Month: May 2020

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Digital Pursuits from Home

Digital Pursuits from Home

by Jared Richards, Technology Supervisor

From No-knead to SourdoughFor the last couple of months, I have been working from home. It took me a week or two to realize I would need to take a more active role in establishing a new work-life balance. In normal times, this balance can be difficult enough, but is largely determined just by the physical separation of your home and your workplace. When those two places merge, however, more of an effort is required to make the distinction between when you’re at work, and when you’re not.

One key for me, to make this distinction, was to make a schedule for when I would work each day, and stick to it. Mostly. When I wasn’t working, I would chase down all the random ideas and activities that I could partake in from the safety of my home. These adventures were largely aided by the library’s digital resources.

A seemingly big trend, throughout the global quarantine, has been making sourdough bread. I jumped on that bandwagon pretty quickly, because bread is amazing, and slowly building a sourdough starter over the course of a week gave me something to do. Not long after that, I was eating sourdough bread, pizza with sourdough crust, and sourdough pancakes. If you’ve never had the latter, they’re worth the time commitment.

I like to thoroughly research a topic before I dive in, and one book I found on Hoopla, “From No-knead to Sourdough” by Victoria Redhed Miller, was particularly useful. She takes the time to explain the various ingredients and the process, and then breaks down the types of breads that can be made into different comfort zones. She moves from simple no-knead breads up to low- and no-gluten breads. If you’re already a pro, you can go right to the recipe index at the back of the book and start wherever you want, maybe with lemon-currant scones or Montreal-style bagels.

While waiting for my starter to take off, I had some time on my hands. Throughout my life, I have dabbled in various computer programming languages, and recently I’ve become interested in Python. I’ve picked up a book here and there, but have never really taken the time to dig into them. Much like sourdough, however, I haven’t been able to throw a stick online without hitting a reference to Python, so I took it as a sign.

The Manhattan Public Library recently brought back and that resource has a wealth of Python and general programming courses, good for beginners on up to advanced users. I started with the course “Learning Python” with Joe Marini. It’s only two hours long but gives a good overview of what you can do with Python, without being overwhelming. It starts with how to install Python on your computer and goes through multiple examples of working with Python, like editing text files and automatically grabbing information from a website.

Near the end of my time working from home, I began to feel nostalgic for my more creative pursuits, most of which have been on hiatus, for one reason or another, for a while now. I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet – maybe take a class on Creativebug, one of our newest online resources. In the meantime, I read “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon through Sunflower eLibrary, for inspiration. It is a quick read, packed with valuable tidbits, both from the author and quoted from other creative people. You are encouraged not to wait for creativity to strike, but to jump in and start making stuff. Kleon also admits that nothing is original and everything is built on what came before it, noting, “The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.” After finishing this book, I’ve started collecting art with the elements I would like to try out, and the writing that has the voice I want to achieve.

Like many of our patrons, I’ve been thankful for the digital resources I have been able to access through the library while at home. I have been able to read and listen to books, take classes, watch movies, and read magazines, all without leaving the house. On the other hand, I’m very excited that we’re once again able to access physical materials. Patrons can now place up to five items on hold, and schedule a time to pick them up once they’re ready, through our carryout service.

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Mindfulness and Resilience Books for Children

Mindfulness and Resilience Books for Children

by Arielle Vaverka, Children’s Librarian The Dot (9780763619619): Peter H Reynolds: BooksThis summer will be very different for all of us, especially for our children. Unlike years past, we are not marking the end of a season with graduations, summer parties, and vacations. Our usual camps, clubs, and programs have been canceled. All of this uncertainty is leading many families, especially the kiddos, to feel unfamiliar stress and anxiety. Children manifest stress in ways that can look different than adults. Mood swings, bedwetting, thumb sucking, acting defiant, and bullying are all expressions of stress in children.

While we cannot change the current situation, we can empower children to manage their emotions and actions. You’ve likely heard about mindfulness and building up our resilience during these chaotic times. What’s great is that there are tools we can teach and encourage our children to practice to create a sense of calm and control.

