Fresh & Healthy

A big pile of bell peppers in all shades, centered on a yellow one.
Weekly farmers’ market at HCLS Miller Branch.

The library isn’t just providing good food for thought through books, movies, and other materials – it also can help you make good choices in staying healthy with cookbooks, nutrition guides, and classes.

The Farmers’ Markets are open again! You can shop for locally grown herbs and flowers, fresh produce, meats, and other food and drink. Operated by Howard County Economic Development Authority, there are several throughout the county, including at HCLS East Columbia Branch on Thursdays from 12-6 pm and HCLS Miller Branch on Wednesdays from 2-6 pm.

Join us in June for a wide variety of classes related to health and wellness:

Fight Stress Before It Gets to You
For adults. Register here.
In our modern lives, our bodies and minds are subject to many stresses. When we support our bodies before we are challenged, we can prevent certain negative health impacts. Nutrition Specialist Courtney Carpenter focuses on diet and lifestyle choices, including supplements.
Thu, Jun 1 at 7 – 8:30 pm
Central Branch

Addressing Menopause Naturally
For adults. Register here.
Menopause can be a challenging time in a woman’s life. Nutrition Specialist Courtney Carpenter discusses menopause, including recent developments in our understanding of hormones. In addition, learn how fine-tuning one’s diet and taking advantage of both foods and natural products can make this transition more manageable.
Thu, Jun 8 at 7 – 8:30 pm
Central Branch

Edible Landscaping with the Community Ecology Institute (CEI)
For adults. Register here.
Are you interested in incorporating edible plants into your existing landscape, but don’t know where to start? Discover plants that you can easily add to a large or small landscape or to containers. Gain a better understanding of edible plants and the knowledge you need to get you started. Feel free to bring photos to the Q & A with staff from the CEI Nourishing Gardens program.
Visit the Freetown Farm display during June in the Miller Branch lobby.
In partnership with the Community Ecology Institute.
Sat, Jun 10 at 10:30 am – 12 pm
Miller Branch

Fry, Fry Baby: Air Fryer Tips and Tricks
For adults. Register here.
Learn how to boost your produce intake, reduce your saturated fat intake, and keep your taste buds happy. Presented by Melanie Berdyck, Giant Food Nutritionist.
Thu, Jun 22 at 2 – 3 pm
Elkridge Branch

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,

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,

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.

Recipe Exchange: Asian American Chefs and Asian American Cuisine

A colorful main dish is surrounded by smaller metal bowls of whole spices.

by Sahana C.

Come talk food with us!
Wednesday, May 24 at 7 pm | Savage Branch
Register here.

In Asian American households, food is a love language. Sliced fruit, set gently next to a workspace, is an invitation to take a break, or an apology. Homecomings are ushered in by welcome feasts, and almost every restaurant occasion ends with a polite battle over the bill. Food is affection, and especially in immigrant households, it is a connection to family, to a far-away home, and it is a consistent way of showing (but not telling) love.

Growing up with my Bengali mother, rainy days off meant khichdi (a mix of rice, lentils, and vegetables) and aloo bhaja (thinly sliced fried potatoes) for lunch. My brother and I would scrap over the last few aloo bhaja in the bowl, before our mother would smile indulgently and take a few from her plate to split between us. I’d sit in the kitchen as my mother cooked big, elaborate, multi-course meals, watch her season and spice, and wait for the oil to sputter specifically, never once consulting a recipe. She would have one of her aunts on speakerphone, talking about family back home and interjecting with quick questions on what to substitute to make our American ingredients taste as close as possible to the Indian ones.

I grew to appreciate food, to understand cooking, and to have a standard repertoire of recipes after learning from my mother. It was a common language we shared, this mutual culinary interest. And it’s only grown. I cook with and for friends, I follow cooking blogs and sites and social media accounts, I favorite every restaurant I pass by with an interesting-looking menu, and most of all, I like to talk about food with people. On desk at the library, I’ll see someone flipping through a cookbook I’ve read, and I’ll want to stop and talk. I’ll notice someone looking at a book written by one of my favorite food personalities, and I can’t help but smile at it. And most of all, I love when people share their recipes with me, when I can hear about the food, the stories, and the cuisines that influence them.

