Month: November 2019

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Kansas Reads to Preschoolers “I Like Myself”

Kansas Reads to Preschoolers “I Like Myself”

by Jan Johnson, Children’s Librarian

Would you love yourself if you had purple polka-dotted lips, or horns protruding from your nose, or hair that’s like a porcupine? Of course!

To celebrate Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month, the Kansas State Library has provided copies of this year’s choice, “I like Myself” by Karen Beaumont, to each public library in the state. With funds provided by the Manhattan Library Association, Manhattan’s public library was able to give each family, who attended storytime the week of November 11​-16​, a free copy of the book.

Why is it so important to read to a child birth through five years old? 90% of a child’s brain is developed before the age of five, with 80% of that development relating directly to the activities children experience with and observe in parents and caregivers. When parents, caregivers, teachers and librarians read, sing, and play with young children every day, they are helping young brains to grow and form the necessary foundation for reading.

I like Myself” is a fun look at the importance of self-esteem and acceptance. What better time to learn about how awesome it is to be ourselves than when our brains are developing? With positive text, bright illustrations and bopping rhymes, this book will become a lifelong favorite.

Another book that explores the importance of self-esteem is “ABC I like me!” by Nancy Carlson. This fun take on learning the ABC’s also teaches the importance of feeling good about ourselves. “I Like Me” by the same author introduces us to our best friend and that best friend is me!

Be Who You Are” by Todd Parr is a bright, colorful, whimsical book for toddlers and beginning readers to help them embrace the importance of being who they are, just as they are. It explores what makes all people unique, whether it’s appearances, the way a person talks, where they are from, who is in the family – everyone is special and should be celebrated!

The Skin You Live In” by Michael Tyler emphasizes how beautiful all are, no matter what a person’s skin looks like. This book introduces concepts of diversity, acceptance, social differences, and self-esteem that play a role in making us all unique.

I Love All of Me (Wonderful Me)” by Lorie Ann Glover is a body positive board book that is fun to read while teaching baby about their wonderful body. Any time a parent or caregiver reads to their child and can incorporate physical movement like wiggling toes and noses and cheeks, they help strengthen a child’s understanding of words.

There’s a jungle dance in Africa where everyone shows up to party in “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae and poor Gerald doesn’t feel that he can dance as gracefully as the warthogs waltzing, chimps doing the cha-cha, or baboons performing a Scottish reel. When Gerald meets a violin playing cricket who tells him to just feel the music, his body moves and grooves to the jungle beat.  “We can all dance when we find the music that we love” is a theme we can all connect to.  This book lets us know that it’s ok to just be yourself and have fun. Manhattan Public Library has several different versions of this book available, including the book with read along CD, and a fun cartoon version of the story available free to library card holders though our Digital Library on Hoopla and Kanopy.

Manhattan Public Library has several copies of “I like Myself” in our collection, as well as a Spanish language copy. Stop by the children’s library through the end of the year to check out our fun interactive display based on this book aimed at building the skills pre-readers need to enjoy a lifelong love of reading.

For more information on Kansas Reads to Preschoolers visit

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Books and Food to Be Thankful for

Books and Food to Be Thankful for

by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian

            To me, the best part of fall is making food to share with family and friends. Holiday cooking and baking are all about sharing, and I love the feeling that comes from showing my appreciation for others by gifting them with delicious food. I’m already making lists of what I want to make over Thanksgiving, and I’ll continue baking regularly for everyone I know clear into January. I’ve seen a lot of recent picture books that echo my gratitude for food, family, and friends, and, best of all, there’s something that will appeal to every palate.

Dawn Casey and Genevieve Godbout’s “Apple Cake” captures the essence of thanksgiving and gratitude. The deceptively simple book follows a girl and her dog as they gather ingredients for apple cake at their farm and thank everything from the bees to the earth for their parts in making apple cake. The warmth this book radiates in its illustrations and message makes it a delightful read, and the text would serve as a lovely blessing for Thanksgiving or another holiday celebration.

Around the Table that Grandad Built,” by Melanie Heuiser Hill and Jaime Kim, is another book perfect for Thanksgiving celebrations. Structured around the rhythm of “The House that Jack Built,” this book shows a family preparing for a large meal centered around—you guessed it—the table that Grandad built. I love the mentions of past memories and traditions, like using “the glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding,” and the list of foods they’re making sounds positively scrumptious. The bright, cheery illustrations are inviting, and I love the diversity of the family featured.

