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5 Children’s Books That Teach Us About Mindfulness

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

The Quiet Book (ages 4-9)

By Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Renata Liwska

Don’t you love when writers point out those subtle moments that we often don’t take the time to notice? Each page of this book presents a different type of quiet like “Swimming underwater quiet” or "Don't scare the robin quiet". Deborah Underwood catches those little spaces in time when quiet can be comforting (“Storytime quiet”) or even difficult (“Last one to get picked up from school quiet”). This book abounds with opportunities to connect and reflect.

Why is this book so mindful?

Mindfulness is about noticing those moments that we often ignore. Quieting is an important aspect of mindfulness, it allows us to bring our attention inward and can offer a new perspective that we can then project outward.

After reading this book: Notice the quiet around you right now. Discuss some of your favourite quiet moments, like perhaps the sound of bubbles popping in the bathtub.

The Lion and the Bird (ages 3-8)

By Marianne Dubuc

This is the English translation of Le lion et l’oiseau, written and illustrated by Québecoise author Marianne Dubuc. The book has gotten a big boost from mindfulness in education pioneer, Susan Kaiser Greenland, who promotes it as a tool for teaching about connection and compassion. The story is about a bird who has been injured and forced to leave its flock and finds an unlikely friend in Lion who brings him in and keeps him warm through the long cold winter. The book has few words which sets a quiet and reflective tone. Instead it is mainly told through softly drawn illustrations that leave us craving for all the coziness that a loving lion has to offer.

Why is this book so mindful?

With few words, this story is to be appreciated by observing the quiet moments and all that changes through time. This story is about opening the heart, connecting and letting go.

After reading this book? Create a cozy space and discuss what allows us to feel safe and comforted.

Cookies – Bite Size Life Lessons (ages 5-9)

By Amy Krausz Rosenthal

This book uses cookies, a subject that all children can appreciate, to teach us about human nature. It is an excellent way to help kids understand that being a kind person is not always easy especially when faced with something as tempting as a cookie. “Envy means, I can’t stop looking at your cookie out of the corner of my eye- it looks so much better than my cookie” and Loyal means that even though the new person has a much bigger cookie, I’m sticking by you and your little cookies because you’re my very best friend”. The life lessons contrast our lower-levelled thoughts with more mature pro-social behaviour in a way that is amusing and surprisingly not at all preachy.

Why is this book so mindful?

Being mindful is difficult- it requires a lot of human strength to override our reptilian brain and this is why mindfulness needs to be practiced. This book illustrates the difficulty of overcoming temptation and relishing in moments of shared joy.

After reading this book: Practice mindful eating with blueberries or chocolate, or maybe even some warm cookies, fresh out of the oven, that you've just made together.

Owl Babies (ages 3-8)

By Martin Waddell

Illustrated by Partrick Benson

This treasure of a book is full of vulnerability! Three owl siblings, Sarah, Percy, and Bill await the return of their mother who has disappeared in the night. During this disturbing time of uncertainty, Sarah reassures her siblings (and herself) that their mom will be home soon, Percy is clearly unsure but is following Sarah's lead whereas little Bill is unable to move beyond his fear and repeats over and over again "I want my mommy!". The narration is slow and flows like the deep breaths we might take to help calm us in stressful situations. When I read this book to children, they are so always absorbed by the relatable tension so expertly portrayed in this book, a tension that is somewhat relieved by the cathartic recognition of underlying fears.

Why is this book so mindful?

Shifting our focus as needed in a given situation is an important part of emotional development and is practiced with mindful self-reflection. Noticing and acknowledging our feelings like young Bill does in the story is important for self-growth while learning and practicing positive self-talk like the older siblings is how we achieve balance.

After reading this book: Discuss moments in your life when you reacted like each of the characters in the story.

I Am a Bunny (ages 2-5)

By Ole Risom

Being outdoors in a natural setting can shift us quickly into a mindful state (here are some theories as to why) and we see its effects on a sweet bunny in this classic children’s book. We follow Nicholas throughout a year as he chases butterflies, watches birds, eats berries, stands under a toadstool in the rain and snuggles into bed for the long winter. This is one of those rare books that is so precious in its simplicity.

What’s so mindful about it?

Many kids can relate to being overtaken by a sense of wonder when they are out in nature. They have perhaps also noticed the benefits that this can have on their body and mind. This book is all about stopping and smelling the flowers and appreciating the world around us.

After reading this book: Get outside and practice gratitude by pointing out beauty around you! Find something in your environment that you never noticed before, ask questions like "how did it get to be here?" "What is it made of?" "What does it feel like?" "What does it smell like". You can do this with things you find in nature, or even every day objects around your home.

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