By Jessica “JP” Protasio

Last summer, just a few days before my 27th birthday, I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma. Believe me, cancer was nowhere on my birthday wish list. The diagnosis came after the sequential deaths of my parents and two years of enigmatic bouts of illness. I had no family in the area and was newly diagnosed. What did I do? Research.

I scoured the Cancer Information Collection at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System, hoping to find anything on this rare and elusive cancer. I dove into the online medical databases, skimming medical journals and magazines, collecting all the information I could. Unfortunately, I still gave in and made the mistake of using an Internet search engine to find more material. Thatís when I became overwhelmed and truly frightened. I needed help.

I spoke with a friend who had just learned about a local organization dedicated to helping young people diagnosed with cancer: The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF). Through their partnerships with local and national cancer support organizations, UCF connected me to people and resources that would help me through this crisis. They even had a patient navigator waiting for me at the hospital where I was getting treatment. She acted as my advocate and helped decipher what the doctors were saying. UCF helped me get organized.

Finding help and accepting help are very different things. I pushed my pride aside and let the people in my life support me in the ways they wanted. Co-workers coordinated a rotating calendar of meals, visits, and transportation while I was in treatment and recovering. Another friend took on the task of being my second set of eyes and ears at doctor visits. UCF staffers and other friends offered guidance in financial, legal, and medical assistance. Team Fight members kept me active and encouraged. My brother, who lives in Oregon, created a webpage to chronicle my journey and connect friends from around the world. They networked and showed me that I wasn’t alone. They became my family.

Living with cancer and recovering from various treatments is terribly challenging. I hope that the books, events, and resources I share with you in my posts will aid in your fight against cancer or help you to better assist the people in your life who are cancer warriors. I offer no medical advice, just a personal account of the resources that have helped me in my journey.

I have cancer and I’m a survivor. I lost my liver to this disease, but not my life. I celebrated my three-month, post-transplant anniversary last week by leading the Survivor Walk, sharing my survivor story at “Screw Cancer, Brew Hope,” and participating in Survivor Harbor 7‘s four-mile race. I cannot express the elation I felt running across the finish line. The funny thing is, the real race has only just begun.

JP is a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of the Howard County Library System. She is a Pajama Time storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, and a cancer survivor.

read more

Howard County pediatrician, Wendell McKay, warns against energy & sports drinks

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent a strongly worded message to parents this month saying children should not drink sports drinks, and energy drinks are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should never be consumed.

Sports drinks are flavored beverages like Gatorade and PowerAde while “energy” drinks such as Monster, Jolt, or Redbull additionally include some sort of stimulant, most commonly caffeine.

Dr. Wendell McKay, a Howard County pediatrician who treats many young athletes has been preaching this message to all of his patients for the last several years.

“Regarding energy drinks, my message has always included the story of Steve Bechler [the Baltimore Oriole baseball pitcher] who suffered a fatal heart attack during practice from taking the stimulant ephedra.” McKay says. “The amount of caffeine listed on the label is unreliable as energy drinks often include natural stimulants that, according to the FDA, don’t have to be calculated. Caffeine and stimulants just make your heart beat faster and increase your blood pressure. It may make you feel hyped up and energized but I tell young athletes it doesn’t help their muscles and because of that, they perform less well.”

Even sports drinks are not harmless.

Kids should drink water

Water and milk are the drinks of choice.

“Not too long ago the thinking on sports drinks was that it would encourage hydration but now the perspective has swung the other way as kids began to drink these drinks at home. Water and milk are the drinks of choice.

Kids are too easily grabbing a Gatorade for dinner and there is so much unnecessary sugar in their diets already. And, in addition to the unneeded calories, it’s bad for your teeth, as well” says, McKay.

Packaging and marketing of these sports drinks is partially to blame. McKay points to the brightly colored drinks and the super star promoters like Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan and Abby Wambach who make kids believe these drinks are essential performance enhancers.

What about the athlete in training? Visit the Rockburn or HCYP ballfields, or any local gym and you’ll see recycling bins overflowing with empty sports drink containers. Dr. McKay concurs with the AAP that sports drinks for athletes are also generally unnecessary. An athlete participating in a single game or event simply doesn’t need it and athletes performing in longer events such as tournaments or excessive days of training should prepare ahead of time.

“Athletes need to prepare a day ahead by drinking plenty of water. During the event itself, athletes should be drinking. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is 80% water and 20% sports drink.” McKay further adds “If you want a push of glucose to fuel your muscles, eat an orange before you work out.”

The AAP report: “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate?”

5 things your pediatrician should be telling your child:

  1. Pediatricians should highlight the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks with patients and their parents, and talk about the potential health risks.
  2. Energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain, and should never be consumed by children or adolescents.
  3. Routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted, because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion.
  4. Sports drinks have a limited function for pediatric athletes; they should be ingested when there is a need for rapid replenishment of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes in combination with water during prolonged, vigorous physical activity.
  5. Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescent
Dr. Wendell McKay received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1988 and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore in 1992. After completing his pediatric residency in 1995 at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. McKay was chosen to spend an extra year as Pediatric Chief Resident. Upon returning to his home state of Maryland, he was appointed Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical Systems. Since 1997, he has been in private practice and is currently a managing partner at Parnes, May, McKay, Lee and Associates in Ellicott City, MD. Dr. McKay is board certified in pediatrics and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a member of the department of pediatrics at Howard County General Hospital. Dr. McKay has remained active in the community; acting as medical consultant to several local preschools and working with a variety of organizations. Most notably, Dr. McKay currently serves on the Maryland State Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), the Maryland Commission on Autism, Howard County’s Interscholastic Athletic Advisory Committee, and the Medical Advisory Board of the Columbia Association. Dr. McKay’s publishing credits include Co-Editor and Contributor to the 4th Edition of Primary Care of the Newborn, a pediatric handbook for physicians published by Elsevier in 2006 Dr. McKay lives with his wife and two children in Ellicott City.


read more

by Michele Hunter

I attended a potluck luncheon recently, and because several attendees were vegetarians, I wanted to contribute a dish that would be appealing to both non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike.  I once again turned to a favorite recipe for “Vegetarian Black Bean Chili,” which is based on one I found a few years ago in a cookbook in the Howard County Library System collection, Dinners in a Dish or a Dash by Jean Anderson.