Fry bread holds a special place in Native American families and cultures, and Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal dive into what it means to them in “Fry Bread.” This book is both entertaining and informative, telling the story of a family celebration made special with fry bread and also explaining the history of where fry bread originated. Best of all, the illustrations are warm and comforting, like a grandmother’s love or a fresh piece of fry bread.

For a slightly more fantastical take on family cooking traditions, check out Eric Velasquez’s “Octopus Stew.” When Ramsey’s grandma starts cooking an octopus for octopus stew, he ends up having to save her from the rampaging creature. This is a fun, lively look at cooking getting out of hand and also features Afro-Latinx characters, who are rarely seen in children’s books.

Lou Peacock and Jasmeen Ismail liven up the traditional morality tale about the importance of sharing in “Nuts!” Two squirrels are happily collecting nuts until—uh-oh!—they discover the other squirrel poaching on their nut-hunting territory. In the end, the squirrels see the benefits of sharing with each other and other animals. This book is great for young readers, using few words and expressive illustrations to tell an engaging, relatable story.

During the fall, food holds even more importance for animals than it does for humans, as they have to eat in order to survive the cold winter months. You can learn all about the winter survival strategies of different animals in “Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter” by Laura Purdie Salas and Claudine Gévry. Informational sidebars accompany the main text, highlighting how animals from foxes to whales and butterflies survive the coldest months, and notes in the back talk about each animal’s survival strategies in greater detail.

Lynne Rae Perkins’s “Wintercake” does what I thought could never be done: it makes me want to try fruitcake. Thomas the gopher has misplaced his dried fruits, the ones he’s been saving for Winter’s Eve wintercake. With the help of his friend Lucy and a stranger, he recovers his dried fruits, then decides to do a kind turn for the stranger and share his wintercake in return. Perkins’s story combines several plot threads with inviting illustrations and dry humor to make a story about friendship, holidays, and food that is to be savored. It’ll also make you hungry for some cake.

Make sure you stop into the library throughout the holiday season and find some more books to be thankful for. If you’d like, you can go beyond reading about food and check out some cookbooks, too, which are sure to help make your holidays tastier. Be sure to share your favorite books with others, and you can even ask our staff for their favorite holiday and food book recommendations, too.

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by Jared Richards, Technology Supervisor

In times of stress, I find myself escaping into nostalgia, taking a break from my current existence and losing myself in a simpler time. To be fair to my present, that simpler time probably wasn’t any better, but time has the welcoming ability of blurring the harsh edges and giving everything a rose-colored hue, thus allowing me a bit of escapism and a chance to catch my breath.

I first noticed myself doing this in grad school when I needed an escape that wouldn’t increase my mental load. This led to rediscovering old favorites from my childhood. Today I go back, not only to escape stress, but also to revisit different periods in my life and rekindle old memories.

In my twenties, I worked at a movie theater and had all the time in the world to read stacks of books. My interests were all over the place, but I spent a lot of time reading historical nonfiction. A few of my favorites are “Salt” by Mark Kurlansky, which showcases the importance of salt throughout the history of the world; “Longitude” by Dava Sobel, the story of how John Harrison came to invent the marine chronometer to help sailors at sea determine their location; and “Colossus” by Michael Hiltzik, about the building of the Hoover Dam. Prior to construction of the Hoover Dam, J. Gregory Tierney fell from a survey barge and drowned in the Colorado River on December 20, 1922. Exactly thirteen years later, on December 20, 1935, Tierney’s son, Patrick Tierney, became the last person to die during construction, after falling to his death. As Hiltzik put it, this was a rather “mordant bookend of the project’s record of human loss.”

In college, I read the classics, because I feel like that’s the time in life when you not only have the time to do that, but you’re also still trying to figure out your place in life. I read Ayn Rand, both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” I found both to be interesting, if unnecessarily long, but neither was really my thing. I enjoyed “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller because it was humorous and had an interesting format. After reading it, I purchased the movie through Blockbuster (gone but never forgotten) and liked it almost as much as the book. Library patrons now have access to Kanopy, an online video streaming service, where you can check out up to 10 movies a month, including the original “Catch-22.”

