spending time with loved ones, sharing a meal with parents, cousins and close friends. I appreciate the way the day makes me pause and appreciate all I have to be thankful for – healthy children, meaningful work, a roof overhead. A book recently added to the library’s collection made me realize how easy it is to encourage gratitude on any day. Amy Schwartz’s “100 Things That Make Me Happy” uses cheerful rhymes to catalog simple pleasures – a great antidote to the feelings of dissatisfaction, greed and false need that all of the holiday shopping advertisements can generate this time of year.

“Mud puddles/soap bubbles,” “Grandma’s lap/gingersnap” and “polka dots/forget-me-nots” represent a small sample of the clever pairings in this book. A bonus is that if you have an emerging reader, the rhyming words and the colorful pictures provide context clues that make puzzling out the longer words much easier. Continue reading

Spring Into Art

Book cover for Art Lab for KidsYour library has a number of resources for encouraging aspiring artists and for supporting arts education. You can check out St. Louis Art Museum Kits, which contain replicas of art objects and artifacts that can be handled and looked at up close, as well as posters, books and either audio cassettes or videos. We also have plenty of art books for creative kids, as well as artwork on display in all of our libraries, from the mural of historic photographs at the Southern Boone County Public Library to pieces of the Columbia Art League’s permanent collection exhibited at the Columbia Public Library.

We are pleased to announce a new, locally created online resource available to explore and teach kids about art. The Museum of Art and Archaeology has created “A Portrait of the Museum in 30 Objects.” Each entry has a high quality image of a museum artwork – from ancient Roman objects to paintings and multi-media sculpture – available for Continue reading