I Am Peace (one of three books in a series, between I Am Yoga and I Am Human) reads more like an aspiration than a tale. It takes us through one, slowed-down moment with a child who is using mindfulness to bring about peace when his thoughts are worrisome. “I give myself a moment. I take a breath. And then I tell myself, it’s alright.” Peter Reynolds’ illustrations are simple and endearing, peace signs abound. In a perfect world, people of any age will have access to the same sanity and peace that the child in this book has.
We have a wide range of ages in our family, from toddler to grade-schooler – and a healthy variety of reading tastes, too. And so I can’t guarantee that every kid will love every book on these lists of the best picture books, but I can tell you that every one of these books wowed my test audience of three very different kids, plus me and my husband. I’m also pretty annoying about telling friends and family to give these books as birthday and holiday and “just because” presents, and every single time they report back: Everyone loved the book! The kid and the parents.
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.
The half-wall next to my eight-year-old daughter’s desk is filled with post-it notes marked with mis-spelled positive affirmations: “you got ths” and “you r luvd,” they say. I could easily sneak one in there that says, “I m a worior godiss.” The book, I Am a Warrior Goddess feels as simple as a collection of pages of encouraging self-talk for my daughters. The illustrations are fun and lively, telling us the story of a sweet little redhead who talks to herself wisely and affirmatively— the way we are teaching our young girls to speak to themselves.
Manasa Ramakrishnan is a Bangalorean. She loves learning new languages and watching off-beat movies. She started off as a broadcast journalist with CNN-IBN and then completed her Teach for India Fellowship in Chennai. Post the fellowship she started-up in the education space and founded a company called Curricooler. She currently works at Amazon as a Content Editor. Manasa is an Asian College of Journalism Alumnus. She is crazy about animals and spends a lot of time with her pets.