Equity Resource Center – Children’s and Teen Collections 

Wide view of the upstairs at Central Branch of Howard County Library System, where the Equity Resource Center is housed.

by Ash B.

Enrich your summer with entertainment and educational materials from the Equity Resource Collection!

The Equity Resource Collection (ERC) launched in October 2021 in response to growing community demand for materials related to racial equity, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the increase in mainstream attention to #BlackLivesMatter and systemic racism. 

The special collection was created along with the Equity Resource Center, a 700 square foot space located on the second floor of the Central Branch, directly behind the public access computers. An intentional space for learning, healing, and discussing issues, the Center also provides room for thoughtful exhibits (such as Undesign the Redline). This area houses thousands of new ERC materials, including movies, documentaries, and music CDs, as well as fiction and nonfiction books and audiobooks.  

While HCLS works hard to maintain a diverse, balanced general collection, the ERC is specifically focused on centering equity, diversity, and inclusive representation, including but not limited to race/ethnicity and racism, immigration, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. By concentrating these titles in a specific place, the ERC serves as a resource if you are interested in books on one of these topics but aren’t sure where to start. I find this particularly beneficial when browsing the children’s ERC and all the nonfiction ERC shelves.

Some titles in the ERC are duplicated in our general collection, particularly popular titles, whereas other titles exclusively belong to the Equity Resource Collection. However, all ERC titles can be requested for pickup at any HCLS branch – which we highly encourage!

If you visit the Central Branch, you might notice three “Equity Resource Center” areas, with materials located in the children’s and teen area in addition to the upstairs section. All ERC DVDs, however, are located in the main Equity Resource Center along with the adult materials, including family-friendly movies like Moana.

Children’s 

Located on the main floor behind and around the research desk, the children’s ERC contains chapter books, picture books, and nonfiction books for a variety of ages and interests.

The collection provides exceptional “mirrors, window, and sliding glass doors” for young readers – allowing youth to discover books about and by people who look like them, as well as to learn about people who may be different from them. Some of these titles are clearly informational in nature – defining terminology, explaining concepts, and narrating history. These range from textbook-like materials for tweens to picture books for the earliest of readers! 

A pastel background shows four young folx, with the two on either side holding plants that fountain with all sorts of flowers and artistry. One person is sitting in a wheelchair with a ukulele.

One example of the latter is It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, written by Theresa Thorn and illustrated by Noah Grigni. This gorgeously illustrated book shows examples of gender identity – boy, girl, both, neither – in a way that is nuanced but extremely clear for children (and adults!) to understand. It is simple without being oversimplified, which is an excellent achievement! If you’ve ever wondered “how do I explain gender to a child?” – or if you are new to learning about trans and nonbinary gender identities – then this book is for you! 

The Equity Resource Collection also includes children’s books that aren’t necessarily educational in the didactic sense but are still rich sources of learning, with stories about a wide variety of experiences, identities, and cultures. This is the window and doors part of what I was talking about earlier.

A young girl with dark hair and brown skin sits on a suitcase between a house in the a tropical seeting and an urban environment, with a plane overhead.

One of my favorite recent reads is Home Is In Between written by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Lavanya Naidu. In this picture book, a young Indian girl moves to the U.S. with her parents, while their extended family remains in India. Vibrant and heart-warming, Home Is In Between tenderly depicts the immigrant experience by conveying the excitement of new things and the challenges of feeling ‘in between’ two cultures. The illustrations are gorgeous, too!

Teen 

Also located on the main floor, you will find the Teen ERC in the far right corner, with organization similar to the children’s area. Some teen and adult graphic novels reside on the top left shelf, followed by novels and short story anthologies, then fiction audiobooks, and finally, nonfiction. 

Compilation of: You Should See Me In a Crown that features a young Black girl with natural hair and a tiara drawn on top; Cemetery Boys with two young men standing back-to-back with a mysterious figure in front of a full moon; and We Are Not Free with sketched carachters sitting on a pile of luggage and boxes.

Some of these novels center the high school experience, such as the award-winning You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, which follows a poor, queer, Midwestern Black girl’s pursuit of prom queen-dom, in the hope of earning a scholarship. The recipient of a Black-Eyed Susan award, Stonewall Book honor, and one of TIME’s best 100 YA books of all time, this title has earned high praise – it’s a sweet, joyous read that evokes the spirit of great teen movies. 

Other titles delve into cultural practices, such as Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, which brings together traditions from various Latinx cultures in a supernatural, urban fantasy setting – along with a gay rom-com storyline for a trans male protagonist. With its humor, heart, mystery-adventure, and magic, this is one of my personal favorite books (also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook from Libby/OverDrive)!

Fantastic historical fiction novels also address legacies of injustice, such as the incarceration of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, as depicted in We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. The granddaughter of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned as teenagers at that time, Chee felt personally invested in bringing attention to this oft-neglected history. With many moments inspired by the stories of her relatives, this is an incredibly powerful story about fear, hope and resilience. 

Compilation of: The Burning which features yellow flame motif and red lettering; The Stonewall Riots which features illustrated crowd and rainbow sky; A Disability History of the United States which features seven photographs of people with physical ailments; Trouble Maker for Justice features a young Bayard Rustin against a faded photo of a protest; Protest features Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad in her fencing gear; Rolling Warrior features the illustration of a white woman in a wheelchair holding a sign that says Rights Now!

Of course, there are also excellent nonfiction titles to help you learn about history. Some delve into specific events, such as The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 (Young Readers’ edition) by Tim Madigan and Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman. Other titles use a broader lens to approach the history of marginalized people, such as A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen. There’s also important history to be learned in biographies and memoirs of icons of the past and present, from the Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin, to Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, to disability rights activist Judith Heumann. 

For aspiring activists, there are books that can serve as guides as well as stories of youth who are speaking out and affecting change today. Kids on the March by Michael G. Long talks about youth protests from the 1903 March of the Mill Children to the recent movements of Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the Climate Strike. 

There is so much to discover and learn within the Equity Resource Collection! We highly encourage you to come visit if you can… and stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about the other areas of the collection! 

Ash is an Instructor & Research Specialist at Central Branch and is a co-facilitator for Reads of Acceptance, HCLS’ first LGBTQ-focused book club. Their favorite place to read is spread out on a blanket under the shade of the tree.

