Children can learn mindfulness from us and from books. Which is why I’ve made this big list of the best mindfulness picture books for kids, many of which include helpful mantras and meditations.
Mindfulness is an important life strategy proven to reduce stress and develop positivity. It’s being aware of all that the present moment is — our feelings, the sensations in our bodies, the sounds, sights, smells of the world around us, and so on.
If you’re interested in a mindfulness activity, visit this post about teaching kids ages six and up to knit. Once your child gets the hang of the stitch, the process is very meditative and mindful.
The Big List of Mindfulness Books for Kids
Here and Now by Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale
I love this book so much! Readers learn about being present in your body as well as being aware of the world around you. It’s a guided meditation in a picture book! “The book is in your lap, or in your hands, or in someone else’s.” It continues with you noticing your bottom, and your feet on the floor. Then it moves to an awareness of the world… “Right here, right now, while you are reading this book, many, many things are happening: Rain is forming in the belly of a cloud. An ant has finished its home on the other side of the planet.” Gorgeous artwork. Important concepts.
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
This is the goal — to feel the ground, take a deep breath, to be still, to say what you feel, and so on. Reading this book shows kids what mindfulness is. It truly is peace. Reynolds’ whimsical watercolor illustrations make the concepts visually appealing and accessible.
Breathe with Me by Mariam Gates
I love how Gates makes breathing accessible to children with powerful imagery. For example, when you’re sleepy in the morning and can’t wake up — try doing Rainbow Breath. Illustrated with a girl sitting under a rainbow we read about Rainbow Breath:
“Sit up and let your spine grow tall.
Bring your arms out straight to
the sides, palms down.
Inhale and sweep your arms up over your head palm to palm.
Exhale and bring your arms back
straight out to the sides, palms down.
Repeat three times.“
Or when you’re nervous about something new, try Dandelion Breath. (I LOVE the idea of blowing a dandelion, don’t you?) The book has five different ways to think about your breathing in total. And I think they’re all so brilliantly relatable for kids.
Now by Antoinette Portis
This little girl knows how to live in the moment. “This is my favorite hole (this one) // because it’s the one I’m digging.” She appreciates the now. “That is my favorite cloud // because it’s the one I am watching.” We can learn a lot from her gratitude for the present moment. “This is my favorite now // because it’s the one I am having // with you.”
Listen by Gaby Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
What if you listened to each sound asks a little girl? Listen with her through her day starting with the noisy street, then at school, into the rain and wind, and all the way until bedtime. “Listen past the crunch of gravel and the scrape of chalk.// Can you hear new words? Listen to each sound. Some pop, like quick and snappy, while others stretch, like looong and leisurely. Listen.” She implores you to listen, repeating it frequently throughout the book. She says we must stop and listen to what’s outside and around us as well as what’s inside us, too.
Puppy Mind by Andrew Jorda Nance, illustrated by Jim Durk
Zen monks call it a monkey mind but I think kids can really understand puppy mind better. (This also explains the ADHD “squirrel” brain.) Like a puppy who is always wandering off, our brains can do that, too. To keep our brains focused on the present, we can breathe. Lovely illustrations throughout this simple book that gives kids a powerful metaphor.
What Does It Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Practical examples with real children show you what being present in the moment looks and feels like. Very well done and relatable for kids.
The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros, illustrated by Amy Bates
Metaphorical and wise, the boy visits the sea; they share much in common. Sometimes the sea is dark and dangerous and so is the boy. When he listens to the sea, he hears the sea say to dream. As the boy grows, he asks more unanswerable questions but the sea has answers and it tells him as an adult to simply be. Repeated sentences give the story a comforting, wave-like structure.
Mindful Kids: 50 Activities for Calm, Focus and Peace by Whitney Stewart and Mina Braun
Beautiful illustrations with diversity (!!) give kids 50 games, visualizations, and exercises to promote mindfulness in 5 categories: feeling grounded, finding calm, improving focus, practicing loving-kindness, and relaxing. Easy step-by-step instructions make these accessible for kids and adults. I can’t wait to try these with my kids.
Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings by Heather Hawk Feinberg, illustrated by Chamisa Kellogg
YES! This book is spot-on for emotional intelligence — it encourages children to feel all the feelings and shares that crying is temporary just like the rain…It also explains that crying is healing just like the rain that nourishes the earth. “When it’s needed, the rain always comes. And after the rain pours down, the earth feels fresh and new.” “Tears help your mind, your heart, and your body feel new, clear, and calm after the storm. / We need our tears, just as the earth needs rain.” This is an essential mindfulness book for any social-emotional curriculum and a very helpful, accurate way for every child to understand sadness and tears.
I Can Handle It by Laure Wright
I love this book so much and use the mantras for ME all the time. It’s so great to have this positive affirmation going through my head and my kids’ heads. Things get hard. But I can handle it.
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen
A picture book to help us be mindful of the present moments! These little poems are great to read one at a time and discuss the meaning with your kids. I’ve taken photos of the pages to send to friends who need a little encouragement.
Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Learn about breathing deeply with motions and visuals starting with A for Alligator Breath. “Open your arms wide like alligator jaws on the in-breath. Snap them shut on the out-breath.” It continues with every letter of the alphabet like the Butterfly Breath, Cake Breath, Flower Breath, Ninja Breath, and Yawning Breath. We like to do one per day. Read, practice, and assimilate. Discuss which breaths you like the best.
Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy by Kate Messner, illustrated by Valentina Toro
Sloth’s mom helps him with strategies to sleep and release the worries. They listen to the trees. “Shush-rush” and feel the wind in their fur…They close their eyes and count to four, the breath out for four. It makes Sloth feel quiet Mama shows Sloth how to imagine her worries and lay it gently on a leaf and set it free. Sloth eventually falls into a peaceful sleep.
Imaginations: Fun Relaxation Stories and Meditations for Kids by Carolyn Clarke
These guided meditations are lovely. It helps kids to imagine and really focus their minds on what they’re imagining.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak
Lina walks through the snow to her Grandma’s house. As she walks, she notices the sounds of snow. Her boots on the ground sound like “snyak, snyek, snyuk.” People sweeping snow off their cars make a “swish-wish, swish-wish.” She hears the snow with things like mittens, skis, snowballs, shovels, too. When she arrives at her Grandma’s they cook together, eat, and listen to the stillness of the snow. This story’s lovely illustrations combined with the sensory images in the text give readers an immersive experience of this snowy day.
Mindful Mr. Sloth by Katy Hudson
Mr sloth helps a speedy girl go slow and be still to appreciate the sounds of birds and little butterflies
Now the girl has two speeds — slow and fast.
Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean
The Peaceful Piggy Meditation book includes lovely activities and prompts for meditation — for kids and pigs. 🙂
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hahn, illustrated by Wietske Vriezen, edited by Chan Chau Nghiem
A teacher friend spent time at Thich Nhat Hahn’s Plum Village teaching mindfulness to the children of visitors. This book is based on the practices used at Plum Village and provides specific activities and dialogue to encourage mindfulness practice.
Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Sally Rippin
I wish my kids liked this book but we haven’t found a meditation they connect with as of yet. It is written speaking directly to the kids, not meant for a parent to read aloud to them. Each of the meditations have a purpose such as focus, security, wisdom, and relaxation.
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and their parents) by Eline Snel
I’ve just listen to some of the content on the CD that accompanies this book and think it’s something I’ll buy and try with my kids. See for yourself here.
First, the kids learn about their brains . . . how the sensory input starts at their amygdala, the fight, flight, or freeze response, and then, if all goes well, how the information travels to the prefrontal cortex where the rational brain makes a decision on that input. Then, the curriculum continues on with mindful awareness practices such as sharping each sense, learning to take different perspectives, and being mindful in the world around us. The activities in each lesson not only always explain the brain science, but they provide ideas to engage, explore, and reflect on the learning goal. I’m very impressed with this curriculum!
Mindful Games Activity Cards: 55 Fun Ways to Share Mindfulness with Kids and Teens by Susan Kaiser Greenland and Annaka Harris
I’m looking forward to trying these games to practice attention, balance, and compassion as well as breathing!
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