Picture Book Biographies: The picture book format has proved effective for biographies, serving as an introduction to the lives of a variety of accomplished men and women. Some picture book biographies like Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, with illustrations by Marjorie Priceman, and by Deborah Heiligman, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham, appeal to children in grade one to three.
Today, the number of well-written, thought-provoking children’s picture books with a mindful component is growing by the moment. Adding a mindful book or two to the current cannon of bedtime stories feels like adding an extra nutrient to the meal. We are planting seeds of empowerment in our youngsters to grow into young adults who can appreciate their world from the inside out.
Watty Piper and Loren Long brought us this inspiring story of a little train engine many years ago and it is still inspiring and encouraging millions of people, children and adults alike. When the little train gets stuck at the bottom of a hill, the little engine keeps his focus, and keeps telling himself “I think I can, I think I can” until eventually he makes it to the top of the hill. The message this leaves the reader with is one of how important it is to be determined, persevere, and never stop trying. One of the most inspirational children’s books ever, this one is a classic.
This precious 1942 book tells the story of a little country cottage that bides its time on a hillside, watching the seasons pass. After many generations, urban sprawl surrounds the little house and its original owner’s great-great-granddaughter sets out on a mission to return the house to the countryside. Complete with detailed illustrations and the happiest of endings.
I pulled together seven mindfulness-based illustrated children’s books published over the last year that are worthy of a closer look. I lugged them around in a canvas bag on a road trip with my eight-year-old and two-year-old daughters, who were more than happy to add their insights and judgments. We gave them each multiple read-throughs in a range of places, times and environments, allowing the message of mindfulness to sink in deeply, and giving the books more than one chance to impress us. Here’s what we discovered.
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Graeme Base has created yet another astounding book to add to the list of the best. This beautiful and amazing picture book will have you looking for clues throughout it to find out the answer to the question, ‘Who stole the birthday feast?’ A mystery like no other with clues on each page and in every illustrated picture, the fun is just beginning with the reading. When you think you know the answer, you may find something that will tell you whether you are right or wrong. Mystery lovers young and old will find this story one to enjoy over and over, alone or with a loved one.
This spoof on the three little pigs will have you laughing and wanting to know more within the first few pages. When the three little wolves go out on their own, they build a house that should stand up to the big bad pig. But the pig is armed with more than simply his huffing and puffing. He has dynamite! Sharing this hilarious tale will make a family reading time more fun than ever. And the ending may surprise even those who think they can tell what will happen next. This anytime story will be one to read over and over again.
This story told from the perspective of the wolf who is considered the bad guy in the original story, offers another side to the classic tale. Alexander T. Wolf has a different way of telling the story, with an explanation as to what he says really happened. You see, he wasn’t huffing and puffing, trying on purpose to blow those houses down. The truth, according to him, is that he had a bad cold. All he wanted was to borrow a cup of sugar so he could bake a cake for his granny. Fun, hilarious, and a riot to compare to the original, this is one that you will enjoy reading.
As many little ones have experienced firsthand, bedtime can be something that is lonely and sometimes even scary. When mom or dad leaves the room, and it’s time to go to sleep, that’s when they want something. A drink, another kiss, a bedtime story, anything to get mom or dad back in the room. Baby Llama is no different. When his mama kisses him goodnight, and he wants her to bring him a drink, she is taking her time in coming. He begins to really worry and ends up crying very loudly. Mama comes running, as any mama would, and makes everything alright again. This is one of those picture books with a message, and a heartwarming story.
For my needs I recently created - Best Popular Picture Books on Goodreads with pretty limited criteria - that is 5000 ratings and shelved at least 500 times as "picture book". Sure it won't be as long as this list - and if people ever start voting on it, I'll probably end up doing a lot of deletion. But it will always be a good starting place for picture books.
The German children's books Struwwelpeter (literally "Shaggy-Peter") from 1845 by Heinrich Hoffmann, and Max and Moritz from 1865 by Wilhelm Busch, were among the earliest examples of modern picturebook design. Collections of Fairy tales from early nineteenth century, like those by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen were sparsely illustrated, but beginning in the middle of the century, collections were published with images by illustrators like Gustave Doré, Fedor Flinzer, George Cruikshank, Vilhelm Pedersen, Ivan Bilibin and John Bauer. Andrew Lang's twelve Fairy Books published between 1889 and 1910 were illustrated by among others Henry J. Ford and Lancelot Speed. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel in 1866 was one of the first highly successful entertainment books for children.
When I was a kid back in the eighties, we had lots of cool books. We had Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, and The Berenstain Bears. There were countless stories with morals and endearing, memorable characters, but I can’t recall a single example that suggested mindfulness: awareness of breath, conscious self-talk, slowing down the moments, tapping into the senses as a way to come into the present moment for ourselves as well as for others.