Free, Online Entertainment to Keep Your Kids Occupied
by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian
Within the past couple weeks, coronavirus has swept the country, affecting most aspects of our lives. Schools have closed, the library has closed, and businesses are increasingly encouraging their employees to work from home instead of coming into the office. All of this is to encourage social distancing—essentially, staying at home as much as possible so as to slow the spread of germs. This is a wonderful concept for introverts like me, but it can be a bit more difficult for parents, who have to keep their kids entertained while also making sure they wash their hands thoroughly. Fortunately, the library has plenty of free, online resources that can help. All of these can be found by visiting the library’s website, www.MHKLibrary.org, and going to the “Online Resources” page.
For beginning readers, BookFlix is a great online reading option. BookFlix pairs fiction and nonfiction books on many topics, like spring, farms, and dinosaurs, allowing children to read along with a narrator or by themselves. After kids finish each pair of books, they can play through simple puzzles to help with reading comprehension. BookFlix is a state resource, meaning it’s automatically available to anyone living in the state of Kansas.
The TumbleBooks Library has a wide variety of kids’ books for all ages and types of readers, ranging from picture books to graphic novels. Picture books and beginning readers have a read-along option, while graphic novels and higher-level ebooks offer a more traditional reading experience. The best part of the TumbleBooks Library is that there’s no waiting and no checkout limits, meaning kids can read their favorite Geronimo Stilton comics or Kate DiCamillo books for hours without worrying about stopping. AudioBookCloud is also available, with audiobooks for kids through adults, including loads of Mary Poppins and other classics.
Sunflower eLibrary is an ebook staple at the library, offering a robust library of ebooks and digital audiobooks. Patrons can only check out 5 items at once, but just return items you’re done reading in order to check out more books. Sunflower does have limited copies of books available, so you may have to wait in line for popular books. Kids, teens, and adults can all find books to read on Sunflower, including some read-along beginning readers and a good variety of comics. Best of all, many popular series are on Sunflower, like Paw Patrol, Dora the Explorer, Dog Man, and Harry Potter.
Hoopla offers ebooks, audiobooks, comics, movies, TV shows, and music, all for kids and adults. Hoopla has a limit of 5 checkouts per month per library card, but everything is immediately available to read. Alongside oodles of popular ebooks and audiobooks, Hoopla’s got a nice catalog of Nickelodeon shows and Disney soundtracks, but the comics are my favorite part. From Big Nate to Minecraft and Lumberjanes to Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Hoopla seems to have most popular kids’ comic series out there.
For free movies, look no further than Kanopy Kids. Kanopy provides movies galore, and Kanopy Kids is its children’s section. Unlike the main section of Kanopy, which has a 10-checkout-per-month limit, Kanopy Kids allows unlimited views of kids’ movies and TV shows. And, boy, what movies and shows does it have! PBS Kids shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Berenstain Bears, and Wild Kratts, and select seasons of Sesame Street. On top of that, Kanopy Kids has a wide variety of movies and animated versions of picture books, like Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. If you want something a little more educational, try the language-learning videos to teach your kids a new language.
There are also non-library resources available which can further enrich your kids’ days. Scholastic Learn at Home has brief, themed lesson plans available to teach children about different subjects, for a range of age levels. You can also find online storytime videos at both Storyline Online and World Book Day—these won’t replace the fun of storytime, but they may help. There are also many lists of good educational games for kids, which can help your children while away the hours until schools are back in session.
Though we’re closed for the time being, the library will do all it can to support our patrons during this uncertain time. Our online resources will continue to be available 24/7, and we’ll be sharing other fun resources and news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Until we see you again, happy reading, and please wash your hands.
Spring into Spring with Healthy Habits
by Brittani Ivan, LIS Library Assistant 2
Spring is upon us at last! For a lot of us, warmer weather means we can really buckle down on New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. Of course, it isn’t always easy to find the motivation to go out for a run or play tennis in City Park, especially when it seems like everything we learned as children about exercise and nutrition is wrong now! Luckily Manhattan Public Library has got you covered, with some fascinating and up-to-date books that will help you put your best foot forward.
Bill Bryson’s “The Body, a Guide for Occupants” comes in at a hefty four hundred and fifty pages, making it just as useful for strength training as it is for giving you an inside look at how your body works. Bryson’s conversational style and extensive citations make it a great choice for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about how their body works and the ways it might go right (or wrong) based on their behaviors.
