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5 Kids’ Books Centered Around Buddhist Teachings

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The Children’s Book Review | October 18, 2019

One does not have to be a Buddhist to appreciate Buddhism and its teachings. One of the most profound and impactful books I read as I was becoming an adult was An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, written by the Dalai Lama and edited by Nicholas Vreeland. I still have my copy, and the cover alone, with his warm and smiling face, resonates with unequivocal happiness—the life fulfilling kind. Forever changed, his lessons have stayed with me, and, now as a mother, I aim to teach essential life lessons to my own three children. I want to be their Guru (so to speak), knowing that, in reality, there is so much more I will learn from them. I will be their shining light, and they will be mine. We’re on this quest together, reading books and seeking true happiness.

5 Kids’ Books Filled with Life Lessons

The following five books are all centered around Buddhist teachings of lovingkindness, friendship, peace, acceptance, self-reflection, and happiness. All welcome and much-needed lessons for this busy and modern world in which we reside.

Buy the BookThe Yeti & the Jolly Lama: A Tale of Friendship

Written by Lama Surya Das

Illustrated by Vivian Mineker

Written by one of the most highly trained American-born lamas in the Tibetan tradition, The Yeti & the Jolly Lama highlights the impact of supportive and caring friends. There is so much to enjoy about this authentic and contemporary retelling of a Tibetan folklore story that is hundreds of years old. When an elderly Lama visits a nearby village in the mountains of the high Himalayas, he finds the villagers hiding behind tightly locked doors in fear of the abominable snowman. Steeped in lovingkindness, the Lama demonstrates through his mindful actions of compassion and generosity, that it is possible to put aside differences. The delightful illustrations only add to this cheery and peaceable picture book.

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Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Sounds True | October 8, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1683643869

Is Nothing Something?: Kids' Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between By Thich Nhat HanhIs Nothing Something? Kids’ Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between

Written by Thich Nhat Hanh

Illustrated by Jessica McClure

Children often say and ask the funniest things. In Is Nothing Something?, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh answers a whole bunch of questions, fulfilling the wonderings of many. Some of the questions are simple, while some are more philosophical. “Why is my brother mean to me?” “How long am I going to live?” Introducing the concept of mindfulness, all of the answers are concise, kid-friendly, compassionate, and wise with an application for daily life. This is a delightful and heartfelt book filled with colorful illustrations. The back matter includes a biography of Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as some tips for mindful breathing and mindful walking.

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Ages 4-8 | Parallax Press | April 2014 | ISBN 978-1-937-00665-5

A Handful of Quiet- Happiness in Four PebblesA Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles

Written by Thich Nhat Hanh

Illustrated by Wietske Vriezen

This is another picture book from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. A Handful of Quiet is one of his best-known meditation practices, developed as part of the Plum Village community’s practice with children. It offers a solid, playful, hands-on approach for introducing the concept of meditation to children. “Practicing pebble meditation can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and can help children deal with difficult emotions.”

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Ages 4-8 | Plum Blossom | 2008 | ISBN 978-1937006211

Everything Is ConnectedEverything is Connected

Written by Jason Gruhl

Illustrated by Ignasi Font

Everything Is Connected illuminates the concept that we are all one—people, animals, gardens, love, bullies, pollution, poverty, peace, hunger, etc. When we understand that everything is connected, we can begin to realize that we are the problem as well as the solution. We can work toward empathy, compassion, and self-reflection. This picture book and it’s striking imagery are wholly relatable and kid-friendly—a colossal undertaking done so well. In Jason Gruhl’s words, “There’s something magical about seeing a child have this “A-ha” moment when they realize that their world is truly bigger than their neighborhood, school, backyard, etc. It’s something you can’t un-learn once you’ve realized it, and it’s a pretty important moment in someone’s life.”

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Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Bala Kids | February 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1611806311

Buy the BookThe Calm Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Wisdom, Compassion and Mindfulness to Read with Your Child

Written by Dharmachari Nagaraja

Nobody should have to go to bed feeling frazzled or anxious. Yet, for many, that’s precisely how the day ends. Dharmachari Nagaraja has been a practicing Buddhist for over 20 years. His warmth and wisdom, combined with his skilled storytelling, lends itself well to this collection of short fables perfect for transitioning from a busy day into a calm and peaceful time of rest. With a focus on mindfulness and compassion, these 18 retellings of ancient Buddhist tales plant the seeds of patience, honesty, authenticity, and generosity. Sweet dreams are sure to follow!

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Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Watkins Publishing | November 14, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1786780805

The header image is from The Yeti & the Jolly Lama (Sounds True, 2019), written by Lama Surya Das and illustrated by Vivian Mineker. The article 5 Kids’ Books Centered Around Buddhist Teachings was curated by The Children’s Book Review and sponsored by Sounds True. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with , , and .

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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