It’s important, also, to know about innovators. To know about the people who are pushing the cuisine, who are changing it, who are going back to the roots of a tradition or practice to better understand it. There are so many Asian American chefs who are pushing the envelope on what elevated Asian American cuisine looks like, and there are just as many Asian American chefs who are looking to create the most traditional experience they can with their food. All of that is what makes the cuisine not just Asian, but Asian American. It’s the blend of respect for culture and tradition, and the simultaneous push to the modern that makes Asian American food so unique.

To celebrate all of the above, we’re having a Recipe Exchange on Wednesday, May 24, from 7-8 pm at the Savage Branch. It’s themed around Asian American chefs and Asian American cuisine, where we’ll look at a few highlighted chefs and some of their most popular recipes. I’d love for you to join us and bring a recipe of your own to share. We’ll discuss our favorite tips, tricks, and techniques in community, and do it all the way food was meant to be enjoyed – together.

Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. They enjoy adding books to their “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for them already.


A photograph of a woman and three children in traditional Korean clothing is superimposed over a backdrop of Korean buildings on a narrow, descending street against a blue skyline.

By Peter N.

On October 9, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan, joined by First Lady Yumi Hogan, Republic of Korea Ambassador to the United States Lee Soo-hyuck, and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, officially opened Korean Way in Ellicott City. A five-mile stretch of Route 40 in Ellicott City, Korean Way is home to more than 160 Korean-American owned-businesses that offer everything in the way of authentic Korean cuisine, goods, services, and more. 

We are privileged to celebrate the contributions of one of Ellicott City’s largest demographics, and we continue this celebration on Sunday, May 21 from 2 – 4 pm with Global Neighbors: Republic of Korea. 

Highlighting the culture, contributions, and accomplishments of the citizens of the Republic of Korea as well as Korean Americans, this exciting day includes performances of the Korean harp, drum, and traditional fan dance. Other performances showcase taekwondo as well as a K-Pop dance with local high school students. Create some Korea-inspired crafts, while supplies last.

A woman and two children stand in front of the Miller library, wearing colorful, traditional Korean clothing.

Special thanks to our cultural ambassador, Saea Oh!

For more information on Ellicott City’s Korean Way, visit Maryland’s Korean Way.

To register for Global Neighbors: Republic of Korea, visit our classes and events calendar.

Peter is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and is furiously working on learning Korean through Duolingo. That owl is VERY intimidating.

Author Event: The Nocturnals

The black cover sports a silhouetted treeline and the eyes and upright ears of a fox, drawn in watercolors.

By Eliana H.

If you’ve ever taken an evening walk, you might have noticed signs of some animals that are active at night. Maybe you’ve heard an owl call or seen a bat winging its way through the sky. We call those animals nocturnal, and lots of fascinating nocturnal animals live in our neighborhoods and parks. You can learn more about some of them along with the process of writing a book from Tracey Hecht at our Author Works event on Wednesday, May 17, at 7:30 pm at the Elkridge Branch.

Author Tracey Hecht has written a critically-acclaimed children’s book series called The Nocturnals about a group of unlikely friends who are all animals active at night. Dawn, a serious fox; Tobin, a sweet pangolin; and Bismark, a pint-sized sugar glider, head off on fun-filled adventures in this middle-grade series, starting with The Mysterious Abductions. Early Reader books such as The Moonlight Meeting and The Slithery Shakedown introduce younger readers to these friends while presenting themes that encourage kindness, empathy, and bravery.

Participate on Wednesday evening in an interactive workshop to learn more about the animal science that inspired the books. You can also explore developing characters, creating author voice, and learning how books are made. Visit the children’s desk at HCLS Elkridge Branch before the workshop to collect a mask craft you can make that also reminds you what time the event begins. When you come to hear Tracey speak, you receive a bookmark, and if you’re lucky, you might win a plush fox or a Nocturnals activity book. The workshop is best for children ages 5 to 12 years. Books available for purchase and signing. 

About the Author

Tracey Hecht has written, directed, and produced for film. The American Booksellers Association chose The Mysterious Abductions—the first book in her critically acclaimed middle-grade series The Nocturnals—as a Kids’ Indie Next List pick. With the New York Public Library, she created a Read Aloud Writing Program that has since been used in more than 200 schools, libraries, and bookstores. When she isn’t writing, she can be found hiking, reading, or spending time with her family. Tracey currently splits her time between New York City and Oquossoc, Maine, with her husband and four children.

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Mental Health Awareness Month: 988 and Suicide Prevention

The photograph shows lettered tiles in black and white spelling out the words "Mental Health Matters" against the background of a black and silver quartz countertop.