I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe over the years, and the dish is always a hit.  It’s one of  the recipes I’m asked for most frequently and is easy, healthy, and quick— taking only about 30-40 minutes start to finish. I have also made this dish for a vegetarian friend who is gluten and lactose sensitive. She, too, asked for the recipe and now makes it for her family.  Serving the chili with some brown rice makes the dish a complete protein; just add a salad and you have a colorful, delicious, and healthy meal that will please just about anyone!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili*

2 T. extra virgin olive
1 C. chopped onion
1 large celery rib, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 fifteen oz. cans black beans
2 ten oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, liquid included
4 T. orange juice
1 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
½ tsp. hot red pepper sauce
¼ C. chopped flat-leafed parsley

1.    Heat oil in a large 4-quart saucepan over moderate heat for 1 minute.  Sauté the onion, celery, peppers, garlic, cumin, and oregano, stirring constantly until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
2.    Add the 2 cans of beans and their liquid, tomatoes, orange and lemon juices, parsley, and the hot pepper sauce.  NOTE: do not add salt as the canned beans and tomatoes usually have enough. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes.
1.    Serve over cooked brown rice if desired.  Additional condiments such as grated  cheese, sour cream, or chopped green onions may be added.

read more

Howard County Events – Mark Your Calendar!

Howard County Health Screenings and Events

  • June 25 – School’s out and it’s time for summer fun. Start with Book Camp: Travel Edition for 11-17 year olds at the Glenwood Branch on June 25 from 10am to 3pm. Take a trip around the world! Test your knowledge of distant places with outdoor Scottish games and trivia, create crafts, watch movies, try exotic foods, and enjoy pizza. Register online.
  • June 25 – Gardeners, we’re giving you lots of chances to “Ask a Master Gardener.” Stop by one of our classes on from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Miller, Central, and Savage Branches, and again at the Miller Branch on June 27 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.
  • June 25 – Hey, Kid, go fly a kite. Really. Soar To New Heights! At the Central Branch at 2 p.m. Learn the history and science of kite-flying and decorate a diamond kite. Ages 7 & up; 60 min. Register online.
  • June 27 – Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature at our Healthy Kids class at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.
  • June 27 – Motivate your budding 7-11 year old engineers with the Lego Architect class at the Glenwood Branch at 11 a.m. on the 27th and again at 7 p.m. on June 30.  They’ll learn about famous structures around the world, then build their own. Register online for June 27 or  June 30.
  • June 27 According to Autism Speaks, “Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually.” Join us at the Central Branch at 7 p.m. for Listening To Autism: A Father’s Awakening, A Son’s Voice. Award-winning author Mark Osteen, Ph.D., and Professor of English and Director of Film studies at Loyola University, Maryland, speaks about parenting a son diagnosed with severe autism. His recent memoir, One of Us: A Family’s Life with Autism, chronicles his challenges with Cameron, whose autism rouses intense emotions and physical sickness. Osteen reads excerpts and recounts his family’s struggles and triumphs on the challenging road to acceptance. Presented in partnership with the Howard County Autism Society. Register online.
  • June 28 – There’s another brain-building Columbia Scrabble Smackdown at the Central Branch at 1 p.m.on
  • June 29 – Youngsters (5-10 year olds) can also build their brains learning about the stars and planets in our Out of This World! drop-in class from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Savage Branch.
  • June 29 – Older kids (11-17) can learn and explore through the Science Club at the Miller Branch at 7 p.m. This session will focus on cryptography.  Register online.
  • July 1 – Make time for fun with the whole family.  The East Columbia Branch offers a great opportunity with Family Movies. Cats & Dogs is the selection at 2 p.m. hocoblogs@@@

read more

by Teresa Rhoades

I have to admit this, I have always hated getting bad grades and worked hard to avoid failing any tests. So, imagine my consternation when my doctor informed me that I had scored poorly on my 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Apparently, my result was 17 when the standard range is 30-100. (Source: KP test results)

The idea of a vitamin D deficiency was quite new to me, aside from what I remember from elementary school regarding rickets. Of course after receiving instructions from my doctor and filling my prescription for vitamin D supplements, I proceeded to seek out more information about Vitamin D in addition to what had already been provided to me from the KP Health Encyclopedia.

My first destination was Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. According to Medline Plus, “the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.” After perusing the first part of the Medline Plus article, a link was provided to a fact sheet. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Those who get too little of the vitamin may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children (I guess my memory served me right) and osteomalacia in adults.

According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, laboratory studies show that aside from the benefits mentioned previously, vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, can increase muscle strength and reduce falls in older people, and plays a critical role in controlling infections. With regard to the sources, vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the body also manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol, through a process triggered by the action of sunlight on skin. Since few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamin supplements.

I also went to the Mayo Clinic to look up additional information. This excellent article reminded me that, health information provided is not to be interpreted as specific medical advice and as always, talk to your healthcare provider. Speaking of healthcare provider, my doctor also did suggest that I exercise outdoors more. With that in mind, I am going to step away from the computer and take my dog for a walk.

Teresa Rhoades worked at the Central Branch from 2004-2005. During the next two years, she moved out of state and completed a degree in Library & Information Studies. She is currently the Assistant Branch Manager for the East Columbia Branch. She spends much of her spare time being walked by her dog, an extremely energetic German Short-haired pointer.

read more

One Ounce of Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

by Lekwon Imoke

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) heart disease is now the leading cause of death in America. Thirty-seven percent of United States adults are at risk for the disease while 24.6 percent of all U.S. adults in every ethnicity have been diagnosed with the disease.