Kurt Vonnegut dominated my high school years, “Welcome to the Monkey House” in particular, and Jules Verne dominated my time in middle school. Reading my grandpa’s old copies of “Popular Mechanics” featuring flying cars, and Verne’s visions of the future, led to hours of trying to envision what my future would look like. I’m sad to admit my predictive prowess pales in comparison to Verne’s, and is certainly far less grand.

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Lackey, introduced me to the “Goosebumps” series by R. L. Stine. I was a bit distracted in class that year, maybe even distracting, so things could have turned out much differently. Instead, I walked away with only positive memories, a bag of confiscated toys, and a fondness for “Goosebumps,” a series that was creepy and funny, and maybe just a little bit scary, but nothing I couldn’t handle with the lights on.

As a child, I was enamored with Laurel & Hardy. My grandpa had a collection on VHS tapes, and I am still impressed with how durable VHS tapes are. I must have watched each one somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand times, and, much like Laurel & Hardy, they never failed me. One of my favorites was “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” which you can check out any time you want using Hoopla, another one of our online resources. I’d also recommend the 2018 film “Stan & Ollie,” featuring Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy. Both actors clearly cared for the person they portrayed and went to great lengths to personify them, even down to the smallest mannerisms.

Recommending something to someone can be tricky because we all like different things, but I bet you know yourself pretty well. So instead, I’ll simply suggest, that every once in a while, you escape into nostalgia. Hit the pause button on whatever is currently stressing you out, take a break from living in the future rather than the present, and indulge in your past. The familiarity is comforting.

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by Rhonna Hargett, LIS Associate Director

One of the things I love about Manhattan is how diverse it is. This is partially thanks to K-State and Fort Riley, but if we look back a bit further we can see how Manhattan’s African-American community has been here from near the beginning of the town and really exploded when the Exodusters moved to Kansas in the late 1870s. The Riley County Genealogical Society has recognized the 140th anniversary of the occasion with their new book “The Exodusters of 1879: And Other Black Pioneers of Riley County, Kansas” which inspired me to dig into this topic and highlight the titles we have that help tell the story.

Kansas was formed at the height of the slavery debate and became the center of tensions that eventually led to the Civil War. In “Frontier Manhattan”, Kevin G. W. Olson shares the story of Manhattan’s abolitionist settlers, who moved west to cast votes to make Kansas a free state. This abolitionist background may have sown the seeds for more inclusiveness than many other places in Kansas experienced. Manhattan’s first black citizens started coming during the Civil War, and K-State (called Kansas State Agricultural College at the time) welcomed African-American students in its very first class in 1863.

In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction and removed troops from the southern states. This removed the protection for black Americans and ushered in a new era of violence and persecution, pushing many to leave the place of their birth and move north. Kansas, with its proximity and history as a free state, was the destination for many. The first two railroad cars bringing “Exodusters” to Manhattan arrived April 24, 1879. In the Riley County Genealogical Society’s “The Exodusters of 1879,” Marcia Schuley and Margaret Parker researched documents from the past and have compiled them into a comprehensive work about this vital period in our community’s history.

“The Exodusters” begins with a summary of the history surrounding the Exodusters (or Exodites, as they were called in Manhattan). With several photographs and newspaper clippings, Schuley and Parker have fleshed out a rich part of our community’s history. The summary is followed by profiles of the Exodusters and other African-American residents in the 1860s through the 1880s. They have gathered information from several sources to give deeper insight into the lives of this group that shaped the town we live in today. By gathering information from the census, newspaper articles, and other sources, they manage to create a reasonably thorough view of each individual. They have often been able to determine the makeup of the families, what work people did, and how they died. The appendix discusses the Old Paper Mill (where the Exodusters were housed when they first came to town), maps of where their homes were, those that served in the Civil War, and more resources that expand upon the information in the book.

We can’t talk about the history of Manhattan’s black population without mention of Geraldine Baker Walton’s book “140 Years of Soul: A History of African-Americans in Manhattan, Kansas 1865-2005.” Walton was the head of Reference at Manhattan Public Library, and during her time in that position, developed a curiosity for her own family background and the history of Manhattan’s black community. She shares background for many families in the community and also gives more detail about Manhattan’s black institutions, such as the Douglass Center, the churches, businesses, clubs, and connections with Fort Riley. The appendix includes several family trees.

Kansas’ role in the history of African-Americans has been significant, if not well-known, and Manhattan has always been heavily involved in that history. The Riley County Genealogical Society and the Riley County Historical Society have done excellent work in preserving that history and we at the library are delighted to help make their research available to the public.