SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Holiday shopping is in full swing, and books remain a great gift option, according to David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"Whether you are shopping for a gift for family members, co-workers, or neighbors, let me suggest some books as gifts," said Burton.

All of these books share a common theme: neighboring.

In the Neighborhood – Peter Lovenheim was shocked when there was a tragedy at his neighbor's home, and he realized he didn't know a thing about them. He set out to get to know them better, resulting in this touching book. Peter will be our February guest on Neighboring 101 (register online at

Placed for a Purpose – Chris and Elizabeth McKinney live in Columbia, Missouri, and have written an inspired book about the importance of building relationships with those around us.

The Hopeful Neighborhood Field Guide – This is a short read, but it has work and questions that come with it. The organization that puts out this book is in St. Louis. The field guide would make a great book club read in your neighborhood.

Discover Your Gifts – This is written by Don Everts, who lives here in Springfield. When you discover your gifts and the gifts of others, you can put those into action where you live.

Start With Hello – This book contains practical ideas for being a good neighbor. The author is an introvert, so the book has a practical application if you think that fits your personality.

Celebrating the Third Place – This is an update on the classic idea by Ray Oldenburg about Third Place gathering spots in our community and how important it is to have one.

The Connected Community – This is a new book by John McNight, the father of asset-based community development, and it applies to neighborhoods too.

The Simplest Way to Change the World –Dustin Willis’s book is all about hospitality. It turns out hospitality may not be what you think, but we could use more!

Better Together – This follow-up by Robert Putman to Bowling Alone, this book builds on this idea of social capital and how important that is to individuals and our community.

Reach Out, Gather In – This is a 40-day devotional book met to be read just a few pages at a time. Karen Ehman has included both study questions and recipes in this practical book.

"There are other books to consider," said Burton.

There is a reading list included on Burton's blog at Use the "neighboring resources" phrase in the search bar to find my extensive reading list.

"I keep getting asked if I have a neighboring book out. The answer is: not yet. I am currently working on two different books, and I hope that those will be available by next year on Amazon with some of my other books at," said Burton.

University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement that recognizes the importance of neighboring in community development. MU Extension is offering classes like "Neighboring 101" and "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" along with three annual neighboring events as a way to raise awareness and encourage others to focus on neighbors.

To learn more about our "Engaged Neighbor" program or the impact of neighboring, go online to or contact David Burton by email or telephone at (417) 881-8909. "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" can also be found on Facebook.


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