By Tiffany Coulson, Mattawa Library
Are you looking for ways to reduce stress and anxiety for your child? Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to what is happening right now; what we are thinking, what we see, what we can touch or hear.
Julia Denos, the author of the mindful book Here and Now, says the act of reading a picture book together can help parents and children listen, look, touch, breathe and appreciate their “now.”
“Instead of the traditional in-an-out breath, I use words and page turns to ground readers in their own moment. In that way, the book is a real time meditation.” Julia Denos
Rather than asking a child to sit still or close their eyes turning inward, mindfulness allows them to notice everything around them. It’s a great way to practice cognitive control, introduce gratitude, and awareness of nature. In fact, mindfulness can have long term health benefits especially for children.
“Part of the reason why mindfulness is so effective for children can be explained by the way the brain develops. While our brains are constantly developing throughout our lives, connections in the prefrontal circuits are created at their fastest rate during childhood. Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.” ~ David Geddes, New York Times, Mindfulness for Children
Practicing mindfulness while reading a picture book works great with titles that invite wonder of the natural world, quiet contemplation and positive messages. Here are just a few recommended titles you can order from the library.
Waiting by Kevin Henkes
Maybe Something Beautiful : How Art Transf ormed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell ; illustrated by Rafael López.
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner ; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.
Windows by Julia Denos ; illustrated by E.B. Goodale.
Redwoods by Jason Chin
For more informative practice with a variety of mindful techniques including naming gratitude, noticing thoughts, deep breathing, and practicing cognitive control during play, or rest, check out these picture book titles!
Happy by Nicola Edwards ; illustrated by Katie Hickey.
Mind Bubbles : Exploring Mindfulness with Kids by Heather Krantz, MD ; illustrated by Lisa May.
Now written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis.
Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin ; illustrated by Sara Woolley
My Magic Breath : Finding Calm through Mindful Breathing written by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor ; pictures by Michelle Polizzi.
Peaceful Like a Panda : 30 Mindful Moments for Playtime, Mealtime, Bedtime-or Anytime! by Kira Willey ; illustrated by Anni Betts.