Mindfulness Resources

At its simplest, mindfulness is about noticing and observing. These picture books introduce us to mindfulness and show us how we can practice it in nature, in gardens, and in our backyards.

Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen

“How I rush rush rush!

Thoughts flutter and dart like birds.

Slow down, thoughts.

Come quietly with me.

There is time to breathe and be.”

These poems -- all of which follow the form of tanka, an early version of haiku -- encourage the reader to connect with nature: to slow down and find calm, to listen and feel in tune, to breathe and to be. For times when you feel like barking and snapping, or when “days crash like thunder and lightning,” the words and illustrations offer readers something concrete to connect to in a variety of situations, such as imagining leaves of worry and sadness drifting away in a stream.

Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused, Anytime, Anywhere by Kira Willey and illustrated by Anni Betts

This book is packed with approachable, engaging breathing exercises, organized into five sections oriented for achieving different states: being calm, focused, imaginative, energetic, and relaxed. Through connections to nature, animals, and senses, this book shows us that in just a minute or two, we can pause, reset, and practice mindfulness. The “hot chocolate” breathing exercise has quickly become a touchpoint for me and my young son: we pretend to hold a cup of hot chocolate, take a deep breath in, then a long breath out to cool off our hot chocolate. We repeat a few times, ending with a “mmmmm” sound.

Happy: A Beginner’s Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards and illustrated by Katie Hickey

This helpful introduction to mindfulness features five children in common settings: watering flowers, sitting in a cozy kitchen, splashing in a stream, and basking on a hill. Each spread offers a take on an aspect of mindfulness: listening, feeling, tasting, discovering, appreciating, and more. The rhyming text guides readers through the senses and offers specific exercises and questions to ponder.

Here and Now by Julia Denos and illustrated by E.B. Goodale

This very peaceful book brings the reader directly into the moment -- “right here, right now, you are reading this book” -- and then explores what might be happening around you, whether near or far away. “An ant has finished its home on the other side of the planet … A friend you haven’t met yet is sitting down to dinner.” The illustrations offer kid-favorite themes, such as fossils, planets, scooters, cookies in bed, and animals. The author’s note explains that this book is a “real-time meditation” with “words and page turns to help ground readers in their own moment.”

Outdoor Adventuring

Here are some favorite books that celebrate being active outdoors, observing the beauty around us, and hiking and adventuring.

Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

Written from the perspective of a child going on a hike with her parents, this book covers the basics of what one can expect to do on a hike, how one can prepare, and what supplies one will need. This is a great resource for new hikers, and for anyone embarking on an outdoor walk. “The more I walk, the more I notice…” As we follow along on the hike, we come to understand how noticing and mindfulness are an inherent part of our experiences in nature.

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Three kids and a dog embark on a hike in this charming, fun, child-centric story celebrating friendship and the outdoors. Animals and plants are labeled on each spread, making clear how much there is to see and discover on a hike. The friends run, climb, get lost, read maps, find their way back to the trail, pause to make leaf baskets, capture views in sketchbooks, and reach the top of a mountain. The back of the book includes notes from the sketchbook, offering readers ideas on what they may see on their own wanders and how they might go about documenting and researching their own discoveries.

Wild Things: Over 100 Magical Outdoor Adventures by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks

Packed with creative ideas for turning any outing into an adventure, this guide starts out with “wild skills training,” covering basics about staying safe, tuning into your senses, navigating, and tracking. Combining the practical with the magical, it offers dozens of ideas organized by themes of dragons, monsters, elves and fairies, and more. It’s sure to spark lots of imaginative play, enthusiasm for spending time outdoors, and a new appreciation for what one might find in the backyard, garden, or park.

Handsprings Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian

These beautiful, approachable poems, each accompanied by a painting, focus on the clues nature offers us to welcome springtime. This full look at the season includes lots of references to all the ways we move our bodies in spring, from spring training to spring cleaning, berry picking to handsprings. Be sure to check out the other books in this wonderful seasonal series: Winter Eyes, Summersaults, and Autumnblings.

To see more of my favorite cooking and gardening books for kids, please join me @thepicturebookcook on Instagram. And please dig into more of my book picks for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter!

Kate Rowe loves picture books, reading, gardening, cooking, and talking about all of these things! She shares picture book recommendations paired with food adventures @thepicturebookcook on Instagram. She is a writer, editor, and parent of two young book-loving garden helpers.