Month: November 2023

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Navigating Grief and Loss with Children’s Picture Books

Navigating Grief and Loss with Children’s Picture Books
By Hannah Atchison, children’s librarian, Manhattan Public Library

Death Is Stupid (Ordinary Terrible Things): Higginbotham, Anastasia:  9781558619258: BooksAll of us experience grief. We grieve people we have lost to time, unkind words and death. We grieve experiences and opportunities. This deep feeling is hard to navigate for each of us. It can be especially hard for children. Children need ways to process and understand what is going on in their bodies and those around them while grieving. Grown-ups often need tools to help their children navigate grief. Manhattan Public Library has a selection of picture books that are excellent grief resources for children and grown-ups. Here are a few of the titles I recently found.

Sarah Howden’s “The Tunnel” is about the metaphorical tunnel you pass through during the emotional process of grief and the struggle to reconnect with those you love.

There Was a Hole” by Adam Lehrhaupt explains how grief sometimes feels like a hole inside us. You may not be able to make the hollow go away forever, but there are things you can do to help patch it.

Balloons for Papa” by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia introduces Arthur and his papa who visit his mother in the hospital daily. They pass by the balloons in the park every time they visit. Arthur and the balloons help bring a little bit of color to the gray world he and his father pass through.

In “Sitting Shiva” by Erin Silver, a young girl experiences this Jewish tradition of mourning and learns about the importance of community during the grieving process.

Calling the Wind: A Story of Healing and Hope” by Trudy Ludwig is about a Japanese family who channel their grief by making paper cranes together.

Jillian Roberts has written several books about teaching difficult topics to children. “On the News: Our First Talk about Tragedy” defines tragedy and talks about a few difficult things children might see on television.

When the Wind Came” by Jan Andrews is about the struggle of pushing through a metaphorical wind and how to find joy and hope despite the damage the wind causes.

Death is Stupid” by Anastasia Higgenbotham validates negative feelings that come with death, and the unique opportunities death affords for celebration and connection. Higgenbotham has authored other teaching books for kids- all written with the same honest approach and intent.

In “The Grief Rock: A Book to Understand Grief and Love” by Natasha Daniels, grief is a rock that is heavy and doesn’t make sense. The reader learns that the rock is just filled with leftover love.

The superhero “Cape” by Kevin Johnson enters as a child’s shield of avoidance. The cape becomes a connection and comfort after the child stops ignoring their pain.

Oliver Jeffers’ “The Heart and the Bottle” introduces a girl who finds something that makes her heart sad. She protects her heart by putting it in a bottle she carries, but it grows heavier over time. The girl becomes less excited and connected to the world around her. Luckily, she meets someone full of the joy she once had who can help her take her heart back out of the bottle.

The darker months are approaching. This is a time when sometimes the light doesn’t quite reach us and we are reminded of those we said goodbye to. Remember to look for comfort wherever you can. One of my favorite places is in a good book. For more books like these or other books to bring you comfort, don’t forget to check your public library. We are here to help you find what you need.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space. Learn more at


By Hannah Atchison, children’s librarian, Manhattan Public Library

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

So you’re turning 40

So you’re turning 40

By Audrey Swartz, Adult Services & Readers’ Advisory Librarian

The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism

As Kansas welcome fall, I am rapidly approaching a milestone birthday. I’ve been contemplating where I am in my life, as many of us do as we reach midlife. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “midlife crisis” as “a period of emotional turmoil in middle age caused by the realization that one is no longer young and characterized especially by a strong desire for change.”


When I think about midlife change, I think about the stereotypical purchase of a red convertible, the divorce to match with a younger more attractive partner and a drastic career shift. While I researched midlife, I discovered that the red convertibles, divorces and job changes are ways men more commonly react. This begs the questions, “How do women typically react?” and “What will my experience be like?”


Women’s midlife crises look more like sleep problems, increased depression and anxiety, and physical changes related to menopause. “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis” by Ada Calhoun was an eye-opening read for me. Calhoun spoke to women across the country and listened to their stories. Women reported similar midlife challenges that can be summarized as, “We are overwhelmed, underpaid and exhausted.”


Despite being exhausted, we just can’t sleep. We can’t turn off our brains. Calhoun’s solutions echo those we hear on a regular basis: take care of your health, take time for yourself and relax–REALLY RELAX. While this advice isn’t new or revolutionary, reading the stories of hundreds of women who are feeling the same way I am, gave me a sense of community and an understanding that I am not in this on my own.


Claire Dederer’s memoir, “Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning,” tells the story of a woman who feels emotions again in midlife at an almost reckless teenage level. She, like many of us, struggles with the experience at these intense emotions. Dederer bounces between retelling the stories of her youth and her reawakening at mid-life.


She reads the diaries of her youth and carefully examines the girl ensconced in those pages as she explores her “new” powerful feelings at middle age. In figuring out her teenage self, she manages to decode her 44-year-old self. Dederer’s book is delightfully sarcastic and left me laughing. I highly recommend this read if you are looking for something different in your “Oh my goodness I’m turning 40” panic.


Menopause Confidential: A Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Thriving Through Midlife” by Dr. Tara Allmen has declared itself “not your mother’s menopause book.” While Calhoun and Dederer gift us with stories, Allmen’s book is full of credible science and practical medical advice. It covers everything from hot flashes to skin care and early signs of Alzheimers. “Menopause Confidential” manages to give us medical answers and advice with humor, sarcasm and without the anxiety of the doctor’s office. This is a great read and I’ve already started using some of her skin care advice.


In the same vein, we have “The Menopause Manifesto: Your Own Health with Facts and Feminism” by Dr. Jen Gunter. Gunter approaches menopause education as we have long approached the education around puberty. She argues that because menopause is an expected change, we should educate and prepare ourselves in similar ways we prepare in adolescence. Her work is more recent then Allmen’s, but mirrors it closely. Gunter provides up-to-date information and statistics about women’s midlife while debunking myths and being hilarious.


All of these books provide thought-provoking, funny and accurate details and stories of reaching midlife and the changes that come along for the ride. While menopause is often seen as mysterious, these books—and many more you’ll find at Manhattan Public Library—give us practical and relatable advice. Visit in person at 629 Poyntz Avenue and online at to learn more about making your way through midlife and menopause.

Manhattan Public Library is a cornerstone of free and equal access to a world of ideas and information for the Manhattan, Kansas, community. Manhattan Public Library serves more than 75,000 people in the Riley County area through curated book and other media collections, knowledgeable staff, relevant programming for all ages, and meeting space.

By Audrey Swartz