Ask yourself these questions and answer with yes or no:

  • Would you consider yourself to be inactive?
  • Are you obese?
  • Do you smoke cigarettes?
  • Are you a diabetic?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • Do you have high cholesterol?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions, you are at risk. Meanwhile, those who have been diagnosed with heart disease are at risk for:

  • Heart Attack
  • Bypass surgery
  • Death

Are you a victim or at risk? In both cases it has been found that the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the threat of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate for Heart Disease


In a clinical trial conducted by Nestle Research Center it was discovered that when consumed in moderation, dark chocolate can lower both blood pressure and cholesterol. This can be attributed to the antioxidant, polyphenol, that is found in dark chocolate. The sweet morsels contain enough of the antioxidant to act like an aspirin on the cardiovascular system.  Polyphenols work against LDL, the bad cholesterol, by preventing them from oxidizing along artery walls. The same antioxidant also works to reduce high blood pressure by widening the blood cells to improve cardiovascular circulation. All you need to do in order to receive these health benefits is add one oz. of dark chocolate to your daily diet!

With July 4 right around the corner, why not add dark chocolate covered strawberries to the menu? Pick up your strawberries fresh from HCGH’s farmers market and take a look at this recipe. Enjoy!


Lekwon Imoke is currently a Public Relations Intern at Howard County General Hospital. As a member of the class of 2011 at Hofstra University, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her friends and family.

read more

Is it Naptime Yet?

Did you catch the recent article, The Power of Naps, by Mary Carole MacCauley that asks “When is it OK to catch some shut-eye on the job?”

Dr. Susheel Patil, a deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorder Center , believes that employees who work the graveyard shift should take a nap. Jeanne Geiger-Brown, co-director of the Work and Health Research Center at the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing believes that employees scheduled for long shifts should also have the opportunity to grab a few z’s. Geiger-Brown says, “Sleep is a biologically active process. Your body has to have it. If you don’t give your body sleep, it’s going to find a way to take it.”

MacCauley points out that nappers are a part of our popular culture and recent history. In addition to the air flight controllers who recently fell asleep on the job and Vice President Joe Biden’s well-televised lunchtime snooze, she points out that “Cartoon character Dagwood Bumstead has been dozing at his desk at the J.C. Dithers Co. for the past 78 years. Winston Churchill, the legendary British statesman who shepherded his island nation through World War II, once said, ‘When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because it was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities.’ And former President Bill Clinton was captured on YouTube after he famously drifted off in January 2008, during a Martin Luther King Day celebration in a Harlem church.”

Although studies show that 29 percent of workers acknowledged either becoming very tired or falling asleep while on the clock, Frederick Smock, president of the Baltimore-based Chesapeake Human Resources Association says, “Most companies are still clinging to a very traditional sense of the American workforce,” he says. “Things like napping and even telecommuting are very slow to take hold. Napping flies in the face of the old work ethic and corporate America is not embracing it. I personally think it would be beneficial to use naps to boost late-afternoon productivity. Caffeine can only carry you so far.”

News of sleepiness on the job has already forced changes in the nation’s hospitals. Beginning in July 2011, working hours for first-year medical interns will be limited to 16 hours at a stretch, reduced from the current limit of 30 hours; second- and third-year students will be limited to 28 hour shifts.

dagwood nappingFor those of us who still have to squeeze our naps in on the weekends, Geiger-Brown offers critical advice, “The ideal nap should last either 20 minutes or 90, because workers will awaken during a phase of light sleep and feel refreshed and alert. Conversely, naps lasting 30 to 60 minutes will interrupt the cycle of deep sleep and can result in a condition called ‘sleep drunkenness’ in which dreamers awake feeling confused and sluggish.”







Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

read more

Notes From the Farmers’ Market Chef

by Barbara Cornell

How is your garden growing?  To be honest I didn’t think I would be called upon to share my tomatoes with the little critters in my yard until they had actually produced some fruit.  Unfortunately the voles have taken a few whole plants.  I’ve rescued a few of the damaged plants, and they are happily sitting on my deck, in pots with the eggplant, lettuce, and basil that they will be sharing a plate with in the next few months.  I hope some of you were able to make use of the advice in some of the books I introduced to you in May.  In a way, I like the early gardening season best because the fresh, warm weather encourages us to get out and get some exercise by planting, weeding, and thinning.  But now we are getting to the more rewarding “harvesting” part!  Just remember to go out early or late in the day, either before or after the sun is at its strongest.

The farmers’ market vendors are really coming into their own now.  Variety is increasing from those early weeks of mostly lettuce and strawberries.  If you need some advice on how to use the bounty of your garden or the seasonal delicacies you are finding at the market, here are a few new books you can find at the Howard County Library System.

Edible: a celebration of local food
by Tracey Ryder & Carole Topalian. Yes, this is a cookbook, but even more it is a collection of articles about local “food heroes” taken from the regional editions of Edible magazine.  This is a book for the literate locavore who also likes to cook.  While the stories are organized by region, the recipes are sorted by season.  There is even a recipe for kudzu!

Farmers’ Market Cookbook: a fresh look at local flavor
, Southern Living. This scrumptious book has the kind of creative yet down-home recipes I associate with Southern Living magazine.  It is organized by season and includes such gems as Salted Caramel Strawberries, Sweet Onion Pudding, Fresh Asparagus Soup, and Blueberry Soup.

Salad as a Meal: healthy main-dish salads for every season
by Patricia Wells. This 12th book by the popular cooking teacher, based in Paris & Provence, concentrates on salads as a main dish but includes complementary appetizers and soups, crepes and cheeses, and breads to go with them.  It is beautifully photographed, and her notes and introductions whet your appetite.  Her earlier (2007) book Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the center of the plate is very similar and seems quite in line with the new USDA food plate guidelines.

Cooking in the Moment: a year of Seasonal recipes by Andrea Reusing. Some cookbooks make me want to put down the book and cook—this is one that makes me want to sit down and read.  The book itself is a feast for the eyes and has the added appeal of a real cloth binding.  Reusing is an award-winning chef at her Chapel Hill, NC restaurant, Lantern, but her heart seems to lie with her local food producers.  She relates some very engaging stories about them that enrich the recipes she gives us.  From her website: “When seasonality is re-imagined as a grocery list rather than a limitation, everyday meals become cause for celebration.”

