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June 6, 2018

Children’s Picture Books About Mindfulness

Despite its status as a buzzword these days, mindfulness is an essential life tool. Studies show that people of all ages benefit from mindfulness practices. Children who learn these tools are able to focus better in school, they are less anxious, more confident and creative, and more likely to become leaders among their peers. By instilling mindfulness in children at a young age, they will be able to carry these lessons with them into adulthood as old friends, instead of struggling to create new habits as is often the case when we are already grown.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but instead a simple survey of the resources available that ably illustrate the concept of mindfulness. The books listed, with the possible exception of one, are not meant to be instructive, but rather serve to cultivate a certain feeling and can facilitate discussions with your resident young person. To get started, check out some of the books below as well as a few more titles on my Mindfulness—Picture Books booklist. And keep an eye out for our new movement-based, early literacy program, Move to Learn (ages 3-5), which was piloted at the Crown Heights, Eastern Parkway and Leonard branches earlier this spring.

Book Cover: All In a Day
All In a Day written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure

A day can be so many things. It can be full of surprises or change or new beginnings. A day can be anything we choose, if we are just open to the possibilities. With illustrations that seem to hearken back to a simpler time and perfectly match the cadence of Rylant’s verse, the message is plain: All we have is today, no use worrying about what has happened or what is to come. “The past is sailing off to sea, the future’s fast asleep. A day is all you have to be, it’s all you get to keep.”

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Book Cover: Breathe and Be
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems written by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen

This book literally caught my eye as I was walking by the poetry section one day. The new books tend to jump off the shelf at me in that way. This book is gorgeous and I loved it so much that I bought a copy for my personal adult library. Published in 2017, the poems that grace each page follow the Japanese tanka style and make the concept of mindfulness accessible by placing them in the context of the natural world. The words let the reader know that the simple acts of paying attention, breathing, noticing can be freeing. The illustrations by Laitinen possess a serene, dreamlike quality which makes this book a perfect bedtime read.

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Book Cover: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids written by Carol McCloud, illustrated by David Messing

Being mindful isn’t only about the relationship with the self, it is also about your relationship with others. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? teaches children the value of kindness to others and how it is inextricably linked to our own thoughts and emotions. The premise is simple, everyone has a bucket. When our bucket is full, we are happy and content. When it is empty, we may be sad or lonely or angry. Through the concept of the bucket, children learn that they have the power to choose how they want to feel. They also learn that they have the power to choose how they want to make others feel. The illustrations are colorful, demonstrative, and inclusive. Use this book to encourage your child to make the best choices for themself and others.

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Book Cover: Move Your Mood
Move Your Mood written by Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

Get moving with Move Your Mood! This book is based on the concept that our emotions live in our bodies. When we are inert, they get stuck and they stagnate. When we move, our emotions can shift and change, taking us from sad to content or from angry to calm. When we exercise, our brain produces endorphins which naturally elevate our mood no matter what age we are. Have fun learning about emotions by acting out the rhythmic, alliterative text with your young one. There is a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers at the back with more tips and ideas.

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Book Cover: Now
Now written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis

This picture book features rich, colorful illustrations, accompanied by simple statements that all begin with “This is my favorite…”. As we follow the young narrator, she tells us about her favorite breeze, her favorite cloud, her favorite hug. It is clear that she is fully engaged in what she is doing at any given moment. No distractions. Only now. The illustrations were created using a technique called sumi painting, or Japanese brush painting, out of the Zen Buddhist tradition. Steeped in natural imagery, Now engages all the senses and is a wonderful homage to being in the present moment.

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Honorable Mentions: A Handful of Quiet by Thich Nhat Hanh and I Am: Why Two Little Words Mean So Much by Wayne W. Dyer. These books are not yet in the Brooklyn Public Library collection but if you think they should be, you can use the contact form here to request they be added.

Tags: Book Talk

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