On that note, did you know that icing may actually slow down the healing process? Neither did I, but Christie Aschwanden’s “Good to go: what the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery” has the science to prove it. As Aschwanden tries out some of the most hyped recovery methods in today’s athletic world, you’ll learn about the importance of sleep, how recovery works, and just how many common sense practices in athletics today are backed up by nothing but hot air.
If your goal is less improving athletic performance and more improving your overall health, Lauren Kessler’s “Counterclockwise: my year of hypnosis, hormones, dark chocolate, and other adventures in the world of anti-aging” may be the book for you. Kessler deftly takes her own advice and weaves together “the power of fact and the resonance of story” to present a compelling narrative about the search for better health as we age. You’ll be enlightened by her straightforward explanations and charmed by her self-deprecating account of the effects (or lack thereof) of various anti-aging methods, from diet detoxes to daily exercise on your overall health and biological youth.
While knowing how different training and recovery regimes actually effect long-term health makes it a lot easier to feel motivated, you can’t outrun a bad diet. As eating well can be difficult, here are some great cookbooks to help you out:
While I’m not really much of a runner myself, “Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes: A Cookbook” by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky is a stand-out for me. It combines recipes with advice on how to meal plan and budget effectively, and even includes some short exercise routines after each section. It’s much easier to remember to do strength training when your cookbook gives you a routine to do while you wait for your salmon to bake! I’m a particular fan of the Miso Butter Salmon and Amy’s Recovery Pizza.
If you, like me, want to improve both your health and the state of your wallet, Makiko Itoh’s “The Just Bento Cookbook” may be the book for you. The quick cooking times and “bento box” organization make it easy to craft balanced lunches to take to work or class. Some of my personal favorites are the Ginger Pork, Chicken Karage, and Edamame Tofu Nugget bentos, though one of the best features of this book is the ability to mix and match recipes to make personalized lunches that are still nutritionally balanced.
Lunch isn’t the only meal of the day, though, which is why I like Bree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman cooks dinnertime: comfort classics, freezer food, 16-minute meals, and other delicious ways to solve supper.” I’m a huge soup fan, and the Vegetarian Chili and the Hamburger Soup are filling, delicious, and best of all, reheat well. I tend to use this cookbook to create a healthy, large-batch meal to cut down on how much cooking I have to do throughout the week itself. And as an aside, I’ve got to say that the chocolate chip cookie recipe in this book is the best I’ve ever had!
So let’s all strap on our running shoes and start making our health and fitness goals a reality! If you want more recommendations on good non-fiction books about the science of athletics or a new cookbook to try out, come on by Manhattan Public Library and ask a librarian.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
by Rachel Cunningham, Circulation Supervisor
Many of us have sensitively said these words to a friend, family member, or co-worker. Although the stigma surrounding mental health and asking for help have begun to improve, many people reach out to friends or family before beginning the process of finding a professional. Because they’re often the first place we turn, it’s imperative that each of us finds our family, tribe, herd, team or other support group. In “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond,” Lydia Denworth discusses research suggesting social relationships can increase survival by over 50%, surpassing healthy weight, exercise, or dropping a smoking habit. These relationships allow us to be seen and heard by others, and offer a built-in safety net. These are the people with whom we share our daily joy, turmoil, annoyance, and stress. These are the people who see our struggles and may lovingly say to us, “maybe you should talk to someone.” A therapist herself, Lori Gottlieb reached out to friends and some of her colleagues before scheduling her first appointment with her new therapist, Wendell. Yes, even therapists need a therapist.
In her memoir, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone,” Gottlieb encounters cardigan-sporting Wendell after her partner of two years, flatly referred to as “Boyfriend” throughout the book, reveals he wants to break off the relationship. Blindsided by his decision, Gottlieb initially attempts to carry on as usual. She conducts her scheduled therapy appointments with the patients at her practice and discusses the event with a friend, who is also a therapist. However, as her breakdowns become more frequent and difficult to control, Gottlieb recognizes she must enlist the help of a professional, if anything, to prove that Boyfriend is indeed a narcissistic sociopath. After consulting colleagues to find a good therapist for “a friend,” she’s referred to Wendell, an experienced therapist, to provide “crisis management” for her unexpected breakup.
Unfortunately, therapy turns out to be much more challenging than Gottlieb hopes it will be. Instead of providing a Boyfriend-Is-A-Narcissistic-Sociopath stamp and supplying steps to mend, Wendell questions a key statement Gottlieb makes. Between sobs she explains, “You have to understand, I was expecting that we would spend the rest of our lives together. This was how things were supposed to go, and now it’s all up in the air. Half my life is over, and I have no idea what’s going to happen.” As Wendell begins to unpack this statement, it becomes clear that Gottlieb might not be mourning the relationship as much as she is grieving the time she feels she’s lost in a life that has more years in the rearview mirror than awaiting her. This was not the work Gottlieb signed up for when she made her appointment, but as is often true for therapy, the presenting problem isn’t always the most important one.
