If you’ve read our feature story about the benefits of mindfulness-training for youngsters, you may be ready to jump onboard with calm, meditative exercises for the whole family! This month’s Book Review highlights some of the readily available tools recommended by Child360’s experts. We also rediscover a timeless classic…and remember, any of these suggestions would make a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift this month (hint, hint).
by Susan Kaiser Greenland (Shambhala $16.95) All Ages
In pursuit of mindfulness, most adults turn to the practice of meditation. But traditional meditation might be too challenging for children under five—as we learned in this month’s feature story—and alternate strategies are required.
Greenland introduces playful ways that parents, teachers, and caregivers can help children develop focus and concentration, and to identify and self-regulate emotions. The book also explains the broad concepts of mindfulness, and the skills and benefits available to family members of every age.
The book contains complete instructions for over 50 specific “games,” complete with variations and adaptations for different age groups. Many educators opt for the companion deck of activity cards (created with Annaka Harris and sold separately), which cover the same games on durable and portable cards; this material is well-regarded in the ECE community, and part of C360’s own recommendations for providers and families.
by Thich Nhat Hanh, illustrations by Wietske Vriezen (Parallax Press $18.95) All Ages
Do you have a “monkey mind?” In Buddhism, the term refers to a restless or anxious brain whose inner chatter interferes with one’s ability to focus during meditation and mindfulness practice. The short attention span of a child creates the same impediment, but Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh has an easy solution.
Initially designed as mindful stretching breaks between long periods of seated meditation in France’s Plum Village monastic community, the movements have their basis in yoga and tai chi. These simple exercises are great for adding an active component to mindfulness, helping to engage young children who may not be ready for traditional meditation.
The book includes a DVD demonstrating the exercises, although Vriezen’s appealing illustrations do an excellent job modeling them.
by Julian Scheer, pictures by Marvin Bileck (Holiday House $17.99) Age 3-8
In observance of Mother’s Day, we’re showcasing a perennial children’s classic that many moms-to-be still receive as shower gifts—and generations of grown-up children remember with a fondness bordering on obsession!
Written in 1964, this whimsical and poetic picture book received numerous publishing prizes the following year, and has remained in print ever since. The captivating nonsense of the text is accompanied by slyly intricate illustrations that encourage imaginative interpretations, so the “story” differs from child to child, and from reading to reading. It might be “silly talk,” but it’s developmentally sound!
For those who don’t already have an heirloom copy floating around their family, consider gifting this charming book to the moms and grandmas in your life.