Mindfulness is simply acknowledging the present and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness can be part of yoga, a guided meditation practice, or as simple as taking a few focused breaths. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from hardship. It involves checking in with your emotions and thoughts and choosing a positive reaction. This sounds easy but it is much harder in practice! Here are some great stories that bring these concepts to life for kids.

Children’s Books about Resilience 

Pete the Cat is a very groovy character who shows a lot of resilience in the storytime favorite, “Pete the Cat’s Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin and James Dean. Pete’s favorite shirt starts losing its buttons but Pete is not worried. The story is simple, colorful, and thoroughly enjoyable when sung out loud.

Beatrice Bottomwell is “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. Beatrice is proud of her reputation for always doing things the right way but sometimes her perfectionism keeps her from enjoying her friends, little brother, and daily routine. This book is a fun reminder for all of us not taking ourselves too seriously.

Peter H. Reynolds writes and illustrates wonderful stories about personal growth and perspective through art. His books “The Dot” and “Ish” are both great examples of resilience and growth.

Andrea Beaty is another fantastic children’s book writer with strong characters that model perseverance and growth. Beaty and illustrator David Roberts created a delightful story about a shy aspiring inventor, “Rosie Revere Engineer”. Rosie loves to create machines to solve problems but is scared to show her inventions to the world. In the story, Rosie discovers that mistakes are really victories when you learn from them. It’s hard to miss the references to the historical icon Rosie the Riveter and the can-do spirit she inspires.

Parent Resource:

To learn more about resilience practices, check out the short film, “Rest, Restore, and Recover your Resilience” created by the Great Course available on the Kanopy app.

Children’s Books about Mindfulness

I am Peace: A book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds is a wonderful introduction to mindfulness as it describes the process from stressed to calm in a colorful story format.

Breathe like a Bear” by Kira Willey illustrated by Anni Betts contains thirty different breathing exercises meant to be enjoyed at your own pace. The book is full of vivid drawings and the exercises are really engaging for children describing breathing with simple explanations and everyday objects. I believe this book can work as a resource that your child can refer back to again and again to practice their favorite breath.

Nature lovers and poetry admirers will really appreciate “Breathe and Be: A book of Mindfulness Poems” by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen. The poems are thoughtful and simple and the illustrations highlight the beauty of the natural world to remind kids to remain present and aware.

Parent Resource:

A great audiobook to start practicing mindfulness as a family is “Mindful Parent, Mindful Child: Simple Mindfulness Practices for Busy Parents” by Susan Greenland. Greenland lays a foundation of why mindfulness is important and provides simple examples to practice.

All of the books are available in a digital format through the Hoopla or Libby apps. If you are having trouble accessing your account information, need help navigating the digital resources, or if you have a reference question, please reach out to us at


Childhood Stress. Kids Health.February 2015 reviewed by Steve Dowshen

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Start Your Summer Reading with Fun Books

Start Your Summer Reading with Fun Books

by Laura Ransom, Children’s Programming Coordinator

Title details for Tomorrow I'll Be Kind by Jessica Hische - AvailableAlthough the joy of school letting out might not feel the same for kids this year, it is still an important accomplishment that leads into a time of letting loose a little bit. Kids will be ready for some fun reading time of whatever books they like the most. The library is still hosting the annual Summer Reading program, with online registration starting Monday to earn prizes by reading, and with some online programs for all ages starting in June.

There are a number of excellent books for children available from the library’s digital book platforms.  Here are some picture books that caught my eye to share with my own little one.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” I’ll let you in on a secret: even librarians do this! That’s what I did with Linda Elovitz Marshall’s “Have You Ever Zeen a Ziz?” A gigantic bird with a neck like a giraffe decorates this book’s cover. Inspired by Jewish folklore, this story plays with fun nonsense language that reminds me of Dr. Seuss. You can check out the “zinging ziz” book on Hoopla, one of our library’s digital book platforms.

Another book with an eye-catching cover is “Vamos! Let’s Go Eat” by Raúl the Third. Delicious Mexican food is ready to be discovered at a variety of food trucks, and the reader can spy little details included throughout the pages. Kids can learn simple Spanish phrases and look up unfamiliar words in the book’s glossary. This is also available on Hoopla.