By Laura Torres

Have you or someone you know and love ever experienced symptoms of depression resulting in contemplating ending your/their life? Chances are you, or someone you know, has had these thoughts and experienced feelings of hopelessness and overwhelming sadness.

Suicide and attempted suicide are widespread in this country. Suicide was the twelfth leading cause of overall death in the United States in 2020, claiming the lives of more than 45,900 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among 10 to 14 year olds and 25 to 34 year olds, and the fourth leading cause for people between the ages of 35 and 44 (NIH).

In 2020 alone, the US had one death by suicide every 11 minutes. Despite the prevalence, suicide is a topic that most people feel uncomfortable talking about; one that, unfortunately, carries a great deal of stigma. Those suffering in silence often do not reach out for and receive the help they need, when they need it. A person struggling with thoughts and feelings of suicide is in a deeply painful and dark place, often not knowing how or where to turn for assistance and relief.

The image lists Howard County and surrounding jurisdictions (Baltimore City and County, Carroll County) and reads "Looking for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline? You can now reach us at 988. Call 988. We're here to help." in white letters against a purple background. "988" is highlighted in orange.

In July of 2022, to provide a resource – indeed, a lifeline – for those struggling, the federal government mandated that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline change its ten digits to a new, 3-digit number: 988. Making this change has increased awareness, providing more equitable and accessible crisis services to people across the country. The 988 helpline is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365 for anyone experiencing mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis.

Trained mental health counselors are available through landlines, cell services, and voice-over-internet devices for conversations on the phone or through texts and chats. The counselors are available to listen to each caller, assess their level of need, identify whether they are in a crisis state, and provide them with the connections and resources to help. 988 is a helpline for everyone, of any age, anywhere in the US, regardless of their situation and circumstances.

It is sometimes difficult to know who is suffering or how to help those struggling with overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and/or any number of other stressors and emotional challenges. For this reason, it is important and necessary for everyone in our communities to share the 988 resource with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues – everyone in our social circles. No one is alone in their struggle. Help is here.

In partnership with Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, HCLS Miller Branch is offering QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Suicide Prevention Training Monday, May 15 at 6:30 pm. Some key components of QPR training include:

  • How to help someone who is considering suicide
  • The common causes of suicidal behavior
  • The warning signs of suicide
  • How to get help for someone in a suicide crisis

Register here for this training, specifically designed for people who do not have experience in suicide intervention.

In light of HCLS’ community partnership with Howard County General Hospital, Chapter Chats is pleased to have Laura Torres, LCSW-C, as a guest blogger today. Laura is the Behavioral Health Program Manager with the Population Health Department at Howard County General Hospital.

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Several children stand around a library instructor, everyone strumming a ukulele.
Ukulele series Play, Practice & Perform, HCLS Savage Branch.

by Sahana C.

This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrate the incredible diversity and cultural influence of folks under the AAPI umbrella. AAPI culture has become more prominent recently, though it has long been an integral part of our community and our county. Going from K-Pop to Bollywood, from Vietnamese cuisine, Thai food, and Chinese staples, to things like ukuleles and tattooing that hail from the Pacific Islands, there are traces of and homages to AAPI influence across society. Howard County Library System has a World Language Collection, and while the specific materials may differ between branches, we have DVDs, books, and other materials in a wide variety of languages, including Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Hindi, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese, to name a few.

I grew up listening to Bollywood and watching Bollywood movies that we would bring home from the library. Having the World Language Collection as a staple within the library has always been incredibly significant to me. It’s a tangible connection to my culture. I try always to recommend that folks looking for new and different movies give Bollywood a try, and the expanse of our World Language selection makes that possible.

This spring we have a wealth of classes to highlight AAPI authors, traditions, art, food, and culture. We’ll jam out at Savage Branch using ukuleles (that can be requested and borrowed!) with Savage Ukes. We’ll create origami flowers and learn about the history of kusudama, participate in Anime Clubs at Savage and Miller branches to talk about our favorite anime and manga, and read books like Interior Chinatown together (with the Reading Human Rights book discussion group) so that we can discuss in community.

We would love to see you at the branches, attending any of our events. Discover more on our classes and events calendar.