I hope you will join me at the Glenwood Branch for The Farmers’ Market Chef Saturday morning, July 9, from 10-11:30.  We’ll talk about whatever veggies and fruits are in season and find some new and creative ways to use them.

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

read more

Howard County Events – Mark Your Calendar!

Howard County Health and Fitness Events

  • June 17: Dancing Under the People Tree
    6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Columbia Lakefront Stage. Every Friday, beginning June 17 until September 16, free dance instruction with music will be held under the People Tree at Town Center Lakefront. Tatia Zack will give instruction that’s fun for beginners and those with experience! When the dance session ends — the movie begins!  hocoblogs@@@
  • June 17:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One
    8 p.m. at Town Center, Lakefront in Columbia
  • June 18: Don’t forget about Dad this weekend!  In fact, the Central Branch is offering up some Father’s Day Fun at 2 p.m. Listen to stories about Dad, then make him a special gift! Ages 5 & up; 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.
  • June 18: Gardeners, we’re with you as long as the season lasts and maybe then some. Stop by one of our Master Gardeners classes for some tips–Ask a Master Gardener series at the Miller Branch  from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., and again at the Miller Branch on June 20 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.
  • June 20: Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature at our Healthy Kids class  at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.
  • June 20: At the Glenwood Branch at 3:30 p.m., we have a free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital
  • June 20: Well-being is about balance.  And at the Exercise, Your Emotions, And Food class at the East Columbia Branch on June 20 at 7 p.m., we’ll explore the various types of exercise and resulting physiological benefits. We’ll also develop strategies for creating a daily exercise routine and balancing exercise and eating. Presented by Charlene Muhammad, MS Consultant at Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.  A Well & Wise workshop. Register online.
  • June 20: And, if you’re looking for a way to beat the heat, swing by the Elkridge Branch at 6:30 p.m. for a Summer Sno-Cone Social. Bring your beach towels and chairs! Enjoy sno-cones, play games, and hear about some great summer reads.
  • June 21:  Lyme Disease: Reducing Your Risk
    7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Wellness Center. Lyme Disease in Howard County is increasing, attend this informative free lecture to dispel the myths and understand the facts. Learn how to prevent Lyme Disease by practicing specific behaviors. Presented by Saba Sheikh, M.D.
  • June 21: And once you develop an exercise routine, maybe you can Get Fit In The Park With The Boot Camp Girl at 6 p.m. on June 21. Stephanie Dignan runs you through your paces in the beautiful Western Regional Park. Register online.
  • June 22:  Stroke Support Group
    6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Bolduc Family Outpatient Center Classroom. The monthly stroke support group members share, ask questions and provide a supportive environment to survivors and their families. The goal of the group is for stroke patients and their families to learn that they are not alone or to talk with others who have been through a similar experience.  Meets the fourth Wednesday of the month. For more information or to register, call 410-740-7601. Registration recommended, but not required.
  • June 24:  Maple Lawn Summer Concert Series Featuring Millennium (80’s & 90’s)
    7 – 9 p.m. Enjoy a evening of great live music, bring a lawn chair and your friends. Concert location is on the patio of Maggie Moo’s 8170 Maple Lawn Blvd. For more information visit: (301)604-1011
  • June 24: Don’t forget to work in some valuable family time.  The Savage Branch offers a great opportunity with Family Movie Fridays.  How to Train Your Dragon is the selection 3:30 p.m.
  • June 27: Bring A Sack, Get Answers Back
    9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Wellness Center. Bring your medications to the hospital and our expert pharmacist will teach you more about the prescription drugs you are taking. Offered in partnership with Johns Hopkins Outpatient Pharmacy

read more

By Jamequa Redmond Summerall

There comes a point in the life of every woman who has had a child when she must do the unthinkable… face that “new” woman in the mirror. That’s right, I said “new” , because, unfortunately, any woman that has produced a little peanut will eventually see the results of her labor.
It may take a moment or two to come to grips with the new form she sees.

When I had my daughter three years ago, I never imagined that I would look any different after. I just assumed that after everything, I would magically be able to go back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and cute tops. Not so much. When I finally bellied up to the mirror, I took a moment. Then two. In the end, I stared at myself for 12 minutes and 24 seconds in sheer horror. I completely did not recognize the woman before me.

Without going into too much detail, just know there may have been a lot of crying involved and some gnashing of teeth. It was all cathartic, in a way.

But, after that moment, I never looked in the mirror again. Every time I brushed my teeth, showered, etc., that new woman would be there, but darned if I would meet her eyes. In the end, my lack of concern or attention to myself led to me gaining weight and in essence disappearing. Who cared if I was not the me I thought I’d be. I threw myself into my new role and said, “My baby is my world. Who cares about me?” I was invisible behind this amazing little person.

Fast forward three years and I found myself pregnant with my son. I made a promise that this time would be different. This time I would eat healthy. This time I would take time for me. This time, I would have a healthy baby AND my sense of self.
And it worked.

I found books to help me eat healthy. I loved two so much I asked the library to add them to the collection. The 100 Healthiest Foods To Eat During Pregnancy by Jonny Bowden has a trimester-by-trimester guide to the foods that will give you the most bang for your caloric buck. Then there’s Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today’s Mothers to Be by Catherine Cheremeteff Jones that combines recipes and suggestions for the best eating experience one can have. Here before me were suggestions on what to eat that did not take a million years to make (who has that much time?) and were so much better than the fast food that I would have been munching.

And yes, I gained weight. But, not as much.

I found the time to be me, not just mommy. When I looked into the mirror this time, I smiled. The woman that I saw looked a lot like me. Sure she was still sporting a few extra pounds, but not as much. Thanks to eating better, I actually ended my pregnancy healthier (and lighter) and in better shape than I started. My recovery time this time around was amazingly short. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, that could also be because I had a three year old to chase.)

