Mindful Reads with Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd and other children’s picks

The collage shows a photograph of the speaker accompanied by two of her books: B is for Breathe and Kindness Is Cool. On the right are a selection of the other books promoted in the blog post, surrounding the title "Mindful Reads: Children's Picks."

Meet the Author
Wednesday, May 31 | 6:30 – 7 pm
Miller Branch

Ticketed event; tickets available at children’s desk starting at 6:15.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Howard County Library System is excited to welcome children’s author Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd to our Miller Branch. A wife, mother of three, clinical psychologist, and officer in the United States Army, Dr. Boyd will read her picture book, B is for Breathe. She then will talk about how to use literature to help children with identifying and expressing their emotions, along with relaxation techniques, including deep breathing and guided imagery. Books available for purchase. More details can be found here

Each year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation releases the KIDS COUNT Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data analyzing how children and families are faring.1 In the most recent edition (released in 2022), the focus on youth mental health included a mix of pre-pandemic and current data, shedding light on the extraordinary mental health crisis facing not only Maryland’s children, but American children overall.2 One of the most startling figures revealed “an urgent need to address youth mental health, as 1 in 8 young people in Maryland deal with anxiety or depression.”3 

The topic of mental health may feel difficult to tackle, especially when thinking of how best to support children. Many people wonder where to begin. Luckily, HCLS offers resources to help. Our children’s collection features many books (in both print and electronic format) that cover the topics of emotions, mental health, mindfulness, and more. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started: 

A blue cloud background features a child with their arms wide, eyes closed, and smiling.

B is for Breathe by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd 

From A to Z, this book shares simple ways for children to express their emotions and practice mindfulness. It provides language for discussing feelings and teaches coping strategies to process frustrating emotions. 

Kindness is Cool by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd 

A new addition to our collection, this most recent book by Dr. Boyd shows examples of children practicing kindness in the world around them and teaches how simple acts of kindness make our world a better place. 

The Three Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath by Susan Verde 

“Once upon a time, there lived a wolf who lost his huff and puff.” For him, this was a big, big problem. One morning, he meets a yogi doing sun salutations. He really wants to huff and puff and blow her house down, but before he does so, the yogi suggests that he “meditate on that.” Similar things happen when he meets a second yogi, and a third, and, with their help, he learns ways to find his calming breath. A fun twist on a classic fairy tale, this story provides readers with breathing exercises they can use to regulate their emotions. 

The Don’t Worry Book by Todd Parr 

Everyone worries sometime; it is a part of life. This book teaches children that although there may be situations which are scary or overwhelming, there is always something that can comfort them. Todd Parr is known for his simple text and colorful illustrations that are both engaging and provide starting points for conversations on what can be difficult topics to discuss with young children. Other books with similar topics include, It’s Okay to Be Different, The Feelings Book, Be Who You Are, and many more. 

Puppy in My Head by Elise Gravel 

Ollie is a puppy, and sometimes runs around barking and jumping when he should be calm and quiet. The problem is, he is inside our narrator’s head, so when Ollie has these feelings, his person does too! How can our narrator teach Ollie to be calm? This story introduces children to techniques to calm their active minds when they may feel stressed or overwhelmed. The analogy of Ollie brings the concept of anxiety to a child level and teaches useful strategies for stressful, busy situations. 

Big Bright Feelings series by Tom Percival 

Looking for a kid-friendly introduction to social-emotional topics? This series of books by Tom Percival is a great place to start! Covering topics from loving yourself (Perfectly Norman) to dealing with worries (Ruby Finds a Worry) and managing anger (Ravi’s Roar), the books provide great opportunities for conversations about mental health, self-confidence, and managing feelings. 

Dealing with Feelings series by Courtney Carbone 

With titles like This Makes Me Happy, This Makes Me Scared, and This Makes Me Silly, the Dealing with Feelings series of early reader books brings the topics of feelings and emotions to a child-friendly level. Each story follows a different child as they experience a situation or event and learn to identify their emotions and coping strategies. The simple text and vivid illustrations help children learn to read, while giving names to what they may be feeling inside. 

Whether you visit one of our branches or check out resources online, we are here for you! Our staff can direct you to community resources available for you and your family and are happy to suggest titles to support you on your journey. We look forward to seeing you soon. 


1. Nonso Umunna, “Kids Count: Maryland’s Children Are Experiencing Higher Rates of Anxiety and Depression,” Maryland Center on Economic Policy, August 8, 2022, http://www.mdeconomy.org/kids-count-marylands-children-are-experiencing-higher-rates-of-anxiety-and-depression.

