Mindfulness and Resilience Books for Children
by Arielle Vaverka, Children’s Librarian
This summer will be very different for all of us, especially for our children. Unlike years past, we are not marking the end of a season with graduations, summer parties, and vacations. Our usual camps, clubs, and programs have been canceled. All of this uncertainty is leading many families, especially the kiddos, to feel unfamiliar stress and anxiety. Children manifest stress in ways that can look different than adults. Mood swings, bedwetting, thumb sucking, acting defiant, and bullying are all expressions of stress in children.
While we cannot change the current situation, we can empower children to manage their emotions and actions. You’ve likely heard about mindfulness and building up our resilience during these chaotic times. What’s great is that there are tools we can teach and encourage our children to practice to create a sense of calm and control.
Mindfulness is simply acknowledging the present and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness can be part of yoga, a guided meditation practice, or as simple as taking a few focused breaths. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from hardship. It involves checking in with your emotions and thoughts and choosing a positive reaction. This sounds easy but it is much harder in practice! Here are some great stories that bring these concepts to life for kids.
Children’s Books about Resilience
Pete the Cat is a very groovy character who shows a lot of resilience in the storytime favorite, “Pete the Cat’s Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin and James Dean. Pete’s favorite shirt starts losing its buttons but Pete is not worried. The story is simple, colorful, and thoroughly enjoyable when sung out loud.
Beatrice Bottomwell is “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes” by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. Beatrice is proud of her reputation for always doing things the right way but sometimes her perfectionism keeps her from enjoying her friends, little brother, and daily routine. This book is a fun reminder for all of us not taking ourselves too seriously.
Andrea Beaty is another fantastic children’s book writer with strong characters that model perseverance and growth. Beaty and illustrator David Roberts created a delightful story about a shy aspiring inventor, “Rosie Revere Engineer”. Rosie loves to create machines to solve problems but is scared to show her inventions to the world. In the story, Rosie discovers that mistakes are really victories when you learn from them. It’s hard to miss the references to the historical icon Rosie the Riveter and the can-do spirit she inspires.
To learn more about resilience practices, check out the short film, “Rest, Restore, and Recover your Resilience” created by the Great Course available on the Kanopy app.
Children’s Books about Mindfulness
“I am Peace: A book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds is a wonderful introduction to mindfulness as it describes the process from stressed to calm in a colorful story format.
“Breathe like a Bear” by Kira Willey illustrated by Anni Betts contains thirty different breathing exercises meant to be enjoyed at your own pace. The book is full of vivid drawings and the exercises are really engaging for children describing breathing with simple explanations and everyday objects. I believe this book can work as a resource that your child can refer back to again and again to practice their favorite breath.
Nature lovers and poetry admirers will really appreciate “Breathe and Be: A book of Mindfulness Poems” by Kate Coombs and Anna Emilia Laitinen. The poems are thoughtful and simple and the illustrations highlight the beauty of the natural world to remind kids to remain present and aware.
A great audiobook to start practicing mindfulness as a family is “Mindful Parent, Mindful Child: Simple Mindfulness Practices for Busy Parents” by Susan Greenland. Greenland lays a foundation of why mindfulness is important and provides simple examples to practice.
All of the books are available in a digital format through the Hoopla or Libby apps. If you are having trouble accessing your account information, need help navigating the digital resources, or if you have a reference question, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Childhood Stress. Kids Health.February 2015 reviewed by Steve Dowshen