I have continued my healthier habits and I can see the results. My entire family is benefiting because of it. In the coming months, I plan to take this one step further: I am eager to try new recipes, eager to attempt new physical activities. I am a healthier happier me and that is truly awesome!

Jamequa Redmond Summerall is a roving library jack of all trades: Part technology goddess & preschool class junkie + Part encyclopedia & web aficionado + Part mama to 2 little ones. Find her at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library System.

read more

First crush as a teachable moment for parents

Kids Playing

Excerpt: Make sure your child knows it’s never okay for someone to hurt them, physically or with words.

Quick Link for Wednesday:

Dipping pigtails into inkwells has evolved into more contemporary forms of demonstrating your first crush. Are they any more appropriate today than yesterday? Read Dr. Claire McCarthy’s insightful article about how a first crush can be a teachable moment and how the messages we send our children matter.




Claire McCarthy, the Medical Communications Editor at Children’s Hospital in Boston, is a pediatrician with almost 20 years of primary care experience who has been writing on medical and parenting topics for more than a decade.

read more

Poisons and Accidental Overdoses

I can vividly recall walking into my toddler’s room one morning and finding her with an open and empty bottle of Motrin and tell-tale sticky, red residue on her fingers and face. I panicked. My husband and I had been up most of the night nursing her through a high fever and he had just left for work. I had no idea how much, if any, she might have ingested. Luckily, I had the number to Poison Control.

According to this Baltimore Sun article, Maryland Poison Control (MPC) receives 35,000 exposure calls each year, half involving children under the age of 6. Bruce Anderson, Director of Operations at MPC says, “The MPC gets calls about all sorts of products. You name it, we’ve probably been called about it and probably been called 1,000 times previously about that exact product or situation. Folks often tell us, ‘You’re never going to believe what just happened ….’ Since the poison center arrived at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1972, we’ve managed more than 1.9 million exposures. Most of those calls involve commonly available household products. If it’s something found in every home, we’ll get called about it commonly. Examples: cleaners like bleach and ammonia, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Motrin, common personal care items like toothpaste and deodorants, but also things like houseplants or mushrooms from the yard or pesticides.”

I was only 1 of the 1.9 million calls, but I’m sure that the advice and calm direction I received was the same response given to each of those panicky callers. In the end, it turned out that my husband had administered her last dose in the wee hours of the morning and left the empty bottle behind on the dresser. We were lucky. Mr. Yuck became a fixture in our home – his ugly green face could be found under the sink and in nearly every room of the house. We became vigilant about locking away our over-the-counter and prescription drugs to keep them out of the hands of the little ones.

But they grew up and I grew less careful.

A recent article, Deaths from Rx Pain Meds Surpass Heroin and Cocaine, from PsychCentral reminded me that there is no rest from vigilance. My toddlers are now teenagers and face new dangers. The article points to alarming new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the University of North Carolina and Duke University Medical Center that show “unintentional overdose deaths in teens and adults have reached epidemic proportions.” In fact, the report says that unintentional deaths from pain medications surpass deaths from cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. The CDC has been sounding the alarm about this trend since last year. In June 2010 the agency announced that “the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that one in five high school students in the United States have abused prescription drugs, including the opioid painkillers OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.” The CDC also reported in June of last year that visits to hospital emergency departments involving non-medical use of prescription narcotic pain relievers had more than doubled, rising 111 percent between 2004 and 2008.

It’s time to do more. Mr. Yuk isn’t scary enough for my teenagers. (Although, this 1971 Mr. Yuk campaign might still do the trick.)

June is National Safety Month.  It’s time for me to weed out the medicine cabinet and appropriately dispose of all the unused medications and secure the ones that are still needed. To keep your toddlers and teens safe, as well as those who visit your home, I hope you’ll do the same.


Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

read more

By Brian Grim

I had a great time running in the Howard County Library 5k on June 4.  I was able to keep the pace I wanted, and finish within what was, for me, a respectable time.  But most importantly, I didn’t forget to have fun. It’s easy for me to do that sometimes when I’m working hard towards a goal. I can get so focused on achieving a certain result that I don’t take the time to take in the moment and enjoy myself.  Not this time! The weather was perfect, and the atmosphere was relaxed.  It was more about being part of a fun event with lots of great people than it was about being competitive.

Of course, I’m not exactly a competitive runner anyway.  I don’t ever expect to finish any better than somewhere in the middle.  It was nice to see so many others out there who are like me.  There were people of all ages and skill levels, just having a good time going for a run together.  In fact, the best part of the race for me may have been seeing the joy of the people finishing near the back, celebrating the accomplishment of simply finishing.

I  want to thank all of the people who worked hard to organize the Howard County Library 5k, and all the volunteers who helped by marking the course or giving out water and encouragement.  Congratulations to everybody who ran.  I hope you achieved your goals, but even if you didn’t, I hope you had fun!
If you’re looking for any inspiration to keep the fun in your run, check out some of these books:

Runners World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Know to Run for Fun, Fitness, and  Competition edited by Amby Burfoot.
The Runner’s Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know And Then Some by Mark Remy.
The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer by  David A. Whitsett.
Go East Old Man: Adventures of a Runner in His 70s Traveling 22 Western States by Paul Reese.
The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life by John Bingham.
The Runner’s Literary Companion: Great Stories and Poems About Running

And these articles from the HCLS databases:

A Few Rules to Run By by Mark Remy.  Runner’s World, Jan2010, Vol. 45 Issue 1, p75-79, 5p.
How I Make 100 Miles Feel Fun by Krissy Moehl.  Shape, Oct2010, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p116-116, 1p.

And if you’re looking for your next local opportunity to run in a group, check the Charm City Run Events Calendar.

Brian Grim is a Customer Service Specialist for the Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library System.