Asian Cuisine Made Easy!
For adults. Register here.
Thu Huynh, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Health Living Team at Giant Food, presents seven top tips on how to incorporate Asian cuisine and lifestyle into your life.
Wed, May 3 | 7 – 8 pm

Nonfiction Addiction
For adults. Register here for the in-person session and here for the online/hybrid session.
Explore the genre of nonfiction.
In May: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.
Thu, May 18 | 7 – 8 pm
East Columbia Branch

Glenwood Goes to Hawaii
Ages 0-5. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 mins before class starts.
Shake off winter blues and go Hawaiian as we catch a wave. Enjoy tropical music, games, and stories under palm trees on beach blankets. Tropical attire encouraged.
Fri, May 19 | 10:30 – 11:15 am   
Glenwood Branch

High Tide in Hawaii: A Magic Tree House Special
Ages 6-10. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 mins before class starts.
Join Jack & Annie in the Magic Tree House as they escape high tide in Hawaii. Enjoy games, music, and a craft under palm trees and sunny skies. Tropical attire encouraged. Catch a wave!
Fri, May 19 | 2 – 3 pm     
Glenwood Branch

National Museum of Asian Art
All ages.
Investigate scenes and objects of daily life in works of art across Asia to discover what people in the past valued and how they celebrated through food and rituals. Through the objects you examine, compare daily life in the past to today.
Fri, May 19 | 2 – 3 pm
Elkridge Branch

Global Neighbors – Republic of Korea
All ages.
Experience the culture and contributions of one of the largest demographics in our community. Enjoy a presentation and celebration showcasing traditional Korean music, Taekwondo, Korean Fan Dance, K-Pop dance demonstration, and Korean origami and calligraphy. Celebrate the diversity of our community!
Sun, May 21 | 2 – 4 pm
Miller Branch

Craft Pop-up Shop: AAPI Heritage Month Edition
Ages 4 and up. Allow 15 minutes. Drop in.
Pop in and make a craft inspired by AAPI Heritage Month.
Tue, May 23 | 5:30 – 7 pm
Miller Branch

Recipe Exchange: Asians Chefs and Asian American Cuisine
For adults.
Learn about Asian chefs and the history of Asian American cuisine. Meet other foodies to learn new recipes or share some your favorites.
Wed, May 24 | 7 – 8 pm
Savage Branch

Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. They enjoy adding books to their “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for them already.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The picture shows three heads in silhouette in blue and white, with a beating pink heart in the lower left corner against a blue background. The words "Mental Health Awareness Month May 2023" are written in the upper left corner in white.

By Kimberly J.

In 2013, I was living overseas as a military spouse and was struggling with my mental health. Desperate for help, I did a quick internet search to find the number for the Mental Health Services on base. The first question asked was, “Are you active duty?” When I replied that I was not, the response I got was, “Then we can’t help you.” Hearing those words was devastating to my despairing mind and I felt defeated in that moment. The person on the other end then asked, “Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts or do you feel that you might harm yourself or others?” My reply was, “If I was, I’d be in trouble, since you just said you can’t help me!” I made it past the lies that depression was telling me and the very insensitive message that I received that day. I have been traveling a road of healing for the last 10 years. Some days are hard, but I now know that there is help.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to begin by saying three things:

1. You are not alone.

2. Help is always available.

3. You (and your mental health) matter.

You Are Not Alone

Almost everyone knows someone with a mental illness. Understanding the prevalence of mental health conditions is important in destigmatizing it. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness. In the United States, one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Almost half of adults in the US will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. The three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Life can be challenging, but every day shouldn’t feel out of control. Take time to ask yourself about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern that may be caused by a mental health condition. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Have things that used to feel easy started feeling difficult?
  • Does the idea of doing daily tasks like making your bed now feel really, really hard?
  • Have you lost interest in activities and hobbies you used to enjoy?
  • Do you feel irritated, possibly to the point of lashing out at people you care about?

If your answers to the any of the above are yes, start a conversation with your primary care provider, a trusted friend, or a family member about your mental health. Please note: A mental health provider (such as a doctor or a therapist) can give you a full assessment and talk to you about options for how to feel better.

