Choose Your Battles: D&D and What It Teaches Us

D&DDungeons & Dragons and rumors have gone hand in hand since Gary Gygax released the game in 1974… and yet, the core idea of the game is to get together, make friends, and tell stories. The game’s parent company, Hasbro, even works hard to make D&D family friendly. This weekend, Hasbro is hosting its first convention called HASCON, where families can join in on short, family-oriented campaigns with experienced DMs and pick up things like a custom My Little Pony dice tin with a set of sparkly pink dice inside. You can even have your photo taken with a friendly, cuddly goblin on the D&D floor! D&D players also frequently stream campaigns for Extra Life, playing strictly to raise donations for children’s hospitals. This year, players will be streaming on November 3rd and 4th from all over the globe to raise money for the kids!

D&D isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. It’s meant to be fun, but D&D is also frustrating after the initial rush wears off. Wheelhouse Workshop, a therapy group formed by two self-proclaimed geeks, uses tabletop role-playing to teach coping mechanisms to players for things like conflict resolution and frustration tolerance, among others. The safety of *playing* D&D means you get tired of the rules, but have to focus on controlling your frustrations to get your character out of a tight spot. You get sick of the limits, but have to work within the [relative] safety of those limits to work with your adventuring companions to defeat monsters. You have to add up your character’s attack bonus – or worse, calculate how much damage they just took, and man, things aren’t looking too good – and hold on, when did math come into this?

When you look past the role-playing aspects of Dungeons & Dragons, there are countless skills a player must rely on in order to make the game function: mathematics being one of the most vital. Nearly every aspect of the game relies on math in order to work, although it may not seem that way at first – you roll four six-sided dice six times to determine your character’s base ability scores, which then determine how you continue to flesh them out for the rest of the game. For example, my half-elf rogue, Bree, has scores of 12, 15, 13, 9, 14, and 12. The Dungeon Master may ask for a for a wisdom check (to use her knowledge of Medicine to stabilize a wounded teammate). Bree would then use her score of 15, plus an additional +2 modifier for a total of 17 for either ability check.

There’s a huge educational benefit to D&D that often gets ignored as people focus on the “game” and “monster” aspect of it, preferring to focus on the stereotypes that are traded around. As Adam Davis and Adam Johns show, there is a therapeutic quality to the games as well, and with younger players creating their own campaigns, lore, and rules, the possibilities are endless as they ask questions and rediscover the world they live in to ensure that things make sense. One common fear is that kids playing role-playing games won’t be socialized, but the very nature of D&D is social: you cannot play without socializing with the others on your team. You learn how to problem-solve while playing D&D – and that, my friends, is perhaps the most important skill of all.

Dungeons and Dragons Flyer

Beginning Saturday, September 9th at 1pm, the Bowman Library will host teen groups playing Dungeons and Dragons. Because of the need to keep groups consistent, there will be registration, but all new groups will be formed from the waiting list, so be sure to register.

Now that you’ve learned so much, grab your dice and your character sheet, and get to playing!


Fun and Fabulous Teen Events for Fall

Here at the Bowman Library, we are excited to be expanding our programs for teens this fall. In addition to bringing back your favorites, such as Anime & Pocky, Manga Art, and Game Night, thanks to the suggestions from our Teen Advisers, we have added the following:

Teen Art Nights
1st Thursdays @ 5 pm
Join other teen art enthusiasts in the exploration of different art styles, techniques, and mediums, and display your creations in the Bowman Teen area. Make it your own! Personalize the Teen area at Bowman Library.


Bowman Teen Writer’s Guild
3rd Thursdays @ 5 pm
Participate in the creation of a Bowman Teen newsletter with creative writing, book reviews, poetry, and event promotion.

NANOWRIMO Young Writer’s Program
Tuesdays in November @ 6 pm
Join other teens participating in National Novel Writing Month.
Begins Tuesday, October 31—Launch your novel-writing project with a party!
Ends Tuesday, December 5—Celebrate finishing your novel!

Dungeons and Dragons
Saturdays @ 1pm (beginning Sept 9) Teen groups get together for this traditional role playing game. Registration is required.


Looking for something to do during your day off from school? Friday, September 1st is a staff development day, so we’re going to take advantage of your free day to kick of Library Card Sign-up Month!  This year’s theme is DC Comics and the Teen Titans so we will be playing a double feature, Battle of the Billionaires!

Come watch the Dark Knight and Iron Man, back to back. You decide who has the best gadgets.

You may also wish to take note of a few small changes in our regular programs. For example, after our showing of Voltron on Monday, August 28, instead of sampling a new anime each month, beginning September 25th our Anime & Pocky nights will host a season of Death Note, playing 2-3 episodes each month. This gives everyone an opportunity to get into the series, providing a more complete understanding of the plot.