Quick Peek at Silly Summer Stories

A bright yellow cover pictures a dark blue octopus wearing a red stocking cap, holding an upside down rabbit, a girl, a waffle, and a guitar. Lots of bubbles float around.

By Monae R.

Whenever I need something fun, silly, easy to read, mindless, or just cute to read or take my mind off of adulting, I go straight to the children’s department. Here are some silly summer reading favorites that are worthwhile selections at any time of year for adults and children alike.

Also an Octopus is a heartwarming reminder that the simplest things make you amazing. The story explains that every story starts with nothing and that is perfectly fine. Creativity will help you fill the nothingness. Another imagination-stimulating book is Field Trip to the Ocean Deep, which immediately gives me Magic School Bus vibes. It follows the story of a group of students who go to the deep ocean to see the creatures and surroundings, only to have one student left behind. The student makes friends and is able to show the rest of the class some very distinctive photos when he is rescued. This story is unique as it is told without any words. You must create the words and story to accompany the images.  

Some stories are not so goofy, but instead focus on curiosity and learning. Seaside Stroll and What the World Could Make take an innocent view of the world. Seaside Stroll follows a girl and her mother on a walk along a snowy beach. With the story evolving with every word starting with ‘S’, even in the title, a child not only learns the sound the letter makes, but learns some strong vocabulary as well. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and even some interjections are thrown onto every page of this book. Education and beautiful art collide in these stories. Two friends explore the world and appreciate its beauty and wonder over the seasons in What the World Could Make, a warm and filling story about hope and the gifts of the world. 

The blue paper of the cover is apparently being consumed by a cute purple monster with green spikes and fuzzy eyebrows.

Stories like those above are wonderful, but goofy and silly is not bad either. Stories like Dino-Gro and The Book of Rules can teach a lesson and still be super silly. I have used The Book of Rules in children’s classes multiple times for the genuine laughs it brings out of people, adults and children alike. The story encompasses eleven rules to follow if you don’t want to be eaten by a monster. Children can follow along with the story doing goofy tasks until they reach the last rule for a surprise. Dino-gro, about a tiny new dinosaur toy that grows in water until it no longer fits in the house, feels like it could be a short snippet from a chapter book. I would certainly read this fiction story if it existed. 

These are a just few of my favorite picture books, some of which you will find on this summer’s Kindergarten through First Grade Summer Reading List.

Monae is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS East Columbia Branch.

Spring Arrives with Children’s Books

The cover depicts three little white kittens looking up at the cherry blossoms above as well as the title, superimposed in yellow script against a blue sky. A bumblebee flies above them and a robin perches in an overhead branch.

By Eliana H.

Spring has sprung! Or has it? As Kevin Henkes says in When Spring Comes, “It changes its mind a lot.” But whether you’re certain spring is here to stay or want to get in the mood to welcome it when it is, we have books for you. Here is a collection of books to share with young children focusing on themes of spring, especially growth and change. For more recommendations, visit your local branch and ask a member of our staff. We will be happy to help!

The book cover depicts a man and a girl in the foreground, on a green grassy hill, with a white house with a brown roof, trees with yellow-green foliage, and geese in formation in the sky in the background.

Birdsong by Julie Flett

First Nations author, illustrator, and artist Julie Flett brings her tender story to life with soft, striking illustrations in this beautiful book. It begins in spring, when a young girl is moving with her mother away from their home by the sea to a new house in the country. As the seasons pass, she grows used to her new home and gets to know her elderly neighbor, with whom she connects over their mutual love of art and nature. As spring returns, the young girl finds ways to comfort her ailing neighbor and realizes that she truly sees this new house as home now.

The book cover is a photograph of yellow and white flowers against a hazy background of gold and green foliage. The title is superimposed in white over the photograph.

Bloom Boom! by April Pulley Sayre

Seeing all the different flowers bloom is many people’s favorite part of spring. This volume showcases large photographs of a variety of blossoms in all different habitats accompanied by simple, rhyming text. The end includes notes about blooms in diverse ecosystems as well as details about the specific plants (and sometimes animals) on each page.

The book cover depicts a child in red rubber boots and a yellow rain jacket splashing in a puddle as raindrops fall and land on the ground.

Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

What do you like to do on a very rainy day? Simple text and acrylic paintings bring readers along with an unnamed child in this book, as rain pours down and different activity options are explored. Share this with little ones and start a discussion about favorite things to do in different kinds of weather.

The cover depicts an older woman in a lavender traditional Japanese kimono, seated on the ground with a young girl in yellow pants, white top, and rose sweater. A branch with cherry blossoms hangs above them, with the title in rose-colored script.

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi

Sakura, named for the cherry blossoms she loves enjoying with her grandmother, has to move to America with her parents and leave all that she knew behind. Told in a series of tanka poems, a traditional Japanese poetry form similar to haiku but with two additional lines, this story follows Sakura as she becomes accustomed to her new life. Along the way, Sakura finds new friends and unexpected joys in this place so different from her former home.

The cover depicts a white rabbit against a background of green hills, with a budding sunflower to the left and a sunflower in full bloom to the right. The larger flower has a ladybug on one of the leaves.

What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani

Spring is a time when many of us become especially aware of the life cycles around us, as we can witness much of the change and growth happening. In this book, bright illustrations with friendly creatures accompany short, descriptive text on each page, which includes the title question followed by the answer. Some pages fold out, down, or up to show a larger plant, and notes at the end offer simple instructions for planting different kinds of seeds, along with an overview of the life cycle from seed to plant.

The book cover illustrates two children caught in the wind, one clutching a red cap and one covering ears with hands, as the wind blows leaves around them.

Wind by Carol Thompson (also available in a Spanish edition, Viento)

Blustery days are a sure sign of spring’s arrival. This simple board book uses line drawings with lots of movement to show young children experiencing wind. The sensory experience of a windy day is highlighted with a range of descriptive words, ending with the final quiet as the wind dies down. Other titles in the series explore different types of weather with Rain, Snow, and Sun (available in Spanish as Lluvia, Nieve, and Sol).

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).

Loving Stories in Picture Books

By Eliana H. 

