Kids books are a fantastic mechanism to start the discussion with young readers on “what is mindfulness” and ways to incorporate it into lives.
Sharing the practice of creating mindful energy with children is an amazing gift with a myriad of benefits, and as the mindfulness movement is growing, so is the research supporting these benefits, among which includes stress and anxiety reduction, improved concentration and focus, and increased general happiness. The primary principle of mindfulness is to sharpen one’s awareness of the present through breath, meditation, and conscious thinking—this is a concept that can seem abstract, making it difficult to explain and practice for children and adults alike. But in this age of technology, busy schedules, and increased anxiety, the importance of understanding and practicing mindfulness for the well-being of ourselves, our children and our society cannot be overstated.
We are thrilled to share 5 wonderful books that can help young readers get started on their own journey to practicing mindfulness.
By Jon J. Muth
The Three Questions is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book that emphasizes that the best time to do things is now, the most important one is the one you’re with, and the right thing to do is to do good for the one you’re with. It’s a simple but powerful message that teaches readers that the most precious gift we can offer someone is our undivided attention.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Nikolai wants to be the best person he can be, but is often unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. With stunning watercolors and a text that resounds with universal truths, this award-winning artist has based his first original story on one by Leo Tolstoy, transforming it into a timeless fable for young readers.
Ages 4-8 | Scholastic | April 2002 | ISBN: 978-0-439-19996-4
By Dharmachari Nagaraja
The Buddha’s Apprentice is a collection of short fables perfect for starting discussions on the principles of kindness, compassion, wisdom, and self-control. The short story format is perfect for rushed bedtime routines and will allow time for both reading and discussion.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Your child is sure to be delighted by this new collection of magical tales inspired by the teachings of the Buddha. Each story is based on ancient Buddhist folktales beloved by children for generations and will help your child to develop their knowledge and understanding as they learn to become the ‘Buddha’s apprentice’. Characters and situations that are both funny and compelling will draw your child into stories that explore important Buddhist themes – such as behaving with compassion or managing negative thoughts. From a brave monkey queen who teaches a king how to be a better ruler to a rude boar who needs to learn some manners, these stories will enchant every child.
Ages 4-8 | Watkins Publishing | June 2013 | ISBN 978-1-780-28514-6
By Paul Showers, Illustrated by Aliki
A quiet walk can often be reflective, healing, and enlightening but can also feel unnatural to children who like to share what they observe and ask a million questions at the same time. In The Listening Walk, readers are encouraged to take a walk and not talk or rush, just be aware of the beauty of the sounds around, which will lead to even new discoveries and rejuvenation.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Put on your socks and shoes — and don’t forget your ears! We’re going on a listening walk. Shhhhh. Do not talk. Do not hurry. Get ready to fill your ears with a world of wonderful and surprising sounds.
Ages 4-8 | HarperCollins | February 1993 | ISBN 978-0-064-43322-8
Is Nothing Something? Kids’ Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between
By Thich Nhat Hanh, Illustrated by Jessica McClure
Is Nothing Something? is a delightful book filled with answers to questions, some more philosophical than others, that every child wonders. The answers are concise, compassionate, and wise and are practical for application in daily life.
Publisher’s Synopsis: A collection of Thich Nhat Hanh’s answers to the most universal and illuminating questions posed by children. Is Nothing Something? begins with the most basic questions and progresses through issues with which we all wrestle with, no matter our age. “A good question doesn’t need to be long,” says Thich Nhat Hanh. “If it comes from your heart, it can help a lot of people. These questions are real questions that real children have asked. Each page presents one question with a direct response to hard problems children encounter in daily life, including: “I just moved to a new school. How do I make friends?”, “Why is my brother mean to me?” and, “How do I know if I really love somebody?” With full color illustrations by Jessica McClure, and a complete children’s biography of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with basic, kid-friendly instructions for mindful breathing and mindful walking. Both humorous and profound, Is Nothing Something? will help adults plant the seeds of mindfulness in the young children in their lives. It’s the perfect resource for kids with questions, adults looking to answer them, and anyone with questions of their own.
Ages 4-8 | Parallax Press | April 2014 | ISBN 978-1-937-00665-5
By Rana DiOrio, Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
What Does it Mean to Be Present? demonstrates practical ways to practice being present. Bright illustrations and lyrical text concisely and delightfully deliver the message of the importance of now.
Publisher’s Synopsis: This refreshing, vibrant picture book engages all of the senses to demonstrate the myriad of ways a child can seize the moment. The story sparks meaningful discussions about the important gift of appreciation, giving children and adults alike the opportunity to live more fully and richly.
Ages 4-8| Little Pickle Press | July 2010 | ISBN 978-0-984-08068-7
This list of kids books on mindfulness, kindness, and compassion was curated by Gi Hallmark. Follow along with our Picture Books and Social Graces categories to discover more great books just like the books in this list.