Anime & Pocky
4th Mondays @ 6 pm
Eat some pocky and snacks and check out our  manga and anime titles.
August 28: Voltron
Join us Sept 25, Oct 23, & Nov 27 for 2-3 episodes of Death Note per month.

Manga Art is back with a new time.

Manga Art
1st & 3rd Mondays @ 6 pm
Join us as you color enchanting designs or bring a sketch book & create manga art. Materials provided.


Game Night is a definite highlight to the activities offered at the Bowman Library and will be back with monthly themes!

Check out this video we took from our July event.

Play close attention to October’s Game Night because we plan to include an Escape Room and will need your help.

Game Night
3rd Fridays @ 5:30 pm—8 pm
Middle & high school students stop by to play electronic, card, & computer games. Enjoy snacks!
September 15, Superheroes
October 20: Escape Room
November 17: Fantasy
December 15: Ugly Festive Party

Have more ideas or wish to be involved in future planning? Participate in our Teen Advisory Board.

Teen Advisory Board
2nd Mondays @ 6 pm
A planning group open to middle & high school students for library programs & events. To join call Donna Hughes at 540-869-9000 x215

There is always more to do and see at the library. Our teen writers will soon have their first newsletter out and it’ll keep you up to date, as well as give you more great YA book suggestions. Here is a sneak preview of our first draft: September 2017 Teen Newsletter

Here’s to a great fall season!

Worker Wednesday: A Bowman STEM Activity for Preteens and Teens

The Bowman Library will be offering a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program aimed at preteens and teens beginning July 5th.


Each Wednesday at 5:30 pm we will have something different to explore with special presenters and hands on activities for preteens and teens, ages 9 to 17. Space is limited so registration is required to participate, but observers are welcome. Space is limited on most dates so book mark this page to have a direct link to the registration page for each event!

July 5th – Squishy Circuits! 
legoDiscovering and making electrical circuits!

See a demonstration of a Tesla Coil in action, then get hands-on to learn about electricity by creating and lighting your own circuit with conductive play dough.

July 12th – Sound Waves


Discovering sound waves and musical pitch.

Learn how sound is created and explore musical terms with pitch. Use this knowledge to create music with Boomwhackers in different octaves, observing how the size changes the sound.

July 19th – Stone Stacking (ages 11-17)
steinmann-60007_640_burnedDiscover the challenge of stone stacking!

Local Stone Stackers will demonstrate their patience and knowledge of balance as they build creative stone  structures. There will be 8 teams creating their rock stack. (This event is for ages 11 – 17 for strength requirements and safety for all participants.)

July 26 – Animal Habitats
squirrel-47528_1280Discover the wonder of animals and their homes–burrows, nests, dens, dams.

Valley Wildlife Care will talk about how animals prepare their homes within a habitat that provides shelter and nearby food.

August 2 – Wood Plank Construction
keva_burnedTake the challenge to build with KEVA planks and construction materials.

Groups of teens will work together on challenges using wooden planks. Who can build the tallest tower? The widest bridge? Recreate a complex structure or a maze!

August 9 – Build-A-Band (All Ages Welcome!)
amber waves

Discover how to build a band with sound, style, and musicians!

Teens and their families will enjoy a performance by the Amber Waves Band while they learn about the instruments that make up a bluegrass band and their individual roles.

Summer Opportunities for Teens

Teens in middle and high school, are you ready for Summer?

The Bowman Library has some great opportunities for teens to escape the heat for some socializing, fun, and a little learning on the side.

2017 Reading By Design will continue with your favorite activities, such as Anime & Pocky, Manga Art Club, and Game Night, with a few exciting additions, like our Worker Wednesday STEM activities, and a bit of Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey with Doctor Who.

Worker Wednesdays will meet Wednesday evenings starting in July at 5:30 with special STEM challenges, including exploring circuits, challenges in rock stacking, learning about sound waves by creating music with boom whackers, and building challenges with KEVA planks. Registration will be required for participants but spectators are encouraged.

On Thursdays in July, the Teen Advisory Board will be offering a showing of the first season of Doctor Who, featuring Christopher Eccleston as the ninth doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.

Game Night will have add on activities this summer, starting with photography in June, and in July, watch for a library sponsored Escape Room! More details on that to come.

Our Anime Nights this summer include Noragami, Hetalia, Durarara, and Voltron, with snacks, including Pocky.

Get out those calendars and mark your events!