He started at the Savage Branch in 2006. Brian is a sporadic fitness enthusiast, an occasional cook, and a one-time musician.

read more

The Great Outdoors and Other Family Activities in Howard County

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”

Nature Walk Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

Henry David Thoreau reminds of us the importance of the natural world to our health and well being and a little more recently, PsychCentral reinforces the idea that going green benefits our physical and mental health.

Do you remember playing in streams?  Building dams and treehouses?  Finding salamanders and box turtles?  Do your children have those same experiences?  If not, start them off this weekend with the help of some great local family activities.

  • Wonder Walk and Talk at the Howard County Conservancy June 11, 10-11 a.m.  Photograph Nature with Michael Oberman.  Free.  Bring your digital camera.
  • Summer Series Walks in Howard County Parks June 11 at Western Regional Park or July 9 at Schooley Mill Park from  8 a.m. – noon. Presented by Howard County Recreation and Parks and the Columbia Volksmarch Club.  Call 410.290.6510 for more information.
  • Take Your Children Fishing at Lost Lake, Patapsco River, June 18,  10am
    Great Father’s Day weekend activity! No experience necessary – learn how to teach your kids to fish. Children of all ability levels between the ages of 6 and 15 are welcome. Fishing regulations, ethics and safety will be covered before fishing.$5 fee per child for bait and use of rod and reel. Advance registration required – by June 16 firm.

At the risk of invoking the ghost of Thoreau, there is a great new free App for the iPhone and iPad called Leafsnap for you to take into the woods. Leafsnap was developed by researchers at the Smithsonian Institution, University of Maryland and Columbia University, and potentially replaces the unwieldy pocket guide to trees. Simply snap a photo of a leaf against a white background and Leafsnap will tell you which species of tree it belongs to and show photos of the tree’s branches, flowers, fruit and bark so you can double check its accuracy.

Forgot how to play in the dirt?  Need a refresher course on how to identify bugs?

Here are a few books to guide you:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv

Sharing Nature with Children: the Classic Parents’ & Teachers’ Nature Awareness Guidebook, by Joseph Bharat Cornell

Go Outside!: Over 130 Activities for Outdoor Adventures by Nancy Blakey


Howard County Health and Fitness EventsAnd… a few more activities!

  • Gardeners, this is truly your time of year! So enjoy the sunshine and stop by one of our Master Gardeners classes for some tips–Ask a Master Gardener series at the Glenwood and Miller Branches on  June 11  from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., and again at the Miller Branch on June 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. And don’t miss a special Master Gardeners class at Glenwood on June 17 at 7 p.m., Posies In A Pot. Master Gardener Pat Greenwald demonstrates how to brighten outdoor environments with a wide variety of containers and plants. Register online for this special session.
  • Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature at our Healthy Kids class on June 13 at 10:15am at the Savage Branch. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.
  • Also at the Savage Branch on June 13 at 12:30pm, we have free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital.
  • If your teens are still looking for some fun activities, especially with school coming to a close, they may want to attend the Teen Summer Reading Kickoff Lock-in on June 17 at the East Columbia Branch.  They can celebrate Teen Summer Reading with an evening of games, crafts, and a live reptile show from the experts at Critter Caravans! Refreshments provided. 7 – 9:30 p.m. Ages 11-17. Permission slip required.
  • hocoblogs@@@

    read more

    By Wendy Camassar

    Recently, people have been asking me about my weight loss and how I was able to do it…as if it’s some big mystery. It really isn’t.

    In 2007, I started to make some changes in my diet and increase my exercise level. I began to lose weight, very gradually. So gradually, that people didn’t notice until  recently. I cut back on refined carbohydrates, and I eat a mostly vegetarian diet (limiting animal proteins to fish, so I’m not a true vegetarian). The point is, I didn’t go on a diet. I made some lifestyle changes as well as dietary ones, and the weight came off. I was impatient at first, but now I feel that I have a better chance at keeping the weight off. I’m not anti-diet, I just feel that people tend to go on diets, lose the weight, and then go back to their old ways. I’m all about making changes–for good!

    So back to the question: “How’d you do it?”

    Many people are really surprised that I don’t go to a gym. In fact, I’ve never joined a gym. Gym memberships are great if you use them regularly.  I just know for me, I’m not likely to get up at 6 a.m. and go to the gym. I like to work out alone, in the privacy of my home, with DVDs or my treadmill.  I’m a big walker and I love to go on hikes, so when weather permits, I’m in the woods. I prefer to exercise early in the morning, when the house is quiet.  This works for me, though I realize not everyone likes to exercise so early in the morning. It is time set aside for me, where I can clear my head and get energized for the day.

    Some of the workout DVDs that I keep in rotation are by Jillian Michaels, who has become famous for her work on the TV show The Biggest Loser. Her workouts are very challenging and include modifications for all levels of experience and/or stamina.  Three in my rotation are Banish Fat Boost Metabolism, 30 Day Shred, and No More Trouble Zones.  All three are available in the Howard County Library System’s collection.  They can be used by the beginner, intermediate, or advanced exerciser.  She is tough, but I find her to be very motivating.   She is a proponent of circuit training, which involves three minutes of toning, two minutes of cardio, and one minute of core work.  While I have many other workouts that I tire of, or feel like they become too easy over time, I have found these three to be very effective, and challenging enough to keep me motivated to continue using them over and over again!

    Wendy has been a part-time Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch Library since February 2011. Prior to joining the Miller Branch, she worked as an hourly Shelver at the Central Branch for one year. She is very excited to be a part of the Miller Branch Staff during a time of enormous growth and change!

    read more

    Quick Link Wednesday- Summer Safety

    If you haven’t “liked” the Howard County Government Facebook Page- you should! It’s full of great information.