The remainder of the book interweaves Gottlieb’s own therapy journey with her patients’. Readers meet John, an egocentric TV producer; Julie, a newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness; Rita, a senior resigned to end her life on her next birthday; and Charlotte, a young woman battling unhealthy relationships with alcohol, her family, and men. While preserving their privacy, Gottlieb supplies scenes from her patients’ lives that add depth and vulnerability to their character. At each small breakthrough, the reader feels a cathartic release and with each slip, the reader feels equally disappointed and frustrated after being tightly intertwined in the patient’s wavering progression forward. Unconcerned with painting perfect patients, Gottlieb shows the victorious and weak moments alike; yet, she leaves the readers with hope that each one is a little stronger than they were before walking into the therapist’s office. As Gottlieb writes, “Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we take along the way.”
With her background as a therapist, Gottlieb shows how difficult the process of self-healing can be, even for those who understand the value of the work that needs to be done and have the determination to do it. Therapy can be a stressful place; yet, with her wonderful balance of empathy and humor, I often found myself chuckling as I listened to the book while walking my dog. Small attributes of each character, including the author, were relatable, which served to remind the reader that ordinary people, just like you, go to therapy. Think you might want to talk to someone? Psychology Today provides a free search tool for therapists in your area at psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.
Celebrate Women’s History Month
by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director
The world lost an American icon this week with the death of Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who played a big part in moving the U.S. ahead in the space race against the Soviet Union and the main subject in the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. We celebrate Women’s History Month in March every year to honor contributions like Johnson’s and make sure that they are remembered. Here are a few titles to help you mark the occasion.
In “All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation,” author Rebecca Traister explores the lives of single women, both historically and contemporarily. She shares that the quest for more independent lives for unmarried women has improved the lives of all women. Unmarried women have often been a force behind such ground-breaking societal changes as abolition, suffrage, and labor movements. Both informative and engaging, this New York Times Notable Book selection explores an often ignored part of our history.
Do you ever long for your childhood days when books had all the pictures? The Smithsonian has collaborated with respected children’s publisher DK to produce a study of women’s history that will keep your eyes absorbed, along with your mind. “Women: Our Story” is chock full of images and text ranging from all the way back in pre-history up to very recent times, including the lives of famous women and the day-to-day activities of the average woman. Good for browsing as well as for real learning, this book feels very much like a visit to a museum.
“American Indian Women” by ethnologist Patrick Deval is a thorough exploration of an often dismissed population. The book is divided into three sections: cultures before colonization, encounters with colonists, and the American Indian Renaissance. Examining both primary research and oral tradition, Deval attempts to look beyond the idealized images of popular culture to the real lives and accomplishments of Native women. He discusses the objectification experienced when European explorers arrived, the effects of American Indian Schools, and some forgotten stories, such as the warrior women who battled against the English in the 1600s. Rich with illustrations, Deval’s book is a fascinating look into a neglected part of women’s history in America.
Author Cokie Roberts, another American icon recently lost, has done much to cast light on history from the perspective of women. Her last book, “Capital Dames,” tells the story of life for women in Washington D.C. during the years surrounding the Civil War. The conflict leading up to the war and the war itself transformed the capital from an inward-looking political hub into an army camp. Women who were accustomed to very limited roles in society, found that their help was needed in nursing, reporting, and other important tasks. This shift affected how they viewed themselves after the war, creating a shift that led to societal changes for decades to come. Roberts researched government documents and newspapers from the time period, but also personal letters and diaries, allowing her to give her readers a glimpse into the innermost thoughts of the women as they were going through this challenging time.
Black women’s stories have historically been hushed or ignored. Diana Ramey Berry and Kali Gross seek to rectify this wrong with “A Black Women’s History of the United States.” The authors started with the individual stories of eleven women and incorporated their research to illuminate the issues Black women have faced and often overcome throughout history. Berry and Gross have managed to contribute an update to American history in the most inspiring and concise way.
We are living in an exciting time in publishing, when more and more “hidden” stories about women of the past are being shared, providing insight and inspiration for the generations of today and tomorrow. Manhattan Public Library is honored to be a place where these stories can be found.