Summer Events
Wednesdays, July 5—Aug 9 at 5:30pm (registration required)
Worker Wednesdays, STEM events for ages 9-17
Thursdays, July 6—July 27 at 5:30pm
Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey, Doctor Who Season 1

Monthly Events
1st & 3rd Mondays at 5:30pm, Manga Art Club
2nd Monday at 6pm, Teen Advisory Board
4th Monday at 6:30pm Anime and Pocky
3rd Friday at 5:30pm Teen Game Night
Saturdays at 10am, Chess at Bowman
Saturdays at 1pm, Pokémon TCG

Bowman Library Chess Club Members Win Big at Tournament

Chess Players display trophies

Matthew Clark, Henry Fowler, and James Fowler display their trophies.

Congratulations to the three members of the Stephens City Chess Club who won trophies at the SilverKnights Spring Breakout K-8 Tournament in Ashland, VA!  Three out of the four semi-finalists for the 4th to 8th grade division were Stephens City Chess Club members. Of those who made it to the semi-finals, Henry Fowler won first place, James Fowler won third place, and Matthew Clark won fourth place.

These young men have honed their skills at the chess meets hosted by Bowman Library and founded by Matthew Clark. The all-ages, all skill-levels club meets every Saturday at 10AM on the Reading Porch.  The chess meets are free and open to all, no registration required.  Check the library’s calendar for more details.  Learn more about the Stephens City Chess Club at their website:


Anime and Pocky: Your Lie in April

40e6c04e05ce1efb08815b870a6d39331412797514_fullWhen Your Lie in April aired in 2014-2015, it had anime fans everywhere reaching for their tissue boxes. Emotional, inspiring, and heartbreaking, Your Lie in April is a love story starring a boy named Kosei Arima.

Kosei used to be a child prodigy on the piano, termed by those around him as “The Human Metronome” for his stunning accuracy. However, when his mother dies, he is left traumatized – and strangely, unable to hear the sound of the piano when he plays. And so he leaves the world of music, for what he is certain will be forever.

All that changes when he meets Kaori Miyazono. She starts dating his friend, Ryota Watari, but she is spunky, straightforward, cheerful, beautiful, and an incredibly talented violinist – Kosei can’t help but fall for her. Kaori manages to convince him to accompany her for a music competition and thus, with the help of his childhood friends Tsubaki and Ryota and others close to him, leads Kosei on an inspiring journey to reclaim his lost passion.pocky

Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Your Lie in April is a story you won’t want to miss. Middle and high school students are welcome to join us during our Anime and Pocky night at the Bowman Library Monday, April 24th from 6:00pm – 7:30pm.  We’ll provide refreshments, including pocky!

*Review by Alex Costello

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood


Anime enthusiast and library volunteer, Alex Costello, provides us with a review of this months featured anime: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Thank you, Alex!

Ever hear that anime can’t be real art? Fans of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood* will strongly disagree! Often declared as one of the greatest anime ever made, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood became a classic to fans all over the world. Not really into anime (yet)? This anime is considered a great starter series for those looking to dip their toes into the anime world!

“Alchemy: the science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter. However, it is not an all-powerful art. It is impossible to create something out of nothing. If one wishes to obtain something, something of equal value must be given. This is the law of equivalent exchange; the basis of all alchemy. In accordance to this law, there is a taboo among alchemists. Human transmutation is strictly forbidden. For what could equal the value of a human soul?”

Edward and Alphonse Elric live with their mother in a small sheep town in Amestris. However, a pandemic sweeps through their idyllic world and takes their mother from them, leaving them lost and lonely. Determined to see her again, the young boys turn to alchemy in search for the secret of human transmutation, believing that they can bring their mother back to life. But there is a reason human transmutation is a taboo among alchemists: the transmutation fails, and their punishment is costly. Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, forced to live as a disembodied soul bound to a suit of armor.fullmetal123

Realizing the gravity of their error, the Elric brothers seek after what they believe to be their only hope: the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. Said to give alchemists the ability to bypass the fundamental alchemic law of equivalent exchange, granting unrivaled power. The brothers believe the stone will help them restore their bodies to their whole forms. Edward joins the military to have access to their restricted research, and the two are plunged into a world of secrets and corruption that penetrate deep into the ranks of the military – and they learn that the secrets behind the Philosopher’s Stone may be darker than they ever realized.
Based off the classic manga by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood offers a rich, emotional story, with unforgettable characters,  set in a fascinating world of pockyalchemy  and intrigue. Middle and high school students are welcome to join us for Full Metal Alchemist during our Anime and Pocky night at the Bowman Library Monday, March 27 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm.  We’ll provide refreshments, including pocky!