    From yesterday’s  Howard County Government Facebook Page:  “With vacation season here and as part of National Rip Current Awareness Week, the Office of Emergency Management would like to remind residents of the dangers of rip currents, the strongest of which can attain speeds of 8 ft. per second (faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint). So, before heading to the beach, be sure to check the local weather forecast for the rip current outlook. For more beach safety tips, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

    How to swim safely out of a Rip Current

    read more

    Be Prepared for a Tornado

    On May 22, 2011, the St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Missouri sustained extensive damage after receiving a direct hit from an F5 tornado. During the storm winds reached 200 mph, 183 patients, 175 staff and an unknown number of visitors sheltered in place with only ten minutes warning.  5 patients on ventilators were killed when the hospital lost power and the backup generator was sucked out of the building by the tornado.  1 visitor was also killed.  Medical records were found 70 miles east of the hospital and gurneys were tossed 5 blocks away.  The tornado left a six mile path of total destruction.

    What does that mean for us in Howard County?  Is our hospital prepared for such an emergency?  Are you?

    Howard County General Hospital has an extensive Emergency Management Plan, including a tornado response plan that is ready to put into effect.  The plan includes:

    • The initiation of a Code Yellow- tornado alert upon receipt of news from the State Emergency Management system, or the actual sighting of a funnel cloud.  The alert is activated and transmitted through the hospital’s emergency messaging system.
    • Overhead announcements stating:  “Code Yellow- tornado alert” and “All ambulatory patients please move to the corridors” are broadcast throughout the hospital.
    • Nursing personnel supervise the movement of ambulatory patients to corridors and place them in seated or prone positions, covering them as necessary.  Equipment needed to care for those patients may also be moved to the corridor.
    • Non ambulatory patients are moved- if possible- away from windows within the room.  Rooms are secured by closing blinds and placing blankets against the windows.  Patients are covered or shielded to protect them from debris. Doors to the room are closed.
    • In non-patient care areas, staff will assist people in evacuating from rooms with outside windows to corridors, stairwells or windowless areas.

    What about you?  Do you know what you need to do in a general emergency?

    • The Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) tongue in cheek Zombie Survival guide provided a good reference on how to prepare for any emergency- including a zombie emergency.
    • If your Y2K survival kit needs a little freshening,  Howard County’s Community Emergency Response Network or CERN, has a list of supplies that you should have on hand.
    • If you don’t have a NOAA radio – and everyone should have one, you should know our local Emergency Broadcast channels:  Baltimore WBAL (AM-1090) and WIYY (FM-97.9) and Washington WTOP (FM-103.5) and WMAL (AM-630)

    How about a tornado emergency?

    The CDC has good advice about how to prepare for a tornado, what to do during a tornado and what to do after a tornado.  CDC experts say that “The key to surviving a tornado and reducing the risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your family will do if a tornado strikes.  Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado.  Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others.”  If you are:

    • At Home- Pick a place away from windows, preferably in the interior part of a basement or an inside room on the lowest floor. Get under something sturdy such as a table or workbench, cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag or mattress and protect your head.  The CDC advises against sheltering in a mobile home.
    • On the road- You cannot outrun a tornado. Get out of your vehicle. Get out of your vehicle.  Get out of your vehicle.
    • Outdoors- Avoid areas with trees and avoid vehicles. Lie flat in a gully or ditch or low spot.
    • In Public Buildings- Move away from windows. Go to the innermost part of the building on the lowest possible floor.

    And don’t forget to talk to your family. Educate them about the difference between a watch and a warning and which places are the safest places to ride out the storm. Know ahead of time where you will find shelter.



    read more

    by Ara G. Beal

    In Howard County there are a myriad of ways to stay well.  At the fourth annual Healthy Howard Day held in Centennial Park this weekend, many of these were on display.







    The new Miller Branch of the library will include an Enchanted Garden that will be used for classes and events, many focused on healthy eating.  The library is currently selling handprint tiles and engraved pavers to support the garden.







    School Board Member, Ellen Giles discusses healthy schools initiatives in the area with attendees.


    read more

    I have a teen driver in the house- the last in the terrifying trilogy.  She’s been driving for nearly a year and I have to say she does a pretty good job despite the phantom brake pedals that appear on the passenger side of the car whenever I ride along!   I noticed, however, that “defensive driving” isn’t stressed as much these days in Driver’s Ed as it was when I was learning how to drive.

    In honor of National Safety Month, check out this informative New York Times post.  It gives insightful information about why teenagers account for 10 times as many car crashes as middle-age drivers.

    Teens Driving

    Week 3 of National Safety Month will focus on Teen Driving Safety

    If you guessed reckless driving is the cause, you guessed incorrectly.  Dr. Dennis Durbin, co-director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says that focusing on these three common novice driver mistakes could significantly improve teenage driving:

    1. Failing to scan the road (causes 21% of teen crashes).
    2. Misjudging driving conditions (causes 21% of accidents).
    3. Becoming distracted (causes of 20% of accidents).

    All of these are deficiencies are linked to our failure to teach defensive driving. Share this article with your teen drivers and, if necessary, make a plan to correct these common mistakes.

    The Howard County Police Department will offer Collision Avoidance Training for new drivers on June 24th and 25th.

    Finally…  what are some key rules that you learned as a teen driver or that you taught your new drivers?  I liked the advice to pretend that there was an egg between your foot and the gas pedal…   in theory it kept me from stomping on the gas.   The best advice we receive in our comments section will win a Howard County General Hospital pedometer!


    Howard County Health and Fitness EventsThis Week’s Events!

    It’s that time of year again, one of the most exciting in the Library for readers of all ages: it’s time for the Summer Reading Kickoff.  Join us at the East Columbia Branch on June 4, 2011 at 9 a.m. and throughout the day for funfilled events and to register for our Summer Reading Clubs.
    Immediately before the Summer Reading Kickoff, at 8 a.m., bring family, friends, and neighbors to the 5K and Family Fun Run benefiting the Library. The course begins and ends at East Columbia Branch. It’s too late to register, but not too late to cheer the runners on!

    Don’t forget to attend the Third Annual Men’s Health Fair of Howard County on Saturday, June 4 from 10 a.m. –  2 p.m. at Howard High School.

    Also on June 4, join Well & Wise’s own Farmers’ Market Chef for a class of the same name. She’ll discuss  creative ideas for using seasonal produce or CSA shares. Samples available. Register online.