During this time of year, we are bombarded by messages trying to convince us to buy things for “that special someone.” Flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and more. Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day, but I hope we all have people we love. Research shows that a loving bond with a caregiver helps young children thrive. Share these picture books about love with your little one, or any other stories you like, to help develop that bond. For more tips from The Basics about maximizing love and managing stress, visit https://thebasics.org/brain-boosts/maximize-love-manage-stress/

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (ages 5-11) 

The cover depicts a barefoot child in a blue top and pants with a pink jacket, and blue and pink hair, with arms outstretched in front of a heart that is comprised of gold stars.

With simple words and watercolor illustrations, this book gently invites readers to think about how they can show love. The author and illustrator work seamlessly together to show how we can support ourselves and each other with specific, concrete loving actions. Heart-opening yoga poses and a heart meditation accompany the author’s note at the end of this title.  

I Love Us!: A Book About Family by Theodore Henry, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (ages 0-3) 

The cover shows a variety of different multicultural families interacting while doing various activities - running through the rain under an umbrella, playing with a dog, drawing, making music, and eating.

A wonderful read to share with your youngest loved ones, I Love Us! shows various families participating in loving activities together. After you read, talk about the things you love about your family and what it does. A mirror at the end lets you and your little one imagine yourselves in the story! But if you want to complete the family tree activity on the final page, please do it on a separate page and not in a library copy of the book. 

Love the World by Todd Parr (ages 2-6) 

The book cover, in bright pink with yellow, blue, and green lettering, depicts the Earth with a heart superimposed for the "O" in "World," and anothe heart in the center of the "O" in "Love." Two children in brightly colored outfits are shown leaning into the frame from either side of the title with their hands outstretched, and a brown and white dog with a red collar pops up at the bottom. Small red and yellow hearts are scattered across the cover.

If you’ve ever read a Todd Parr book before, you will immediately recognize his unique style. With brightly colored illustrations and simple, rhyming text, Parr invites readers to love activities that support the community and specific parts of themselves. Throughout the book, in full-page spreads, we are reminded to “Love yourself. Love the world!” Invite your little one to talk about all the things they love after reading this volume. 

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera (ages 4-8) 

The cover shows a girl and her mama playing peek-a-boo, both wearing shades of pink. The little girl is "peeking" out from behind her hands with a little grin on her face, but the mama's eyes are completely covered although she, too, is smiling.

This quiet, beautiful book celebrates the special bond between a little girl and her mama. As she says on the first page, the little girl wants, “to be everywhere Mama is.” She shows readers things that are hers and her mama’s before bringing us along on a walk in the rain. As day ends and she falls asleep, the little girl remembers parts of the day, especially “me and Mama.” 

When a Grandpa Says “I Love You” by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell (ages 3-7) 

The cover depicts two anthropomorphized bears; the grandpa bear wears blue checked pajamas and square glasses, and the baby bear is in pale red pajamas, holding a flashlight. The two look as though they are in a tent and the grandpa is making shadow puppets. There is a wooden chair to the right of the frame, holding up the tent.

Many grandfathers don’t say “I love you” in words, although some certainly do. Even those that aren’t saying it out loud display their love for grandchildren through their actions. A wide range of animal pairs show grandfather-grandchild relationships in the illustrations of this book, all participating in a variety of activities that demonstrate loving feelings they share. Follow a reading with a discussion of the ways that we can show love to a special person. 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (ages 4-7) 

The cover depicts Aidan in a rainbow-colored coat and yellow pants, on the shoulders of his Dad and being kissed by his pregnant mom, who is wearing a white dress. A white cat looks up at them from next to Aidan's mom, and there are flower blossoms and petals floating across the cover.

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. It took some time, but Aidan’s family all adjusted to make sure his life fit who he is. Now Aidan’s mom is expecting a baby, and Aidan knows that being a big brother is an important job. He helps his parents get things ready for his new sibling, but he also worries that he won’t be a good big brother. Thankfully, Aidan’s parents remind him that loving someone is the most important part of that job. 

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).

Wintry & Wonderful Picture Books

A simple illustration of a snowy hill with a bare tree, at the bottom a child and parent walk

by Eliana H.

I hope you have enjoyed our recent snow days and have stayed safe and warm. If there wasn’t enough snow for you, perhaps these titles will fill the gap. If you’d rather stay away from winter weather, curling up inside with a book is a great option for staying warm. Enjoy a sampling of some wintry and wonderful picture books to share with your family this season. If you’re looking for more options or hoping to find some cozy titles for more mature audiences, visit or call any of our branches and speak to a staff member. We will be happy to help you find the right title for you! 

Making a Friend by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Alison Friend (ages 3-6) 

Despite his best efforts, Beaver has a hard time making friends. When the snow falls, it presents him with an opportunity to make a different kind of friend. Will Beaver be able to keep his friend when the snow melts? Use this story as a conversation starter with little ones about how to interact with peers and build friendships. 

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr (ages 2-7) 

“When you go owling, you don’t need words.” In this strikingly illustrated, Caldecott-winning classic tale, a little girl goes out into a quiet, snowy night with her father to search for owls. The poetic story shows the bond between parent and child, and the special experiences that can strengthen it. It also demonstrates a connection to nature that deserves to be maintained.  

Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James & Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman (ages 3-7) 

Expert storytelling father and son team James and Joseph Bruchac composed this retelling of a traditional Iroquois story, where readers meet a rabbit who looks different than what we are used to today. Young readers may be able to relate to Rabbit’s impatience, as he chants “I want it, I want it, I want it right now!” Although Rabbit gets what he wants, regardless of the needs of the other animals, the consequences help him learn to be more patient, and perhaps some readers will take the lesson to heart as well.  

Snow Much Fun!  by Nancy Siscoe, illustrated by Sabina Gibson (ages 4-7) 

Three friends are excited to enjoy a snow day! They each enjoy different activities, but they are willing to try something outside their comfort zone for their friends. The friends support each other in any struggles, and they find new joys as they explore. Photos of intricate textile and paper creations bring a whimsical, unique feel to this simple, rhyming tale. 

Thankful by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill (ages 4-8) 

What are YOU thankful for? In this endearing book, a young child shares her family’s practice of making paper chains out of things they are thankful for. The narrator shares many things she is thankful for, throughout the year and in all different situations. As you enjoy the fun, detailed pictures of paper creations in the book, perhaps your family will be inspired to talk about where you find gratitude.  