(*Quick note: There are actually two anime adaptions of Fullmetal Alchemist. The first one, simply titled Fullmetal Alchemist,  aired while the manga was still ongoing, and so it branches off into its own storyline. But due to the success of the manga and the first series, a second adaption was created, this one fallowing the manga’s story much more closely. The second one, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the one being viewed this upcoming anime night.)

February Anime and Pocky Night!

yuri_on_ice_key_visualJoin other teens on Monday, February 27th from 6:00-7:30 at the Bowman Library for our Anime and Pocky!

This month the Teen Advisory Board has chosen Yuri!!! on Ice.

Yuri Katsuki carried the hopes of Japan on his shoulders to win the Grand Prix Finale ice skating competition but suffered a crushing defeat. Returning to Kyushu, Yuri puts his career on hold. While deciding whether or not he plans to retire or continue skating, his idol, five-time consecutive world champion Russian figure skater, Victor Nikiforov, seeks him out and offers to coach him, along with  Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater, for the next Grand Prix series. pocky

The anime starts at 6pm. Japanese inspired snacks and drinks will be served!


2017 John Newbery Medal Winner Announced!

Barnhill_GirlWhoDrankMoon_FINAL_PRNT.inddThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  

Barnhill’s original fairy tale adventure is full of good and bad witches, magic, monsters, and dragons. It has been racking up accolades all year long, including being named: 

A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
Named to KirkusReviews’ Best Books of 2016
2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice

Now, as a John Newbery Medal winner, it has been awarded the field’s highest honor.  School Library Journal called it “An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.”  Read the full review hereSchool Library Journal Review

HRL’s copy is currently on order and will appear in our catalog shortly.  While you’re waiting for it, try out Barnhill’s other works: Author Search: Kelly Barnhill

Newbery Honor Books

  • “Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away”– Provided by publisher.


  • Crossing paths at an inn, thirteenth-century travelers impart the tales of a monastery oblate, a Jewish refugee, and a psychic peasant girl with a loyal greyhound, the three of whom join forces on a chase through France to escape persecution.


Image resultWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (HRL copies currently on order, look for them shortly)

  • Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle’s calm world is shattered, along with everything she’s ever known about right and wrong.

When Betty disappears, suspicion falls on strange, gentle loner Toby. As Wolf Hollow turns against him, and tensions quickly mount, Annabelle must do everything in her power to protect Toby – and to find Betty, before it is too late.

Powerful, poignant and lyrical, Wolf Hollow is an unforgettable story.

The Newbery Medal is a wonderful resource to help find high-quality children’s books.  You can find out more out last year’s winners here: 2016 Newbery Winner Announced! and find all past winners on our booklist here: Newbery Medal Award Winners

Anime & Pocky: Attack on Titan!


Alex Costello, a library volunteer and anime fanatic, has written a post for us to highlight this month’s Teen Anime and Pocky Night: Attack on Titan!

654681f8eefdc13ad8dee196ff2a74f71366329524_fullWe’ve all wanted to live in a fictional world, but you might want to avoid world of Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人 Shingeki no Kyojin). This world is populated by titans: giants whose only purpose seems to be feeding on humans. Appearing mysteriously over 100 years ago, they drove humanity to the brink of extinction. Those that remain are protected by three great walls – Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina. The only thing standing between them and total annihilation, these walls have stood tall for the last 100 years, serving as guardians. The only ones who encounter the outside world – and the titans – are the brave and almost certainly doomed soldiers belonging to the Survey Corps: those charged with exploring the territory outside the walls in hopes of reclaiming it.

To eren-jaeger, living in an outer district of Wall Maria called the Shiganshina, these walls are not protecting humanity – they are imprisoning it. Wanting nothing more than to see the outside of the walls, Eren dreams of one day become a member of the Survey Corps and serving under the Wings of Freedom. On one ill-fated day, a massive titan standing over 60 meters tall, known forever onward as the Colossal Titan, appears suddenly in front of Shiganshina. It kicks a gaping hole in Wall Maria, forcing the occupants that are able to evacuate into Wall Rose for refuge. Those that cannot are doomed to be eaten by the oncoming titan hoards. Eren loses his mother that day, and in the wake of the destruction made by the titans, vows to kill every last one of them.

Eren, his foster sister Mikasa, and childhood friend Armin Arlert all join the Training Corps with the goal of fighting off extinction and claiming victory over the titans –  a goal which to many feels as far away as the titans once did. But the key his father gave him the day of the attack may unlock the secret behind the titans and the path to victory. Eren might just be humanity’s only hope.

Now a worldwide hit, Attack on Titan is exciting, tragic, and dark. Teenagers are welcome come enjoy the show and eat some Pocky on Monday, January 23 at 6pm at the Bowman Library.