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Until recently I had never thought of mindfulness books for children. However, I am sure you will agree that this is an emotionally volatile time. In one day I sometimes lead the spectrum of what I felt in a week / month / three months / year. Children are definitely feeling an influx of stress too, and with that in mind, I want to recommend these books that aid them by celebrating happiness, addressing anxiety, and developing coping skills.
For the past few months, while unpacking boxes of new books in the library, I’ve noticed a mini-theme of mindfulness. They don’t get complicated, but rather focus on inspiring children to think about what they love and what makes them happy. (You know, à la The Sound of Music is “My Favorite Things”.) In fact, reading these books inspired me to talk to myself about the little things that cheer me up and inspire me – you know how short, vivid illustrated self-help books. While these nine picture books are about mindfulness and coping skills, we recently published a list of books aimed at anxious children if you are more interested in books to help explain fear to children. Most of all, I hope that this list will help find new ways to experience joy.
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Layla’s happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Seven-year-old Layla loves many things: night, purple plums, eating spaghetti without a fork and listening to her parents, telling stories and reading poetry. This deceptively simple story is both whimsical and firmly rooted in a realistic city, and full of beautiful, little moments to cherish. In addition, Layla’s sunshine view of existence is contagious and will inspire kids to share what they love.
Happy: A children’s book on mindfulness by Nicola Edwards and Katie Hickey
In addition to bright, beautiful illustrations, this book aims to show how best to capture every moment and strive for happiness. Each page describes a way of being mindful – from recognizing the taste of a food to relaxing our limbs. To be honest, I felt calmer after reading this book, and it has helpful questions and suggestions for exercise.
Meditation station by Susan B. Katz and Anait Semirdzhyan
This is an easy resource for preschoolers and younger children. A little bear gets overwhelmed when visiting an exciting train station and begins to meditate and take a breath. With the help of a train station metaphor, children learn to keep their balance through calming techniques.
What we’re going to build by Oliver Jeffers
This is a book about kindness, resilience, and understanding. A father and daughter gather their tools and get to work building a house to fall in love with, a fortress to keep enemies out, and a table to argue with friends. Jeffers’ art is breathtaking as always and every side is glowing.
Where happiness begins by Eva Eland
A sequel to Elands When Sadness Is at Your Door, this picture book immediately engages with minimalist illustrations, simple text, and bright colors. “[Happiness] often has disguises and different names, ”the book suggests, and I agree – sometimes happiness feels very far from us, and this book reminds readers that it is still somewhere around us, no matter how well hidden it seems.
Hey Warrior by Karen Young and Norvile Dovidonyte
This provides great, easy-to-digest information about anxiety. It is designed to help empower children by teaching them what fear is and why it makes them feel a certain way. In addition, it is written emotionally accessible and can be used for children of different ages. There are even useful coping strategies out there.
Calm! by Kate Alizadeh
This book is all about sounds and observing their cozy rhythms – sounds like a bubbling pan on a stove, a cat chewing its food, or the hum of a laptop. I love the message to toddlers that if they just need a quiet time to notice, there are interesting sounds everywhere. Plus, the curly kid really gave me something to relate to because as a toddler I had this exact hairstyle, not a word of a lie.
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard, Daniel Rechtschaffen and Holly Clifton-Brown
Learn your ABCs while taking a deep, calming breath. It’s a total win-win situation! Using accessible breathing techniques like Alligator Breath, Redwood Breath, and Superhero Breath, the book offers imaginative prompts that will calm children and make them smile.
All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia
A young girl learns about the life cycle while she and her grandpa work together in the garden, plant flowers and vegetables and later pull vegetables to eat. As a result, her grandpa teaches her about the cycle of life and shows that there are circles everywhere – the sun, bicycle wheels, and even the circles of our eyes. Coupled with the lovely, soft text, the illustrations are beautiful and Garcia rightly won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award 2018 for them.
And there you go – find those books, dim the lights, sit down at your favorite reading spot, and then relax. I promise you and your favorite children will definitely enjoy these relaxing bedtime readings.