Mindfulness, happiness and well-being: 6 children's books to try
Published on: 09 October 2018 Author: Diwa Tharan Sanders
It's so important for all of us to take a moment for a deep breath - and that includes children, too! Author Diwa Tharan Sanders chooses six books to help...
1. The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas
If you're having one of those 'feeling all sorts' kind of days, the Colour Monster can help!
The story starts with the Colour Monster feeling confused and muddled. As he is mindfully encouraged to take a closer look at these feelings, five different emotions - happiness, sadness, anger, fear and calm - emerge.
I imagine that reading these emotions out loud and acting them out makes for a fun awareness activity for kids. Well, the Colour Monster does exactly that and then a sixth feeling is revealed! Can you guess what it is?
This is a sweet, colourful book that explores our feelings through the use of colour and expressive examples. It also carries an earnest message: it is important to listen to how we feel, acknowledge our emotions, and feel safe enough to be able to express or share them with others. A valuable book to have in any home or school and definitely one worth reading.
2. Yoga Babies by Fearne Cotton and Sheena Dempsey
This book is adorable! Yoga is, in my opinion, one of the best mindfulness practices to cultivate. I love yoga and I often think that the very first yoga class I attended at the age of seven had more of an impact on me than I know. So there's no surprise that this delightful yoga book for children has its place on this list.
There is so much fun to be had with this book. As you read it out to your child, you could have your very own yoga class at the same time. I love how Fearne has selected all the fundamental poses of yoga and presented them in a simple and playful style.
The Yoga Babies are shown in different surroundings, cultures and homes, yet I'm convinced you would be able to relate to most, if not all, of these situations, so universal are children in their behaviour. I especially liked the scene in which Sophie's mummy leads them onto the mat after a hectic day. 'Now deep breath and relax' - a brilliant way to shake the stress of the day away!
3. ABC For Me: ABC Yoga by Christiane Engel
Another great, fun, interactive yoga book for children, this time working through the alphabet while learning about animals and yoga poses. That is a triple win, if you ask me!
This book teaches children about animals and objects by depicting them in yoga poses with rhymes that are inspiring and also entertaining. There is a lot of fun to be had for the family or in a classroom as children try out these poses. It's a fantastic way to get them moving, promote body awareness and mindful breathing, and develop their listening, communication and motor skills.
I only wish I had been able to read this book with my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew, as I know he would have been delighted to wiggle himself into any one of these simplified yoga poses. I can imagine that he would have loved being a Fox or a Shark.
4. I AM PEACE by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds
I love this book and think it's a wonderful read for adults, too, because it reminds us that despite any worry, chaos or stress that comes our way, we can always find peace by taking the time to turn inward.
This delightful book uses practical mindfulness tools such as relating to our breath, taking a moment to feel present in our bodies, and positive affirmation to usher peaceful energy and calm into each moment.
'My thoughts begin to settle. My mind begins to clear. I am Peace.'
Reading this line really did bring me to a place of calm and contentment. In reading I AM PEACE, we are reminded to stay in the 'now' and that being present allows our thoughts to focus, our breaths to slow and our bodies to relax. The repeated use of positive affirmations such as 'I am' creates a feeling of empowerment as just by saying the words, 'I am peace' a feeling of peace is felt within.
5. Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen
I have a soft spot for poetry and reading this beautifully written and illustrated book of mindfulness poems by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen was a sheer delight. I absolutely adored the clever use of nature and animal analogies to describe thoughts, emotions, meditation and mindful breathing practices.
Floating leaves, passing clouds, rivers, eggs in a nest or colourful fish... these are just some of the examples of the parallels that Kate draws so effortlessly between the state of our minds and the natural world. I have started using her 'hidden egg in a nest' description during my own meditation practice.
This connection to nature is a wonderful reflection of how we are linked to Mother Earth in so many ways and it is also a creative way to explain concepts like mindfulness, meditation and breath-work to children and younger readers. The lovely illustrations draw you into a reflective, peaceful, meditative world that truly allows one to just breathe and be.
6. Kaya's Heart Song by Diwa Tharan Sanders and Nerina Canzi
My book Kaya's Heart Song is a mindfulness story about a little girl who hears about a 'heart song' from her Mama, but is unable to hear hers. As she plays in the jungle, she discovers her heart song and unlocks a magical adventure with elephants, a carousel and a group of her favourite friends.
The essence of the story is to teach children about being in the present moment and learning to calm their minds, and when there is silence their heart song can be heard.
The stunning illustrations by Nerina Canzi bring magic to the story and this is also a really delightful book to have in a yoga or mindfulness class at schools or at home. As Mama says, everyone has a heart song - 'you just have to learn how to listen for it'.
When Diwa is not writing, she is busy with Tulamala, a brand of crystal-bead mala necklaces that she owns, holding breathwork workshops and leading yoga classes in her community.