Until recently, I’d never thought about books about mindfulness for kids. However, I’m sure you will agree with me that this is an emotionally volatile time. In one day, sometimes I run the spectrum of what I used to feel in a week/a month/three months/a year. Kids are definitely feeling an influx of stress too, and with that in mind, I want to recommend these books that will support them by celebrating happiness, addressing anxiety, and provide coping strategies.
For the last few months, I have noticed a mindfulness mini-theme while unpacking boxes of new books at the library. They don’t get complicated about it, instead focusing on inspiring kids to think about what they love, and what makes them happy. (You know, à la The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.”) Actually, reading these books actually inspired me to check in with myself about what little things cheer me up and inspire me — you know, like short, vividly illustrated self-help books. Also, while these nine picture books are about mindfulness and coping strategies, if you are more interested in books to explain anxiety to kids, we recently posted a list of books aimed at anxious kids. Above all, I hope that this list helps to explore new ways of experiencing joy.
Layla’s Happiness by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Seven-year-old Layla loves a lot of things: nighttime, purple plums, eating spaghetti without a fork, and listening to her parents tell stories and read poems. Both whimsical and firmly rooted in a realistic city setting, this deceptively simple story is packed with beautiful, small moments to cherish. Moreover, Layla’s sunshiny view of existence is infectious, and will inspire kids to share what excites them.
Happy: A Children’s Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards and Katie Hickey
Alongside bright, beautiful illustrations, this book aims to suggest how best to take in every moment and pursue happiness. Each page describes a way of being mindful- from noticing a food’s flavor to relaxing our limbs. To be honest, I felt calmer after reading this book, and it helpfully includes questions and movement suggestions.
Meditation Station by Susan B. Katz and Anait Semirdzhyan
This is an easy resource for preschoolers and younger kids. A little bear gets overstimulated while visiting an exciting train station, and so it begins to meditate and take breaths. Using a train station metaphor, it support kids in learning to maintain balance through calming techniques.
What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers
This is a book about kindness, resilience, and understanding. A father and daughter gather their tools and set to work building a house to hold in love, a fortress to keep out enemies, and a table where they can sit for discussions with friends. Jeffers’s art is stunning as always, and each page is radiant.
Where Happiness Begins by Eva Eland
A follow up to Eland’s When Sadness Is at Your Door, this picture book engages immediately with minimalist illustrations, simple text, and highlighter-bright colors. “[Happiness] often has disguises and goes by different names,” the book suggests, and I’d agree — sometimes happiness feels very far away from us, and this book makes sure to remind readers that it is still around us, somewhere, no matter how well hidden it seems.
Hey Warrior by Karen Young and Norvile Dovidonyte
This provides great, easy-to-process information about anxiety. It’s aimed at helping to empower kids by teaching them what anxiety is and why it makes them feel a certain way. Additionally, it is written in an emotionally accessible way and can be used for children of various ages. There are even useful coping strategies.
Quiet! by Kate Alizadeh
This book is all about noises and paying attention to their cozy rhythms — sounds like a bubbling pan on a stove, a cat chewing its food, or the whirring of a laptop. I love the message to toddlers that interesting sounds are everywhere, if only they take some quiet time to notice. Plus, the curly-headed kid really gave me something to relate to because I had that exact hair style as a toddler, no word of a lie.
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard, Daniel Rechtschaffen, and Holly Clifton-Brown
Learn your ABCs and take deep, calming breaths at the same time. It’s a total win-win! With accessible breathing techniques like Alligator Breath, Redwood Breath, and Superhero Breath, the book supplies imaginative prompts that will calm kids down while making them smile.
All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia
A young girl learns about the cycle of life as she and her grandpa work in the garden together, planting flowers and vegetables, and then later pulling vegetables to eat. As a result, her grandpa teaches her about the cycle of life, demonstrating that there are circles everywhere — the sun, bicycle wheels, and even the circles of our eyes. Along with the lovely, gentle text, the illustrations are gorgeous and Garcia deservedly won a 2018 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for them.
And there you go — find these books, dim the lights, sit in your fave reading spot, and then relax. I promise, you and your fave kids will definitely enjoy these relaxing bedtime reads.