Mindfulness books for kids are all the rage to teach children to be calm, present and focused. And guess what? We’ve curated a list of our favorites. Check it out!
Mindfulness Books for Kids: An Introduction
“I DON’T LIKE THIS DINNER!” Bo shouted. It was quite a tantrum, because - gasp! - I was making him eat chicken and not his beloved macaroni and cheese.
His face was tomato red, cheeks smeared with tears. Then suddenly, Bo threw his glasses on the floor, squeezed his fists tightly together at his sides… and began to take deep breaths. The inhales and exhales were shaky at first, and he did it super fast like he was trying to defy everything I’d taught him from our exercises. But eventually those breaths slowed… and so did his tantrum.
I was floored.
To be perfectly honest, this level of self-regulation doesn’t happen often — after all, Bo is only four. Our mindfulness practice is a work in progress, but every so often, I see results, and I let me tell you — I will gladly take these small victories!
So how did this happen??
Mindfulness Books for Kids Help Control those Big Emotions
There is a growing movement to get mindfulness books for kids out into the world, and I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. As someone who has experienced challenges with anxiety, I didn’t begin meditating until I was an adult, and I wish it had been sooner. The benefits have been tremendous.
I want my kids to learn what I wish I had learned as a child, and now, with this movement spreading rapidly from coast to coast, I have books to help me help my boys learn the art of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the notion of being wholly engaged in the present with full acceptance and without judgment of our feelings. It is a mental state achieved by being wholly focused on the here and now, allowing you to calmly notice and acknowledge your emotions.
Why is cultivating a mindfulness practice so beneficial to kids?
Mindfulness is proven to help reduce anxiety. It promotes happiness, empathy, confidence and self-regulation.
When we help children focus on rhythmic, mindful breathing, we teach them to pay attention to the present moment. This helps kids cultivate the ability to address their big emotions while at the same time teaching them that however uncomfortable their feelings may be, they too, shall pass. If we can stay present and fully engaged in what we are doing at any given time, it helps us refrain from feeling overwhelmed by, or engrossed in, negative thoughts.
Mindfulness is scientifically proven to have positive effects on both the brain and body, and when kids learn to be kinder to themselves, they are more inclined to be kind to those around them too.
So how do we foster mindfulness in our kids?
Use Mindfulness Books for Kids to Teach Breathing Exercises and the Importance of Staying Present
Read with your kids! The children’s literature industry has wholeheartedly embraced the benefits of mindfulness for our little ones, and there are currently so many stellar books to help guide you on this journey. Mindfulness books for kids will:
explain the notion of mindfulness in a manner that is age appropriate for children;
help you establish breathing practices with your kids by teaching different mindfulness exercises, enabling children to manage their bodies, breath and big emotions;
teach them yoga and other movement exercises to help them achieve calm and focus; and
convey the importance of focusing on the present moment.
And don’t forget that we, the adults, need to model mindfulness for our kids! So put down your phones, engage in meaningful exchanges with your little ones, spend time doing things that require focus, and try to recognize — and then change — distracting habits.
I promise that if you begin to establish a mindfulness practice in your home by incorporating some of these books and exercises into your reading routines, you will eventually be able to stop those tantrums — about not having macaroni and cheese, not wanting to put on that coat, not wanting to buckle that seatbelt — before they get the best of all of you.
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Mindfulness Books For Kids - Breathing & Mindfulness Exercises
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems, by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Anna Laitinen: This book of poetry is absolutely stunning. From listening to thunder crash, imagining yourself as a river of peace, and watching waves drifting on water, this book beautifully helps children visualize and connect with the natural world as they begin to learn mindfulness.
My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing, by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor and illustrated by Michelle Polizzi: This is such a fabulous, unique interactive book that allows kids to learn how their breathing can steer away bad thoughts and bring in happy ones. It is an empowering story, one we love for the way it speaks so authentically to children and helps them recognize they have tremendous control over their emotional being.
I am Peace, by Peter Reynolds and illustrated by Susan Verde: This dynamic duo can do no wrong. I love the way this book helps children focus on the present moment and encourages self awareness. I am Peace reminds us to breathe and to use our senses to ground us in the here and now. It includes a fabulous guided mediation for children, as well as an author’s note on the benefits of mindfulness. We also adore I am Yoga by the same author and illustrator!
Meditate with Me: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Journey, by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Margarita Surnaite: This is an excellent book to guide your kids through a mindfulness meditation. In simple language children will be able to understand, the book provides step-by-step directions for a calming, whole-body practice you can do with your kids at home. I love its simple but powerful repeating refrain: “Breathe in, and fill your whole body. Breathe out, and relax your whole body.”
Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere, by Kira Wiley and illustrated by Anni Betts: I absolutely adore the exercises in this book! Breathe Like a Bear contains short breathing exercises that encourage kids to be present, and it includes imagery that is so accessible to children, such as blowing out candles and imagining they are sleepy lions just waking up from a long slumber. Best of all, due to their brevity, these are fabulous exercises for little ones with short attention spans and are easy to practice anytime, any place.
A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles, by Thich Naht Hanh: This is a fabulous book parents and educators can use to introduce children to meditation. All you need is a quiet space and four pebbles in order to practice “pebble meditation.” The pebbles symbolize flowers, mountains, water and space, with each representing important character traits that we want to celebrate and embody. This book is a bit more challenging and is better suited for mid to older elementary aged kids.