Sometimes parents will request books that teach kids big concepts like kindness and gratitude. Thankfully, we have books like “Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind” by Jessica Hische to demonstrate what it means to put these virtues into practice every day. A little rabbit helps her friend who’s fallen down, and later she paints a picture for her family. The book beautifully displays this quote from its back cover, “The smallest spark of kindness shines through the darkest night.” Read this ebook on Sunflower E-Library.

This year’s summer reading theme is “Imagine Your Story” with ties to fantastical creatures and imaginary worlds where anything can happen. Grandparents seem to be magical in ways we can’t understand! The grandchildren in the story “Hey Grandude!” by Paul McCartney call their grandpa Grandude, and they are known as his Chillers. On a rainy day, he shows them his magic compass that whisks them away on exciting adventures, like swimming at the beach and horseback riding through the desert. I’m not surprised that Paul McCartney wrote such a creative and whimsical story, and I could imagine him singing the words to his own grandchildren. Find it on Sunflower E-Library.

On Monday, look for Summer Reading information at Babies through adults can participate. Just create a username and password to log in to our online Wandoo Reader program and track your reading time. This year, readers get to set their own reading goal for how many minutes they want to challenge themselves to read over the summer, from May 18-July 31.

We will have prizes, including free books, for readers when they reach halfway to their goal and when they complete their goal. The prizes will be available at a prize table at the library that will be in a separate entrance of the library, beginning in June. Online programs will include videos of MPL librarians presenting storytimes and clubs for PreK-6th grade, a few Teen Zone Online Zoom sessions, and some adult Book Chats on Zoom. We will be doing our best to keep imagination and wonder alive this summer.

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Books to Help Through a Tumultuous Time

Books to Help Through a Tumultuous Time

by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director

Title details for The Joy of Missing Out by Tonya Dalton - Wait listIt is a time of transition. We just found out about a week ago that the library could open again soon, giving managers the go-ahead to make schedules and refine our plans to restore services in a way that is as safe as possible for staff and patrons. While some in our community are planning for reopening, some are recovering from illness, others are looking for jobs, and all of us continue to adjust to the new normal of regularly wearing masks, attending Zoom gatherings, and increased hand-washing. No matter what changes we face in the next few months, we can all use a little help to navigate them.

We’ve all heard the common phrase “put on your own oxygen mask first.” Before we can navigate the challenges ahead, we have to take care of ourselves. ”The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking teaches us how to be more mindful of what we need to feel safe and comfortable. The Danes have been shown to be the happiest people in the world and Wiking proposes that it is due to the Danish concept of hygge. Hygge is about being mindful of the small treasures in life: a good bowl of soup, coffee with friends, or a candle burning in the midst of a family dinner. The long months of long nights in Denmark have forced the people to become experts on how to keep themselves content, a lesson particularly helpful to us now as we learn to work with limitations in our social environment.

This has been an especially stressful time for many parents, adjusting to working from home, while helping kids that are learning in an entirely new way. In “The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less,” Tonya Dalton helps parents to clarify priorities and identify what can be set aside. Named a “Top 10 Business Book of the Year” in 2019 by Fortune magazine, Dalton’s book has strategies and tools to help readers incorporate her ideas into their own lives.

One thing that has become abundantly clear during the shut-down is that working or learning at home requires a new level of self-motivation. In “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” James Clear gives simple, easy-to-follow advice to help us shift our habits in a more effective direction. He tells us that our failure to achieve success is often not because of lack of will, but instead due to an inadequate system. He shares steps to create systems and design an environment that leads to fulfilled goals.

The virus has affected different people in different ways, and there isn’t one right way to respond. We are all having to make it up as we go along. Kristen Neff helps to process some of the negative feelings we may be experiencing with her book “Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” By sharing experiences from her own life to illustrate Buddhist principals, Neff shows readers how being as kind to ourselves as we are to others can lead to a happier and more productive life.

