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July 2017

    book reviews, children's books

    Raising Mindful Children: I Am Peace A Book of Mindfulness (A Book Review)

    Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

    I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness
    by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

    Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: – 4 – 8 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3
    Publication Date: September 26, 2017

    Synopsis
    When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.

    Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded and restored.

    Reflection
    It is astonishing the level of stress children (and adults) can experience these days. There are so many distractions surrounding us fighting for every second of our attention.

    Last year my daughter practiced mindfulness in school and she seemed to really like it. At home whenever she started feeling overwhelmed she would tell me she was going to her room for 3 minutes to practice mindfulness. Why 3 minutes? I have no idea. Maybe that’s how long it lasted in her class. In any event, when she finished her mindfulness she was much more calm. So whatever they were teaching her in school seemed to work.

    After reading this book it reminded me to start cultivating in my children the habit of spending a little time each day being mindful – appreciating the moment and being able to observe the world around them. No electronics, no books, just being at peace for 3-5 minutes each day.

    I Am Peace helps children do just that – learn to be in the moment. In the beginning, a little brown skinned boy with dreadlocks talks about being anxious worried about what might happen next or what happened before. In the end, he learns to appreciate what he has and reflects on his feelings.  The beautiful watercolor illustrations really seem to pop off the page and immediately make you feel at peace.  Although the text is spare the messages of kindness and gratefulness come across loud and clear. Children will also learn about being aware of their bodies and see how sharing kindness with others helps them make a difference in the world.  There is also a helpful guided meditation you can do with your kids or on your own in the back of the book. An author’s note provides more information about the benefits of practicing mindfulness with children.  A great beginner book to go deeper exploring silence and meaningfulness with children.

    About the Author
    Susan Verde is the author of I Am Yoga, The Museum, and You and Me, all illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, as well as My Kicks, illustrated by Katie Kath.  She teaches yoga and mindfulness to children and currently lives in East Hampton, New York.

    About the Illustrator
    Peter H. Reynolds is the illustrator of many bestselling and award-winning picture books, including The Dot, Ish, and I Am Yoga.  He currently lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he operates the beloved shop Blue Bunny Books and Toys.

    Your turn: Do you practice mindfulness on your own or with your children?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books

    Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood (A Book Review)

    Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Priscilla Burris

    Publisher: Charlesbridge
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 2 – 5
    Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
    Publication Date: August 8, 2017

    Synopsis
    This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast.

    But when the walls begin to bulge and no-body has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do.

    Where there’s a will there’s a way when families grow and come together.

    Reflection

    Tiny in size, at the edge of Brown Street,

    sits Grandma’s old house, where we all go to meet.

    That is how the book opens with an adorable illustration of Grandma and her two pets peeking out of the window of her tiny house.  Grandma’s family members are about to gather at her house to have a feast.  The book doesn’t say what the family is celebrating perhaps it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, a family reunion or just a regular Sunday dinner.  Whatever the celebration is, I wish I was there right there with them eating some yummy food: turkey, collard greens with ham hocks, biscuits, sweet potato pie and more.

    Children will enjoy counting from one to fifteen as different family members and neighbors start to arrive at Grandma’s house.  The illustrations are so bright and cheery and remind me of huge family gatherings we used to have at my grandma’s house when I was younger.  There are several multi-generational aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews all sporting different hairstyles (most people have beautiful afro-textured hair).

    When the house begins to overflow with too many people one clever grandchild has an idea to take the party outside to the backyard.  The party must go on!

    As Grandma’s Tiny House illustrates, family gatherings are not just about eating.  They are about getting the family together in the kitchen and dividing up the tasks so that everyone is involved and contributing to the family meal, whether it’s by chopping, baking, stirring, bringing a dish to share or setting the table.  In addition to the cute illustrations and fun rhyming text, the thing I like best about this book is you can feel the passion for family gatherings.

    The one addition I would have liked to see in this book is the actual numbers 1-15 shown on the pages instead of just the written number words.  I think this would have made it easier for smaller readers to make the connection to the numbers as well as the words.  Overall, a cute counting book for children ages 2 – 5 years old.

    Your turn: Do you have a tradition of getting the family together on a regular basis, cooking and eating? Tell me about it!

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