2. see note 1 above 

3. Schumitz, Kali, “New Maryland Data Show the Pandemic’s Toll on the Mental Health and Well-Being of Children and Families,” Maryland Center on Economic Policy, August 8, 2022, http://www.mdeconomy.org/new-maryland-data-show-the-pandemics-toll-on-the-mental-health-and-well-being-of-children-and-families

Sylvia is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys crafting, listening to audiobooks, naps, and walks with her dogs in 75 degree-ish weather.

National Library Week: Children’s Classes are Bookin’ Around the Community

Colorful poster that reads "Bookin' Around the Community: Children's Classes" and "There's More to the Story," with the More and Story letters made up of items you can borrow or use at a library.

by Sylvia H.

When you hear the word “library,” what do you picture? Many envision a building with books, computers, and spaces for community gathering. They are often pleasantly surprised to learn that libraries offer much, much more. 

In celebration of this year’s National Library Week theme, “There’s More to the Story,” I am excited to share some of the ways the children’s staff of the Miller Branch is serving our community beyond our walls.

Preschool visits 

You may be familiar with HCLS’ top-notch early learning classes, but did you know that we also take these classes “on-the-road?” Our children’s staff make visits to local preschool and prekindergarten programs (both public and private) within our community, collaborating with teaching staff to plan theme-related classes that incorporate engaging stories, finger plays, and songs. It’s always exciting to see our youngest customers outside the branch as students in their classrooms, some of whom we taught previously in our library classes. A perfect example of this is when a staff member reconnected with a young customer who came to Maryland with his mother as refugees from Ukraine last summer. How rewarding it was to see him learning in school, knowing that the library and his preschool have supported his family during their transition. 


This spring our children’s staff have provided enrichment activities at the Bridges after-school programs at Cradlerock Elementary and Stevens Forest Elementary Bridges, as part of our A+ Partnership with Howard County Public School System. From making salt dough, to exploring snap circuit boards and creating “Wiggle [ro]Bots,” students were able to engage in a variety of exciting and hands-on STEAM activities. They were also able to get a preview of some of the materials we have available for use in our children’s classes at the library! This has been an awesome way for students and school staff to connect with the library where they are and become acquainted (or reacquainted) with ways HCLS can support them. 

After-school events 

The library has long supported school-wide family events, such as math and reading nights, bedtime stories, and more. What a great way to engage with families and school staff to share library resources, classes, and events! Often, our prize wheel is the highlight of these visits; children love the opportunity to spin the wheel and share something they enjoy at the library and/or learn about what their library card can do for them. Did you know HCPSS students are automatically given an account with the library as part of our A+ Partnership? This account works as a traditional library account would, allowing students to use hcpss.me to access books, electronic resources, and other materials. 

Some upcoming events Miller children’s instructors are preparing for include but are not limited to: Manor Woods Elementary’s Multicultural Night, Waterloo’s Carnival, and Hollifield Station’s Blacktop Party. We cannot wait to join in on the fun! 


HCLS continues its work with Mother Goose on the Loose: Hatchlings, the FREE interactive early literacy program geared to expectant families and families with infants, complete with songs, fun activities, and freebies. What began as a pilot with the Maryland State Library continues to expand as we identify new partners within the community. 

The goal of Hatchlings is to familiarize families with the following concepts: 

  • Babies introduced early to books and reading become children who perform better in school.  
  • Reciting nursery rhymes and singing songs helps your baby get ready to learn to read.  
  • Reading and singing help with baby’s brain and language development.  
  • Best of all, the majority of this can be done within everyday routines and activities! 

Current partnerships include The Family Institute of Howard County’s Department of Community Resources and Services, Howard County General Hospital’s New Moms Support Group, The Judy Center, and more. Sessions are held at community partner locations, as well as in branch. The collaboration between HCLS and these organizations has increased caregivers’ knowledge of general county resources available to their families – many of which they are surprised to discover are free – as well as children’s library classes and items available for borrowing (e.g., our educational toy collection). 

As the program grows, we are beginning to see an overlap in participants who have attended other events and have happened to make their way to Hatchlings. Some caregivers are astonished to learn that the library is coordinating the sessions outside of the branch, and the concept has changed their understanding of where library activity takes place.

So, as you can see, the library is more than just a building! HCLS models regularly the importance and benefits of bringing the library to the community, and how such partnerships leverage the great work we do.

Sylvia is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys crafting, listening to audiobooks, naps, and walks with her dogs in 75 degree-ish weather.