Baby & Toddler
Namaste, Young Readers:
Picture Books That Introduce Mindfulness and Meditation to Kids
by Melissa Taylor
Mindfulness helps build self-awareness, awareness of others, and awareness of the world. It’s about being fully present, paying close attention to the moment we’re in. The benefits of mindfulness are numerous. Not just for us but for our kids as well. A mindfulness practice helps alleviate stress, worry, and anger, and improves focus and sleep. Here are some wonderful children’s books to introduce mindfulness and meditation to kids.
Look and Be Grateful
Tomie DePaola’s signature aesthetic — soft lines filled in with gentle colors — pairs dreamily with this quiet celebration of gratitude for the present moment. From the minute he wakes up to a new day, a young boy takes notice of the simple but profound beauties around him: a rising sun, a tiny ladybug, a ripe orange, and so much more.
(Ages 0 – 3)
Calm with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
What better way to learn new habits than with a beloved character? In Calm with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle’s familiar creations return to help kids and parents remember to pause, take a breath, and get in touch with their feelings. Simple text and Carle’s trademark illustrations work together to gently communicate stress-reduction techniques and encourage self-expression for even the youngest of readers.
(Ages 3 – 5)
You Are a Lion!
Yoga practice is about being mindful, present to your body and its movements. Kids will learn basic yoga in this cheerful book that turns the yoga poses into animal movements. Whether a lion, cat, snake, butterfly, or something else, it’s fun to pretend to be animals — it not only benefits a child’s focus and range of motion but also his imagination.
(Ages 3 – 5)
Mindfulness has countless individual benefits, of course, but it’s also a helpful skill when it comes to having empathy for and getting along with others, even when things don’t go our way. Carol Thompson’s Deep Breaths centers on best friends Dolly and Jack, who get into a giant argument and cycle through a whole slew of feelings. But with mindfulness and breathwork, Dolly and Jack figure out how to manage their emotions and come back together.
(Ages 3 – 7)
Buddhist monks describe it as a monkey mind, but I love this puppy brain analogy even more, especially for kids. Just like a puppy, our minds can wander to the future or dig up memories from the past. And just like yelling doesn’t work for training a puppy, neither does it work for calming our minds. But, if we take three deep breaths, it’s like giving our puppy brain a treat that helps us enjoy the present moment. This book is spot-on for introducing mindfulness and breath.
(Ages 3 – 7)
Before he became the star of his own book, Meddy Teddy was something of an Instagram sensation. The yoga pants-wearing, bendable teddy bear can hold virtually any yoga pose, and in this cheerful picture book, Meddy introduces young readers and their families to multiple poses, until they can confidently complete the whole sequence on their own. Meddy also teaches his forest friends how to approach life’s snafus with mindfulness. It’s an ideal resource for integrating yoga and mindfulness into your family’s busy routines.
(Ages 4 – 8)
May All People and Pigs Be Happy
Claire’s stuffed-animal friend Pigalina teaches her a simple meditation to help her cultivate compassion and goodwill for herself and all living creatures. From the Buddhist tradition, the loving-kindness meditation is adaptable and open to all; it’s also a popular self-care technique noted in reducing stress. As one Texas-based head of school wrote, “This book has the power to change the world, one heart at a time.”
(Ages 4 – 8)
Meditate with Me
Mariam Gates, the founder of Kid Power Yoga, offers a soothing, step-by-step guide to help children (and parents!) relax, slow busy minds, and identify their emotions. Five animal friends repeat the book’s breath-focused refrain, providing an accessible model and powerful tools for embodiment and self-regulation. Tweens and teens can also establish a mindfulness practice with Gates’s guide for middle grade readers, This Moment Is Your Life (and So Is This One).
(Ages 4 – 8)
A Handful of Quiet
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and leader in the mindfulness movement. He wrote this book to help kids connect with nature and increase their awareness, concentration, and calm using scripts, activities, and ideas that parents can try with children. Each of the four pebbles in the meditations represents something for children to visualize: a flower, a mountain, still water, and space. “Breathing in, I see myself as a MOUNTAIN. Breathing out, I feel SOLID.”
(Ages 5 – 9)
Calm: Mindfulness for Kids
Mindfulness isn’t meant to be limited to a few quiet minutes per day. Rather, it’s a practice that children can tap into throughout life’s everyday moments, from eating mindfully to exploring nature with focus and intention. A teacher for over thirty years, Wynne Kinder presents mindfulness activities that help kids become more appreciative of the world around them, giving them greater peace of mind. The book also includes space for journaling to encourage important moments of reflection.
(Ages 6 – 9)
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2021.