Help is Always Available – Free Community Resources

  • 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – offers free 24/7 call, text, and chat ( access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use, mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Just text or call 988 nationwide. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. While text and chat are available in English only, calling services are in English and Spanish and use Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages.
  • 211 Maryland is the state’s most comprehensive health and human services resource database. With more than 7,500 resources, individuals with essential needs can get connected to local help 24/7/365.
    • 211, Press 1 is an immediate, always-on-call suicide prevention, substance use intervention, and mental health emergency assistance line available in the state of Maryland. Dial 211 and Press 1. 211 specialists are also available to chat or text. For text services, text your ZIP code to 898-211.
    • 211 Health Check – provides proactive mental health check-ins to support those with anxiety, stress, and depression. The weekly connections provide one-on-one support with the goal of preventing suicide and other mental health emergencies. If requested, the 211 specialist can connect the caller with mental health resources. To sign up for weekly mental health checks, text MDMindHealth to 898-211.
    • MD Young Minds is a new resource for teens and adolescents who are struggling with their mental health. It sends supportive text messages, with a focus on teen and adolescent concerns and worries. To sign up, teens should text MDYoungMinds to 898-211. The ongoing messages also remind youth that immediate mental health support is always available through 211, Press 1.
  • Local Mental Health resources are available through the Howard County Health Department by visiting this website.

You (and your mental health) Matter

Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

No matter your age or stage in life, you and your mental health are important. If you’re looking for resources to help make self-care part of your routine, the library can help get you started.

The Little Book of Rest: 100 Ways to Relax and Restore Your Mind, Body, and Soul by Stephanie Thomas is a book that can help you formulate your own actionable self-care plan. Everyone is unique, so make a self-care routine that works for YOU. This book is divided into four sections, with plenty of ideas for each category: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual exercises to give yourself time and space to focus on wellness.

In The Self-Healing Mind, Dr. Gregory Brown advocates for a holistic approach to mental health treatment. Dr. Brown supports integrating conventional treatments (medication and talk therapy) with lifestyle changes that he calls the pillars of self-care: breathing mindfully, sleep, spirituality, nutrition, and movement.

Mindful Moments for Kids is an audio CD that is broken down into one-minute “mind breaks” – including guided meditations, relaxing music, nature sounds, and breathing exercises. Using these moments can help calm, focus, and inspire mental health as an everyday practice.

As a form of self-care, you can also try out meditation with some beginner’s meditation classes on HCLS’ YouTube Channel. There are three meditation sessions available:

Finally, HCLS Miller Branch is offering Suicide Prevention Training on Monday, May 15 at 6:30 pm, in partnership with Grassroots Crisis Prevention Center. Register here (starting Monday, May 8) for this training, which will show you how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and is designed for people who do not have experience in suicide intervention.

These are just a few of the resources and opportunities available at Howard County Library System.

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide,
tell someone who can help right away.
Call 911 for emergency services.
Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.

Para ayuda en español, llame al 988.

Sources:,,, National Institute of Mental Health

Kimberly J is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Glenwood Branch. She enjoys reading, photography, creating, crafting, and baking.

National Library Week: Battle of the Books

Lighted sign with a yellow star and a sweeping directional arrow which reads "Battle of the Books."
Howard County Library System and the Howard County Public School System are excited to bring you the 2023 Battle of the Books at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

National Library Week is drawing to a close for this year, but there’s still so much to celebrate. Tonight, more than 300 teams of fifth graders compete in Battle of the Books at Merriweather Post Pavilion (rain or shine)!

These are the titles that students have read and become experts about:

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

The Last Last-Day-Of-Summer by Lamar Giles

The Science of Breakable Things by Tai Keller

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed

Science Comics, Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate by M. K. Reed

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Stargazing by Jen Wang

Battle of the Books is an energetic competition between fifth graders who form teams and then “battle” to win through quizzes based on 12 books. They must know the books, inside and out. Last year, I served as a Battle of the Books judge, and I was overwhelmed by the energy! The kids’ enthusiasm for this event can’t be overstated, and it’s something special to witness. This year, a record number of teams registered, and I know it’s going to be another amazing event.

I am lucky enough to have a mother who passed on her love of reading to me and my sister. The library was a sacred place for me when I was growing up. I would often borrow 10 or more books at a time. Fast forward to today: if you walk into my house right now, you’ll find stacks of books in almost every room. Planting the seeds early in my life led to lifelong curiosity and a thirst for learning. For me, reading is an exploration and an adventure I go on almost every single day. It’s an honor for me to serve on the Friends Board. Join me and support Battle of the Books by becoming a Friend of the Library. You’ll be making a difference that lasts a lifetime.

Wendy Slaughter, Friends & Foundation of HCLS Board Member

If you’d like to join the Friends and support the Library, you can give a donation right now and receive a beautiful basket of flowers as a thank you. Friends supports Battle of the Books by purchasing sets of books for all teams.

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 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.