You’re Snug with Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (ages 4-7) 

This book pairs ornately patterned illustrations with a mother polar bear’s reassurances to her two new cubs as they are born and begin to learn about the world around them. In the text, the author uses the mama bear to teach readers about the beauty and wonder of our polar lands. When her new cubs worry, she assures them each time, “You’re snug with me,” all the while gently encouraging readers to be good stewards of the earth. 

In shades of gold, blue and grey, snowflakes and bears composed of complicated patterns frame the title.

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).

Spooky & Seasonal Picture Books

The photograph depicts a variety of pumpkin - white and green, yellow. and shades of orange - surrounding one large orange pumpkin decorated like a jack-o-lantern, with red cheeks, three white teeth, eyes with red and yellow irises, and a pointy witch's hat in red and orange, decorated with black cats and orange moons. All are resting on a tablecloth in black and white with a motif of bats, jack-o-lanterns, and the word "Halloween" repeating.
Photo by Bee Felten-Leidel on Unsplash.

By Eliana H. 

As the weather turns crisp and we start preparing for fall holidays, you might be looking for books to get little ones into a spooky mood. Our staff have selected some picture books to share with the family this season. Whether you are looking for thrilling tales, heartwarming narratives, or sillier stories, there is something for you. 

The cover of "Creepy Carrots!" shows a startled rabbit in the foreground, dressed in a collared shirt and striped pants. In the background are three carrots, two with angry expressions, one of them literally "blowing his top" as his head and eyes have separated from his body; the third carrot has a surprised expression. All are against a background of clouds, standing on a hill with grass and small plants growing. The illustration is in shades of white, brown, and orange.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds (ages 4-8) 

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots, especially the ones from Crackenhopper Field. His love turns to fear once he swears he starts to see the carrots following him everywhere! Are the carrots really following him, or is Jasper just imagining it? Read this clever tale to find out. 

The cover of "What's in the Witch's Kitchen?" shows the title in yellow, rose, gree, and red lettering against the backdrop of a spooky house in black silhouette, with a witch on a broom silhouetted against the moon above, bats flying around the chimney, and a spider dangling off the rain gutters. A lizard in silhouette is climbing up the side of the house, and a black cat peers out from the window beneath a hanging lamp. The subtitle, "A book with MAGIC changing pictures!," is written on the purple door in beige and white print.

What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen by Nick Sharratt (ages 3-7) 

Find out what this witch has brewing in her kitchen in this fun, interactive tale. Choose to flip the flap left or right and see what you find! Will it be a nasty trick, or a delicious treat?

The cover of "Fright Club" shows various classic monsters, including Frankenstein, Dracula, a ghost, a mummy, and a werewolf, peering out from a hinged wooden window that is propped open. A spider dangles from the title and peers down at the group.

 Fright Club by Ethan Long (ages 3-6) 

Each year, on the eve of Halloween, Fright Club meets to go over their plans for scaring kids on the biggest day of the year for scares. Only the scariest monsters are allowed in Fright Club, but this year, a group of adorable critters want to join. Vladimir, the leader of the club, refuses to let them join, but these cute little critters can be scarier than they look. 

The cover of "El Cucuy is Scared, Too!" depicts the title character, El Cucuy, hiding in a yellow pot with a green cactus growing from it. The other main character, Ramón, is patting El Cucuy on the back in a comforting manner. Both are on a colorful woven rug with stripes in shades of red, yellow, and light blue. The title is in the same colors and is surrounded by foliage and flowers in shades of green, red, orange, and pink.

El Cucuy Is Scared Too by Donna Barba Higuera (ages 4-8) 

Ramón and his family recently moved, and he is scared about his first day at his new school. When he talks to El Cucuy, the Mexican Boogeyman used to scare children into good behavior, El Cucuy shares his own fears and worries. With Spanish interspersed through this heartfelt picture book, Ramón and El Cucuy build each other up and remind each other of how strong and brave each of them is.

The cover of The Dark shows a small child dressed in blue, looking through an open door down a set of brown wooden stairs into a basement. The child looks apprehensive and only the first three stairs and part of the stair railing are illuminated; the rest of the basement is in the dark.

 The Dark by Lemony Snicket (ages 4-8) 

One night, Laszlo’s night light – which has always kept the dark at bay – goes out. Laszlo is afraid of the dark, which lives mostly in the basement, and tonight it invites Laszlo down the stairs. The tension builds in this beautifully-illustrated book, but in the end, the dark only wants to help. 

The cover of "Sir Simon: Super Scarer" shows a cute ghost seated at a desk, with a green printer's visor on his head and a typewriter, pile of papers, coffee cup, and pizza and a cookie on the desk. The setup resembles a journalist's desk although the desk itself is a brown trunk that latches. The figure holds up a sheet of paper from the typewriter that says "Super Scarer."

Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson (ages 4-8) – also available as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive

After haunting other things, including a forest, a bus stop, and a potato, Sir Simon is finally being transferred to his first haunted house! Expecting only old people, Simon is surprised to discover a kid has moved in with his grandma. As Simon and Chester try to help each other with their chores, they discover they’re better at being friends together than trying to take the place of the other. Plenty of fun details will have adults laughing along with the story as well. 

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist 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).

Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month with #ELKReads

By Elkridge Branch Staff

For the past 50 years, June has been celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The celebrations began with the first Pride march in New York City, on June 28, 1970. That date celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a six-day period of unrest, sparked by a police raid of a gay bar. Though not an uncommon occurrence, this particular raid did not go as planned and led the queer community to fight back against the targeting and tactics being used against them. As queer communities around the world continue to seek recognition, respect, and equal rights, we invite you to explore the books suggested below – and on our social media – for all ages. You can also learn more about the history of Pride Month on the Library of Congress website.

For Little Kids:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Little Kids" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover of And Tango Makes Three shows two penguin parents huddling with their chick. The cover of Pride Colors shows a toddler in striped shirt, jeans, and fisherman's sandals, standing next to a table with rainbow-colored legs. The cover of Love Makes a Family shows a variety of families of different genders, races, and ages, with rainbows, hearts, doves, and arrows among the symbols in the turquoise background. The cover of They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! has the title lettered in stylized fonts with geometric patterns in shades of turquoise, green, and yellow. The cover or Prince & Knight shows the prince surrounded by young maidens all giving him attention, while he gazes with head turned toward the knight, who leans against his horse and waves at the prince. The cover of My Rainbow shows a transgender girl wearing a rainbow-colored wig of leaves and flowers against a yellow background.

Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

This book celebrates the thing that all families have in common, which is love. All types of families are represented in this book. Families are shown engaging in happy activities together.

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack

In this beautifully illustrated modern LGBTQ+ fairy tale, a Prince Charming and a Knight in Shining Armor find true love in each other. The young men are celebrated as heroes for saving the kingdom from a dragon together, and their love is affirmed and embraced with a royal wedding in a delightful happily-ever-after. Be sure to also check out Daniel Haack’s Maiden & Princess

Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson

Celebrate Pride Month with your little one by enjoying this photographic concept book filled with the colors of the Pride flag. Artist & activist Gilbert Baker created the original Pride flag and each color in the flag has a special meaning, so be sure to turn to the end of the book to find out what each one represents!

For Big Kids:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Big Kids" and has a collage of six book covers. Better Nate than Ever shows the title character leaping into the air in front of a stylized New York City skyline which includes the Statue of Liberty, with the name "Nate" lit up with light bulbs resembling a theatre marquee. Be Amazing shows a character in drag, posing with hand on hip and one arm in the air as if on a catwalk, wearing a dress and hat in gold, orange, and black, with a blurry rainbow-colored background resembling butterfly wings. The cover of Witch Boy shows the purple silhouette of a dragon looking over the title character, who is reading by candlelight against a pink background. The cover of Queer Heroes depicts famous queer celebrities and artists, including Freddie Mercury, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The cover of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World shows the backs of two girls as they face a whirlwind rising up to the sky with words in cursive, presumably the contents of Ivy's letter, swirling within. The cover of Rick shows the title character with his back to the reader, wearing a grey shirt and a lavender backpack covered in stickers, including an alien, a spaceship, a smiley face, and a rainbow. The title is in rainbow letters against a white background.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (also available as an audiobook on CD,  an ebook and eaudiobook on Libby/OverDrive, and an eaudiobook on CloudLibrary)

Nate Foster has always dreamed of starring in a Broadway show, but he worries about how he’ll ever reach his dream while living in a small town in Pennsylvania. With the help of his best friend, Libby, Nate plans a daring escape to New York City when he hears of an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical. Nate knows this could be his big break, and he won’t let this chance at stardom slip away.

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Aster’s family is magic: boys grow up to be shapeshifters, and girls grow up to be witches. But at age 13, Aster still hasn’t shifted, and he is captivated by the witchery that his family members who are girls get to learn. This beautiful graphic novel follows Aster as he makes a new friend, works to protect his family from a mysterious threat, and finds the courage to be true to himself.

Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ+ Heroes from Past & Present! by Arabelle Sicardi 

From the heartfelt introduction by the author to the inclusive glossary at the end, this diverse collection of biographical snapshots is a great starting place to learn about real-life LGBTQ+ heroes from around the world. Vibrantly colorful portraits illustrate the incredible life stories and contributions of LGBTQ+ artists, athletes, inventors, activists, and more.

For Teens:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Teens" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover of When the Moon Was Ours shows the two main characters, Sam and Miel, silhouetted against the dark backdrop of a starlit water tower, with arms outstretched towards one another, and one climbing a ladder as if on a stage. The cover of The Best at It shows the main character in glasses and sports gear, with arm outstretched, against a teal background with scattered books, calculator, camera, football, pencil, triangle, photographs, and other school-related items scattered about. The cover of Cemetery Boys shows two boys back-to-back, one wearing a collared shirt and one wearing a hoodie, in front of a ghostly skeleton figure in red robes and a flowered crown silhouetted by the full moon. The cover of Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens shows the title extending from the top to the bottom of the book, in rainbow letters, with the subtitle in smaller white letters across the middle from left to right, all against a black background. The cover of The Great American Whatever has the title and author's name in black and red letters against a white theatre marquee background, The last "a" in "American" is missing and the first "E" in "Whatever" is crooked, as is the "D" in the author's last name (Federle). The final "E" in his name is substituted with the mathematical epsilon symbol. The cover of I'll Give You the Sun has the title in dark teal lettering with dashes radiating out from the center in rainbow colors.

Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

This comprehensive guide supports teens who are – or think they might be – queer, as they navigate everything from coming out to standing up for their rights. Background about queer figures throughout history and personal stories from the authors’ lives are interspersed with guidance throughout. While the information included is general enough to cover a broad range of topics within the single volume, a list of resources can direct readers to more details about specific areas of interest.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Miel and Sam live in a small town where magic isn’t so out of the ordinary. But when the Bonner Girls decide they want the roses that grow from Miel’s wrist, and they threaten to tell the secret they know about Sam to get her to cooperate, Miel has to face her past and try to find the path forward. The lush, evocative language in this novel brings a lyrical beauty to this story of friendship, family, love, magic, and finding your true self.

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (also available in ebook and eaudiobook format on Libby/OverDrive)

Rahul Kapoor is an Indian American boy just entering seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. To help soothe his worries, his grandfather gives Rahul the advice to find one thing he does well and become the BEST at it! As Rahul searches for the special thing he can be the best at, he also confronts his anxieties and finds that he can count on his friends and family for the support he needs.

For Adults:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Adults" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover for Lot: Stories shows a silver fire hydrant emitting a rainbow of colored water against a white background, with the title in stark black lettering. The cover of Cantoras shows a setting on the shore, with a blue sky and ocean, and white waves crashing against a rocky beach. The cover for Untamed has the title in white lettering against a background of swirly colors: pink, red, turquoise, blue, and glittery silver and gold. The cover for Written in the Stars shows two women, one blonde and one with long red hair, embracing in front of a silhouetted cityscape and sky in shades of blue, lit up by white stars and constellations. The cover of Good Boy shows a brown retriever with a pink collar, seated against a white background, with the title in rainbow colors beneath his feet. The cover of Fun Home shows a pen and ink drawing of one adult and three children, framed as if in a traditional portrait, with a teal background.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

“Sometimes, when things were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family.” As you might guess, Alison Bechdel had a fraught relationship with her father, a high school English teacher who ran their small town’s funeral home out of their Victorian-era home that he restored himself. During college, when Alison came out as a lesbian, she learned that her own father was a closeted gay man, but his death soon after left her searching for answers that he could not provide. Check out this critically-acclaimed graphic memoir that has also been adapted into a Tony-award-winning musical!

Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan (also available in large print format and as an ebook and eaudiobook from Libby/OverDrive)

In a 2017 New York Times opinion column on rescue animals, Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote: “When you lose a dog, you not only lose the animal that has been your friend, you also lose a connection to the person you have been.” Here Boylan uses the memories of her beloved dogs to reconnect with, or at least fondly remember the many people she has been- a son, a father, a mother, a wife. Good Boy is at once a deeply personal reflection on Boylan’s unique journey as a trans woman and a celebration of the changes in identity we all experience as we grow up and grow older and the animals who we love along the way.

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington (also available as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive)

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington affords readers a front row seat to several aspects of life in a Houston, Texas neighborhood. The burdens and exhilarations of family dynamics, race, sexuality, economics, friendships, and societal influence all feature prominently in short stories connected through common characters.

The Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center opened the doors of its new building in March 2018. Our staff are always happy to help you with your questions about books, tools, technology, and more!

Spring is for Gardening

The cover depicts a garden of flowers, vines, and strawberries in bright primary and secondary colors, with birds, a butterfly, a frog, a ladybug, and a bee enjoying the vegetation.

By Laci R.

Spring is here once again – and you know what that means? It’s the perfect time to share these wonderful gardening books with the children in your life. Gardening is a passion of mine for many reasons. It’s become a reliable place of peace and comfort, I get to see a variety of pollinator friends, and I have a permanent seat in a never-ending classroom. I like to encourage others not only to find a way to connect to nature but to look into all the methods and styles of gardening. My garden started with two or three potted plants. Over the past couple of years, my container deck garden has transformed into a whimsical fairytale oasis.

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen
This story reminds us that our imagination can bring just as much wonder into our lives as anything we experience in the physical world. Join this adorable grandfather and granddaughter as they bring life into the most beautiful imaginary garden. As they paint- brick walls are built for vining plants to climb, crocuses are popping up as the first sight of Spring, and a robin eats a worm for lunch. Later, the granddaughter is left to care for the garden while her grandfather is away on vacation, and she’s determined to make him proud. Imaginary or not, gardens require hard work and a whole lot of love.

Pair With: My Garden by Kevin Henkes (also available as an audiobook on CD)
This book reminds me of Alice in Wonderland as she sits amongst the flowers and describes her perfect world. While the flowers in this book won’t talk with you for hours, they do change colors just by thinking about it. Join an imaginative little girl as she tells you all about her dream garden – including a jellybean bush, invisible carrots, and glowing lantern strawberries.

A Peaceful Garden by Lucy London
Join these two feline friends as they prepare, plant, and tend to their peaceful garden. This book is a great introduction to the joys of gardening through a simple yet sweet story that walks you through what the process might look like to get ready for your own garden. Throughout, you’ll see garden dwellers making an appearance, some that a lot of people try to deter from their space. This peaceful garden is all about making sure everyone knows they’re welcome and cared for. What will you grow in your peaceful garden?

The cover depicts a rooftop garden with a diverse group of people working to plant in the soil. The cityscape is in the background against a sky of oranges and yellows.



Thank You, Garden by Liz Scanlon
The illustrations show a diverse community of children and neighbors working together on a city garden. Through rhyme, you learn about what goes into making a garden so lovely – including the times that call for being silly and playing in water from the hose. This book does a great job of showing the rewards of hard work. While the text isn’t abundant in this story, the artwork tells you more than words ever could.

Pair with: Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam
This wordless picture book utilizes mixed media in a dreamy way that will certainly spark a fulfilling discussion. It’s Winter, and Fox is looking for a safe and cozy place to have her pups after being chased out of a village. She comes across a greenhouse and nestles in. Soon, Fox and her pups are greeted by a young boy who gently places a basket of food on the ground before leaving them be. Fox and her pups repay the favor with a beautiful “thank you” waiting to be found in the boy’s bedroom when he wakes the next morning.

The cover depicts a boy and a black cat in a dense garden of flowers and tropical plants, in shades of blue, green, yellow, and mauve.


Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano
Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings. Skyscrapers and highways hold the space where hills and trees used to be. Tokyo is determined to help his grandfather have a garden despite the city “eating up the land” years ago. He meets an old woman who gifts him three beans that will become whatever is imagined of them during planting time. What happens next is a beautiful and fast-paced adventure showing how nature behaves in a city. Animals replace cars on the roads and streets become rivers. Will city life and wildlife be able to co-exist? This book is a thoughtful portrait of environmentalism and imagination. At first, this story might seem familiar – beans that you can wish on. I promise you’re in for a treat with this modern story that feels classic.

Florette by Anna Walker
Mae moves to a new home in the city and is forced to leave her beloved garden behind. Once there, Mae starts to realize just how empty this new house feels without a garden to play in and butterflies to chase. She tries to recreate the wonder by drawing and painting flowers on the stacks of boxes filling every room. Realizing she has to search a bit further, Mae sets out on an adventure and finds a lush green botanical shop… but it’s closed. She waits, but the door never opens. In the distance, there’s a small green sprout in a crack between the building and sidewalk where Mae rescues her very own piece of the forest. Is there room for a garden in the city, after all?

Gardening for Beginners by Emily Bone
Learning any new skill can be intimidating at first. This book is an excellent resource for any age and especially perfect for developing a new skill alongside the children in your life. I learned a great deal from this book when I first started gardening and was overwhelmed by information. This book has an easy-to-follow page design, and there is also a breakdown of how to interpret each section of the page in the beginning of the book. The visual appeal of this book makes the information more digestible and easier to retain.

Pair with: Flowers by Gail Gibbons
Gail Gibbons is a favorite for a reason. This book is no exception for anyone interested in learning about flowers. It covers the basics of flower parts, growth, seed travel, pollination, and the various ways flowers are categorized.

I hope this assortment of gardening books brings some green, inspiration, and curiosity into your home.  Gardening is for everyone and doesn’t have one look or motivating factor. I challenge you to grow something this year – whether it’s your family’s favorite tomato or melon, flowers for our pollinator friends, or your imagination.

