Growing Reader

Namaste, Young Readers:
Picture Books That Introduce Mindfulness and Meditation to Kids

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Christopher Futcher, E+ Collection/Getty Images

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.

  • You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses

    by Tae-Eun Yoo

    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.

  • Puppy Mind

    by Andrew Jordan Nance, illustrated by Jim Durk

    Buddhist monks describe it as a monkey mind but I love this puppy brain analogy even better, 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 kindness treat that helps us enjoy the present moment. This book is spot-on for introducing mindfulness and breath.

  • What Does It Mean to Be Present?

    by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

    Learn what being present specifically means: listening carefully when other people are speaking, savoring each bite of your delicious food, or closing your eyes and being still enough to hear your inner voice. Paired with beautiful illustrations, kids will find many examples of what being present looks, feels, and sounds like.

  • Visiting Feelings

    by Lauren Rubenstein, JD, PsyD, illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger

    This book is not only brilliant, I’d say it’s essential to growing a child’s emotional intelligence. It helps kids understand that all emotions are okay, even the uncomfortable ones, and that we can be mindfully aware of our emotions and welcome each without judgement. “Do you have a feeling that’s visiting today? Can you open your door and invite it to play? Can you ask what it wants, and then check it out?”

  • Sitting Still Like a Frog

    by Eline Snel

    Snel masterfully guides children in developing presence of mind, heart, and body with her accessible, imaginative visualizations. Just like a frog jumps, stops, and sits very still, observing everything around him, so can kids. And just like a motionless frog, a child’s belly rises and falls. These guided meditations come on a CD with the book or can be found here for free.

  • Good Morning Yoga

    by Mariam Gates

    In this gorgeous picture book, readers learn breathing, easy poses, and body awareness. For example, a child in a hat, coat, and colorful scarf stands on the top of a snowy peak, eyes closed, hands at sides. “As I breathe in, as I breathe out, I press down through my feet and stretch my spine so it is long. I roll my shoulders back and rest my hands at my sides.” The opposite page reads: “Today I’m also a mountain, quiet and still, …” The book ends with a guided prompt to help kids start the day with how they want to feel. Watch the author read the story in this video.

  • Meditation Is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids

    by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Sally Rippin

    The ideas in this book of meditations for kids each have a specific focus whether it’s clarity, kindness, relaxation, wisdom, control, or openness. The author encourages being kind to yourself and finding out how meditation can work for you even if it’s in short spurts or by walking around. “Imagine a glowing ball of white light at the top of your head. It has the power to clear your bad moods, hurt feelings, and worries. See it expand and pour down into you…“

  • A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles

    by Thich Nhat Hanh

    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.”

  • The Sound of Silence

    by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo

    Yoshio’s city is like a symphony with its many different sounds. But is it possible for him to find silence? As Yoshio searches his city, noticing every sound, we also are immersed in the vibrant visual details and evocative sensory descriptions in this lovely story about being fully present to each moment.

  • Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids

    by Carolyn Clarke

    Relaxing leads to a mindfulness, or awareness of the sensations in our bodies and hearts. These guided imagery stories are designed to assist children as they quiet their minds and relax their bodies for sleep and are meant for adults to read with children. The “Hot Air Balloon Trip” is one of my daughter’s favorites. “…Take in a big breath, and then blow out, filling up your hot air balloon. Feel your hot air balloon lift up of the ground and float into the sky . . . “

  • Moody Cow Meditates

    by Kerry Lee MacLean

    This story introduces meditation with a cow’s very bad (but relatable and funny) day and an activity you can do at home. After his bad day, Peter’s grandfather makes him a calming, glitter-filled mind jar to focus awareness, find his peaceful center, pay attention to breath, and accept his feelings. After reading the story, make your own mind jar and try the book’s meditation for your own mindfulness practice.