The above titles are all available as digital titles from Manhattan Public Library, but hopefully, if all goes well, you’ll be able to get print books from us again in the coming weeks. If you would like to receive an email newsletter with the latest developments and more book recommendations, call us at 785-776-4741 or go to our website,
www. The newsletter link is located at the bottom of the page, along with other ways to connect with the library.

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Love in the time of Corona – Reconnecting with Comfort Reads

Love in the time of Corona – Reconnecting with Comfort Reads

By Jan Johnson, LIS Librarian

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®Reconnecting. When deciding what to write for this week’s column, I wanted to choose a topic that was light and easy; to write about what has been a comfort to me in an otherwise uncomfortable time. Many of us have had a hard time switching gears, slowing down and focusing on quieting our minds from the chaos going on all around us. Now more than ever, reading has been such a comfort and escape for many. I started sheltering at home by attempting to read a new book I found at the library.

I couldn’t focus. I kept getting lost. My mind drifted and I couldn’t follow the story. Next, I tried a “self-help” type book. Nope. I desperately wanted to get lost in a book; to find comfort and quiet in the pages of a beautifully written story. Like many of us, I wanted to reconnect to a feeling I had in the past of security, bliss, delight, and peace of mind. I decided to go back to an old favorite that I know I love, that I can get lost in, and will help transport me to the rolling meadows of the French countryside.

“Blackberry Wine” by Joanne Harris is the book I chose. It is the second food novel in her Chocolat series, and we are transported back to the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, where writer Jay Mackintosh is suffering from writer’s block. With the discovery of six long lost bottles of wine brewed by his childhood friend “Jackapple Joe,” memories from his youthful summers in a small Yorkshire village haunt and inspire him. Reconnecting his past with his present inability to find inspiration in his writing, Jay finds more of what he lost and how to get back to that sense of security and wonder.

Then I picked up a new title for me, but a story I knew from one of my favorite movies. “Brooklyn” by Colm Tóibín. Eilis Lacey leaves her small Irish village and her mother and sister for a new life in Brooklyn. Eilis struggles with leaving her family and adapting to life in America. When she meets Tony, an Italian American boy, her life changes and she begins to thrive in her new life. Eventually, a tragedy occurs in Ireland and forces her to make a decision about whether to stay in her new home or return to her old country. This is a beautifully written story that will invite you on a journey from mid-century Ireland to Brooklyn.

“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson was my next adventure in the time of corona. We may not be able to get on the Appalachian Trail right now, but we can vicariously travel there with the wit of this famous midwestern-born expat. Joining him on the trail is his gloriously out-of-shape buddy, Stephen Katz, and together they set out on the 2100 famous “AT.” History, natural wonders, and a few rather interesting characters they meet on the trail, will entertain you, give you laughs and connect you to the trail.

“Plainsong” by Kent Haruf invites us into the lives of several families in the high plains east of Denver, Colorado. From these separate stories of life in Holt, connections emerge of lives intertwined and beautifully wrapped around each other. Community and the land that cohears them together is the element that endures this story to our own relationships to our friends, our family, and to the land. This classic American novel will give you something to care about, believe in, and learn from.

For me, reconnecting to my idyllic childhood seems to be the ultimate comfort when things get a little chaotic. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis transports me back to a time when my biggest fantasy was finding a magic wardrobe of my own (why did we only have boring closets and not wardrobes?), where I could meet Mr. Tumnus coming around the bend with his packages. I was probably 10 or so when I first discovered Narnia and how amazing it was to get completely lost in another world. I can still see my 10-year-old version of Narnia, Mr. Tumnus, Aslan, and the Stone Table.

Reconnecting with a time in your life when things were more comfortable for you, more secure, and less uncertain, can bring comfort in an uncomfortable time. Many are rediscovering how important it is to reconnect with long lost friends, family, nature, whatever gives comfort. Whether or not you get lost in a new novel or one that you grab when you need to block out the distractions of the world, keep at it. If one story doesn’t take you on an adventure, move on. It’s better to have read and loved than never to have read at all!

Several of the titles mentioned and thousands more are available on Hoopla, Sunflower Library ebooks, and Libby. If you don’t yet have a library card, go to and access our selection of online resources.