Laci is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS. They love a wide variety of music, spending time in the garden, Halloween, cats, and crafting. Their “to read” list is always full of graphic novels and picture books.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with #ELKReads

By HCLS Elkridge Branch staff

Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States. March 8 has been honored as International Women’s Day since 1911, with nations around the world celebrating the movement toward women’s rights. This annual celebration gives us the opportunity to honor women past and present who have paved the way for continued progress for all. This includes trailblazers in politics, arts, sports, science, and more. Look back at those who have come before and be inspired to soar to new heights with these reads for all ages about amazing women. 

For Little Ones: 

The collage has the descriptors "Women's History Month" and "Picks for Little Kids." The book cover for Mae Among the Stars" depicts the title character in a space helmet with a starry background sky. The book cover of "The Girl Who Thought in Pictures" is a cartoon drawing of Dr. Temple Grandin, with thought bubbles depicting her thoughts about animals, rockets, and scientific concepts. The book cover for "Think Big, Little One" depicts three women role models: architect Zaha Hadid, artist Frida Kahlo, and musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The book cover of "Like a Girl" depicts the faces of three girls, and famous women participating in a collage of activities beneath them. The book cover of "Dreamers" depicts a mother and baby in a colorful natural environment, with teal and pink flowers and a bright orange monarch butterfly. The book cover of "Good Job, Athena" depicts the goddess Athena as a young child, with her hair in pigtails and an orange bow around the waist of her blue outfit.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julie Finley Mosca – also available as an ebook through Libby/OverDrive

Little ones will love the delightful pictures and rhyming verse in this true American shero story. Diagnosed with autism as a girl, Temple Grandin embraced her unique way of thinking to help her invent revolutionary new ways to take better care of farm animals. A special note from Temple Grandin to readers is also included, along with a timeline and fun facts. 

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington 

Join your little one in reading this picture book inspired by the real-life story of Dr. Mae Jemison. Mae starts off with a dream to see the earth and later becomes the first African American woman in space. Burrington’s illustrations bring this story to life and will inspire your little one to reach for the stars! 

Like a Girl by Lori Degman, illustrated by Mara Penny

In this beautifully illustrated tribute to girl power, readers are introduced to 24 women who blazed trails in their respective fields. The author highlights all the wonderful things you can do “like a girl” and invites her audience to think about the ways they can change the world. More details about each subject are included in the back of the book.

For Big Kids: 

The collage has the descriptors, "Women's History Month" and "Picks for Big Kids." The book cover of Coraline depicts the title character against a dark Gothic background, with ghostly figures in pale grey reaching out for her. The book cover of "Hooray for Women!" depicts a cartoon parade of women in different costumes, contemporary and historical, with eight famous women depicted in boxes around the perimeter of the center picture: The book cover of "Not One Damsel in Distress" depicts two women fighting off dragons and a wild boar with a sword and bow and arrow. The book cover of "The Mighty Miss Malone" depicts the title character in a tan shirt looking over her shoulder. The book cover of "The Eagle Huntress" depicts the title character with a tethered eagle mounted on her arm. The book cover of "Herstory" depicts a group of women role models in a colorful collage.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman – also available as an ebook and an eaudiobook through Libby/OverDrive, as an ebook through CloudLibrary, as a book on CD, and in a graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell

Coraline, a curious and adventurous young girl, moves into a new flat with her parents. While exploring her new home, she discovers a door to another world where she finds another mother and another father who want her to stay and be their daughter forever. At first, Coraline thinks this world is better than her own, but she soon realizes things are not as they seem in this other world and something terrible lurks behind its perfect facade. 

Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore and Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls by Jane Yolen

Forget about a princess needing a knight (or anyone else) to save her. These collections of folk tales from a wide range of countries showcase smart, strong, brave women. Learn about heroes who overcame harsh conditions, rescued their people, and fought for what was right as you explore cultures from around the world. The first title is an updated version of the second, with two additional stories.

The Eagle Huntress: The True Story of the Girl Who Soared Beyond Expectations by Aĭsholpan Nurgaĭvyn  – also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive

At 13 years old, Aĭsholpan Nurgaĭvyn became the first woman – and youngest person – to ever win Mongolia’s famous Golden Eagle Festival. In her inspiring memoir that will resonate especially with tweens and young teens, Aĭsholpan takes pride in sharing about her legendary Kazakh heritage, while also challenging traditional gender customs to train and compete with her beloved eagles. To learn more about Aĭsholpan’s amazing experiences, you can also check out the award-winning subtitled Kazakh-language documentary of her story – available on DVD.

For Teens: 

The collage has the descriptors "Women's History Month" and "Picks for Teens." The cover of "Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word" shows a clenched fist with red fingernail polish on the thumb. The cover of "Make Trouble" depicts diverse female faces against a pastel backdrop. The cover of "Votes for Women!" depicts a suffragette holding a copy of "Women's Journal and Suffrage News." The cover of Lumberjanes depicts a group of teens standing in front of a summer camp cabin, with animal trophies above their heads. The cover of Ms. Marvel depicts the title character, wearing a black shirt emblazoned with her lightning bolt logo, and a colorful scarf. The cover of Golden Compass depicts the compass itself against a teal sky and snowy ground, with a polar bear running with a rider astride his shoulders.

Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word by Nadia Higgins

The word feminism makes some uncomfortable, and many people define it in different ways. This book introduces readers to pioneers of feminism in the United States along with modern leaders who continue to fight to empower women in every arena. Explore what feminism is and what it means to you as you read the range of ideas and perspectives presented in Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead (Young Readers Edition) by Cecile Richards with Lauren Peterson, adapted by Ruby Shamir –  also available as an ebook on OverDrive 

Cecile Richards grew up in Texas, where her parents, one of whom was the first woman governor of the state, taught her the importance of working for change, including making trouble. This young reader’s edition of her biography shares the lessons Richards learned along the way and highlights the people who have supported her in her journey. Read Make Trouble to feel inspired to push for progress and empowered to fight for what is important to you. 

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling – also available as an “always available” eaudiobook from Libby/Overdrive

Last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote in the United States. The fight to reach that goal encompassed decades of passionate work, including marches, protests, and even lawbreaking, on the part of many women working together. Votes for Women! provides a glimpse into the lives and experiences of many suffragists, including the uglier moments in the battle for women’s right to vote. 