    And gardeners, we’ll never leave you in the dust, just the dirt with our Ask a Master Gardener series at the Miller Branch 6/4 from 10am-12pm and again on June 6 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

    And bring the whole family to Healthy Howard Day for fun and games on Sunday, June 5 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Centennial Park.

    There’s a lot of fun to be had this weekend, including some brain-challenging fun with the Chess Club at the Central Branch at 1p.m. on June 5. Ages 10-17 welcome.

    Explore simple health concepts inspired by children’s literature at our Healthy Kids class on June 6 at 10:15 am at the Savage Branch. Ages 3-5 with adult; 45 min. Multi-week series. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 30 minutes before program.

    And on June 6 at 3:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Branch we have free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital.

    Are your little ones looking for some high-seas adventures?  The Miller Branch is hosting the Pee Wee Pirates show on June 7 at 11 a.m. So join Captain Jean, the Pirate Queen to learn about exploration in the old days. A fun workout for brains and bodies alike! Families (ages 3 & up); 45 min. No registration required.

    Teens get some exercise while helping us “Tab Our Branch” at Elkridge on June 7 at 4 p.m.  Join the Teen Advisory Board and spruce up our branch for summer. Wear clothes suitable for painting. No registration required.

    And on we’re still Calling All Volunteers! Join us at the Glenwood Branch at 7 p.m. on June 7 or the East Columbia Branch at 4 p.m. on June 10.  You could make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. To register for orientation session, submit a volunteer application. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration.

    Ellicott City Seniors, growing older shouldn’t mean slowing down.  Keep sharp and engage in lively conversation by joining folks at the Ellicott City Senior Center adjacent to the Miller Branch for a book discussion on June 8 from 1 – 2 p.m.  This month please bring a title or two to recommend.

    Get inspired to dance or pick up some new moves at The Urban Dance Showcase on June 8 at the Central Branch at 7 p.m.  Instructors and expert dancers perform the latest footwork in Chicago Steppin’ and Urban Ballroom dancing. Participants include Yvonne Stewart & Baltimore Steppers in Motion; Gary Brown & Tracy Stewart; and Garrett Kellam & Another Level Dance Studio. Register online.


    Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

    read more

    Modern Health for Modern Youth

    by Kim T. Ha

    With the recent availability of e-books for kids from the Howard County Library System, children and parents can share interactive stories and activities online from home and at their favorite branch. Favorites such as Diary of a Fly and Curious George are available, and books are either animated with sound or static with links for “page-turning.” Many titles include links to related online games and information on authors and illustrators. Howard County Library subscribes to the following children’s e-book collections: TumbleBook Library, BookFlix, and TrueFlix. Howard County Library also links to the International Children’s Digital Library, a free online collection of international children’s literature available in 55 languages. This month, I’ll focus on the TumbleBook Library. Below are some of my favorite emotional and physical health-related children’s e-books that you can access right from your home computer through TumbleBook.

    Toilet Tales by Andrea Wayne von Konigslow, Grade Pre-K-2
    This humorous e-book explains why animals don’t use the toilets! A mouse is too small and would fall in, while a lion would refuse to get off, thinking that it were his throne. A chicken would sit on the toilet for days, waiting for something to hatch. A giraffe wouldn’t even fit through the bathroom door. After a series of hilarious animal mishaps, this story concludes with, “Toilets are made for big kids like you.” With soft illustrations depicting subtle animal motions, this book is an effective supplement to other potty training stories for children.

    Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace, Grade K-2
    Little Pea loves many things; he loves to roll down hills, hang out with his pea pals and to listen to Mama Pea tell stories. Little Pea, however, does not like to eat his dinner: candy. Rosenthal makes fun of the well-known “eat your vegetables” statement in this funny and simply drawn tale. The drawings and animation of the Pea family are minimal against a white background and very effective in conveying Little Pea’s emotions. Both parents and children alike will be able to relate to this story, and this tale will likely trigger conversation about the importance of eating vegetables. Also check out Little Hoot and Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

    Keep Reading...

    Stretch by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Scott Menchin, Grade K-2 Cronin’s rhyming words and Menchin’s colorful illustrations delight in this book starring an energetic dog stretching from page to page. Children are asked to stretch high, low, and wide; then they are also asked to get creative and stretch underwater, in outer space, to show their feathers, and more. This book introduces young children to the concept of stretching and makes it fun and imaginative. Also check out Wiggle by Doreen Cronin.

    Ish by Peter Reynolds, Grade K-3 Reynold’s loosely drawn and sparse, whimsical illustrations perfectly represent this story about a boy who learns to express his emotions through art. Ramon loves to draw anywhere and any time, until his older brother laughs at one of his pieces. Luckily, Ramon’s younger sister Marisol treasures all of his rejects, displaying them on her bedroom walls. When Ramon discovers Marisol’s collection, he says about her favorite, “It was SUPPOSED to be a vase of flowers, but it doesn’t look like one.” Marisol replies, “Well, it looks vase-ish!” From then on, Ramon sees drawing in a whole new light, thinking and drawing “ish-ly.” A wonderful book to encourage the artist in every child. Also check out The Dot by Peter Reynolds

    First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love, Grade K-3 Everyone will be able to relate to Sarah Jane Hartwell’s first-day jitters. She knows no one at her new school and just hates it. With much encouragement from Mr. Hartwell, Sarah Jane drags herself out of bed. On Sarah Jane’s way to school, her head hurts and her hands feel clammy. Sara Jane meets the principal, Mrs. Burton, who introduces her to her new class, and readers will be in for a surprise! This book helps children see that they are not alone in having anxiety about new and different situations. Also available in Spanish in the TumbleBook Library.

    Kim Ha is the Children’s Instructor and Research Supervisor at the Elkridge Branch of the Howard County Library System.  She enjoys dancing, jewelry-making, photography and traveling. So far, her favorite destinations are Hawaii and Italy. She recently discovered the joys of yoga and stunt kite flying.



    read more