Sitting Still Like a Frog, by Eline Snel, with a forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn: This is a fabulous introduction to mindfulness and meditation for both parents and children alike. The book includes simple mindfulness exercises while also describing how mindfulness-based practices can help children self regulate and manage emotions, plus improve focus, anxiety and anger. Included with the book is a CD of exercises spoken by Myla Kabat-Zinn, the wife of Jon Kabat-Zinn, both of whom popularized the notion of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
Mindfulness Books for Kids - Yoga
Yoga Frog, by Nora Carpenter and illustrated by Mark Chambers: Frog adores yoga, and if you get this fantastic book for your children, your kids will too! Frog will help your kids learn basic yoga poses, from warm up to cool down, teaching little ones how to do mountain and chair pose, downward dog and bridge poses, and ending with happy baby and more to help quiet you down for the day. Such a winner, and we can’t rave about this one enough!
Good Night Yoga: A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story, by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder: This is such a unique bedtime story, telling the story of the world and how all the natural things in our environment get ready to go to sleep at night. Goodnight Yoga teaches children simple yoga poses to relax them before bedtime and it helps little ones focus on self soothing and calming both the body and the mind. A gem! We also love Good Morning Yoga by this same team!
Yoga Bug: Simple Poses for Little Ones, by Sarah Jane Hinder: If you want a board book to teach mindfulness, this is the one for you! Perfect for infants and toddlers, this sweet book uses butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles and more to teach your children yoga and mindfulness. It is fun, imaginative, and playful, all while teaching your little ones ten basic poses and movements to help build a foundation in your smallest children.
ABC Yoga, by Christiane Engel: We love alphabet books for toddlers here at Happily Ever Elephants, and what better way to learn the ABCs than through a yoga practice? This vibrant book pairs yoga poses with alphabetized animals and objects, with rhymes that explain how little ones can mimic the animals’ poses. There are 26 yoga poses named to correspond to the alphabet, and a helpful parent guide in the back identifies each pose by its proper name. Such fun!
You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses, by Taeeun Yoo: Flutter like a butterfly! Roar like a lion! Hiss like a snake! This gentle introduction to yoga is perfect for children, with great illustrations and easy to follow text that allows kids new to yoga to follow along easily. At once artful and lyrical, we love the way this book encourages both movement and imagination.
Mindfulness Books for Kids - Focusing on the Present & Self Empowerment
Quiet, by Tomie dePaola: This is one of those beautiful, contemplative books that reminds us how we are not only all intertwined but deeply connected to the natural world as well. With life in such a hurry, sometimes we need to take a moment to sit and just be… and this book encourages that exact behavior. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder to sit calmly with our breathe and focus on the present, and this lovely book reminds us just how special — and important — mindful behavior can be.
I am a Warrior Goddess, by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Carme Lemniscates: This stunning, empowering book is a beauty for young girls (and boys too!), showing how we can delight in everyday miracles, greet our world with kindness, and train our minds to be strong without having to display aggression. Every day we are given opportunities to make positive impacts, and this book conveys this message through the beautiful interplay between prose and illustrations.
Now, by Antoinette Portis: This book is deceptively simple but oh-so-powerful. It takes readers on a journey with a lively child who is showing us her favorite things – all of the things she is recognizing and noticing in the present. I love the way this story truly encourages kids to engage with the world around them and relish in life’s small, every day miracles. A lovely story to remind us of the importance of staying grounded in the here and now.
What Does it Mean to Be Present, by Rana DiOiro and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler: Oh how I wish everyone could read this book! This sweet story reminds us that being present isn’t just about being in a room or simply showing up. Instead, it is about listening, noticing when someone needs help, waiting patiently for a turn, and focusing on what is happening before you at a particular moment in time. A fabulous walk through of being present with a group of children, this is a valuable book to teach this important to little ones!
Mindfulness Books for Kids - Stories About Mindfulness in Action
Anh’s Anger, by Gail Silver and illustrated by Christianne Kromer: This is a powerful book about a young boy who blows up after his grandfather tells him to stop playing because it is dinner time. When Anh is sent to his room to sit with his anger, the reader is taken on Anh’s journey as he grapples with this big emotion and eventually learns how mindful breathing can help transform and control his feelings. This is such a good read for those of us parents and teachers dealing with tantrums on the regular!
The Lemonade Hurricane, by Licia Moreli and illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris: Emma doesn’t like hurricanes. But her little brother Henry IS a hurricane, never sitting still and always storming through the house. By showing him how to sit calmly and breathe, Emma is able to tame hurricane Henry. This is a great story to convey how mindful breathing can calm even the most turbulent kids.
Moody Cow Meditates, by Kerry Lee MacLean: Peter the cow is having a rotten day. So rotten, in fact, that he misses the bus, falls off his bike, and loses his temper, too. To make matters even worse, the other kids have started to tease Peter and call him Moody Cow! Leave it to Peter’s grandfather to save the say, teaching Moody Cow how to settle his thoughts and how to calm down through a simple exercise. We love this one for the way it shows meditation in action, showing kids exactly how meditation can help them handle common, negative emotions.
The Happiest Tree, a Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran: Meena, a young girl, is horribly embarrassed by her clumsiness and lack of coordination. She wants to be in the school play, but she’s nervous. What does she do? She begins a yoga practice, and as it grows, so does her confidence. With a simple introduction to Indian culture and a plot showing how yoga can be used to help kids with common challenges, this one is a winner!