For Adults: 

The collage descriptors are "Women's History Month" and "Picks for Adults." The cover of "She Caused a Riot has pink script on a yellow background. The cover of "The Left Hand of Darkness" depicts a lunar-like surface with two opposite-facing profiles carved out of rock, against a dark sky. The cover of "Difficult Women" has a stylized pink heart against a black background. The cover of "That's What She Said" has the title in black against a white background, surrounded by a gold vine. The cover of "We Should All Be Feminists" has three half-circles each at the top and the bottom, half-black and half-white, against an orange background. The cover of "Dear Ijeawele" has a dark purple silhouette of a woman with dark purple paint slashes against a paler lavender background, with the lettering in mauve.

She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It by Hannah Jewell – also available as an eaudiobook on Libby/OverDrive

In a witty, conversational, and occasionally sarcastic tone, Hannah Jewell explores the extraordinary lives of 100 women throughout history from all over the world. Sorted into chapters like Wonderful Ancient Weirdos, Women Who Wrote Dangerous Things, and Women Who Punched Nazis, the stories of these women range from triumphant to tragic, but never fail to inspire, and Jewell’s humor and enthusiasm for her subjects never fails to entertain. 

That’s What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women by Kimothy Joy

That’s What She Said offers a brief introduction to over thirty influential women from various areas of life – some well-known and some women with whom readers may not be familiar.  Author and artist Kimothy Joy’s beautiful watercolor illustrations add to the enjoyment of this informational book. This is a great place to start for an overview of women’s history, or to find women or subjects that inspire deeper investigation. 

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin  – also available as an ebook, an eaudiobook, and an eaudiobook dramatization from the BBC on Libby/OverDrive

Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic The Left Hand of Darkness is a book about political intrigue and a forced epic journey across an icy planet (probably the fodder for a good miniseries). The book has the drama and action of an arduous journey as well as a personal journey of the protagonist to appreciate those different from him through the relationship he builds. The protagonist, an envoy from another planet, struggles to understand a gender-neutral people using the social constructs of his own culture. 

If you want to explore more exhibits and offerings in honor of Women’s History Month, take a look at the Library of Congress’s Women’s History Month page.

The Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center opened the doors of its new building in March 2018. All our staff wish that we could see you in person, but we are happy to help you discover new reads while we are apart.

The Solace of Children’s Picture Books on Death and Grieving

A collage of eight books. All Around Us depicts a woman's face, eyes closed, with a rainbow in the background. One Wave at a Time depicts a child with a sad expression on a beach with waves crashing in the background. A Map into the World shows a girl crouching to draw a house on the sidewalk. The Rabbit Listened shows a toddler clutching a toy rabbit. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney depicts a family of four looking out over a lake in the sunshine. Cry, Heart, But Never Break depicts the figure of Death having tea with a child who appears to be asking a question or imploring, with her hand on his arm. The Goodbye Book shows a fish in a bowl with a sad expression, and a picture of another fish, presumably a deceased friend, in a thought bubble over its head. Something Very Sad Happened shows a mother and child walking in the woods, with leaves falling all around. The child is clutching a robot toy.

by Emily T.

Sometimes there are just no words.  

For families talking with children about death and grieving, the words we want can be especially hard to find. But we are not alone. Heartfelt picture books are one of my favorite sources of solace. In aiming to speak clearly to children, the best ones are both simple and profound. They can help us open doors to deeply meaningful conversations. When we invite a child to read these stories together, we offer a special comfort.  

Fred Rogers described it this way:  

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” 

Maybe a child is grieving the death of a pet, friend, or family member. Maybe they are struggling to understand the tragedy of the current pandemic. Even if death is not on the doorstep right now, the following books can help a child understand what death means, the emotions that can come with it, and how they can process it all with someone they trust.  

Read through these books before inviting your child to share them. See how they suit you and if they are appropriate for your child’s age and experience. Don’t be afraid to change up the stories to personalize them to your child’s circumstances. Or, simply look through the pictures while your child tells a story or talks about their own experience. Sometimes a child just needs someone to listen. 

Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide to Understanding Death by Bonnie Zucker 

Simple, direct language tells this story for the littlest ones. Notes to parents and caregivers are included to help guide the reading. (Ages 2-4) 

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld 

A tumbled tower of blocks represents loss in this sweet story of a grieving child searching for comfort. (Ages 3+) 

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr  

A grieving goldfish demonstrates the various physical and emotional ways we might process the death of someone special to us. (Ages 3+) 

One Wave at a Time: A Story About Grief and Healing by Holly Thompson 

Poignant and beautiful, a young boy describes the waves of many different feelings he experiences after his father dies. (Ages 4+) 

The book cover depicts a grandfather and grandchild holding hands and walking outdoors in a colorful scene, with a tiger, peacock, kite, and assorted flowers in yellow, blue, and orange tones.

Grandpa’s Stories by Joseph Coelho 

When her beloved grandfather dies, a young girl’s cherished memories of all their seasons together help her grieve and honor their forever bond. (Ages 4+) 

A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang  

When a child wishes to comfort a grieving neighbor, her own grieving process comes to include creative and supportive expressions of condolences and connection. (Ages 5+) 

All Around Us by Xelena González  

A young girl and her grandfather honor the many circles of life they see, placing birth and death in a bigger picture of nature’s cycles and family traditions. (Ages 5+) 

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst 

Through a backyard funeral ceremony for his cat, a young boy finds comfort in memories and the circle of life. Questions of the afterlife are raised and left open. (Ages 5+) 

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved 

Death itself takes the personified form of a compassionate cloaked visitor in this gentle story of four siblings coming to terms with their grandmother’s imminent death. (Ages 5+) 

For further support for your child, please be sure to reach out to your child’s physician, school, religious or spiritual community, or a mental health professional.  

Additional resources 

Sesame Street in Communities | Helping Kids Grieve

The Dougy Center: The National Grief Center for Children & Families 

National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) – GriefTalk Resource Guides (Birth – High School) 

Actividades del NAGC – Respondiendo al Cambio & Pérdida (Español) 

Emily is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She enjoys reading, knitting, and sunshine on her shoulders.