Tag Archives: mindfulness

When You Need Wings

Written & Illustrated by: Lita Judge

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Fear, New Places, Anxiety, Growing Up, Mindfulness, Coping Strategies. 

Summary: 

In this uncertain time, we know fear is at an all-time high for a lot of folks.  We’ve been making an effort to share books that focus on social-emotional learning and development, and coping strategies for big feelings.  When You Need Wings is all about a young girl starting a new school, and coping with her fear of being in a new environment.  Scared on the playground after her dad leaves, our main character takes some deep breaths and remembers that she has wings and can fly away using her imagination to find solace.

Being able to take a moment to ground yourself when in a moment of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty is a very powerful way to remain calm.  While starting a new school is the catalyst for this young girl to practice mindfulness strategies (and none of us are starting new schools anytime soon) this can be so helpful when getting overwhelmed about responsibilities at home, homeschooling, or the state of the world.  We’re also in love with the illustrations!

This book was kindly sent to us for review by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

IMG_5913_hires_smLita Judge has had a fascinating life!  She was born in Alaska, interned as a paleontologist during the summer when she was a teenager, and has a myriad of critters in her home.  Check out the about me section of her website, we were sucked in immediately.  She’s been on so many adventures!  Lita Judge is the author and illustrator of 24 fiction and nonfiction books including, Mary’s Monster, One Thousand Tracings, Born in the Wild, Red Sled, and Hoot and Peep. Her book, Flight School, has recently been adapted into an off-Broadway musical which is currently showing in New York City and China. Awards for her books include the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, an ALA Notable, NCTE Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book, and the Jane Addams Honor. Before she created art and books, Lita was a geologist and worked on dinosaur digs. But a trip to Venice Italy inspired her to quit her job and pursue a lifelong passion for creating art. Now, when not in her studio, she can be found backpacking through Europe with her sketchbook and easel in hand. Painting in the streets of Italy, France, Sweden, Russia and many other places have inspired her many of her books. The novel, Mary’s Monster, was inspired through reading Mary Shelley’s journals while exploring places she had traveled. This book created a rich opportunity to explore working in a completely new form, that of combining free verse with full page illustrations in novel form. Lita was drawn to capturing the interior world of Mary Shelley’s mind, as well as the realistic images of her life. Creating this book was a journey in itself and took five years to complete. Lita lives in New Hampshire.

Treasure

Written by: Mireille Messier

Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Imagination, Siblings, Growing Up, Nature, Natural World, Appreciation, Lived Experiences.

Summary: 

This book is adorable! The tale starts with two siblings taking a walk through the woods near their home, looking for a treasure.  There are few words in the book, but they are all the conversation between the two.  Something helpful about the book is that one sibling’s words are bolded and one is not, making it easy to keep track of who is speaking.  The younger of the two find all sorts of natural objects like feathers, acorns, and milkweed pods, but is told that isn’t the treasure.  Eventually, the pair come upon what they are looking for but it won’t fit in their pockets!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous!  With so few words, the illustrations do much of the storytelling and Luxbacher has created a magical wonderland of small details for the reader to discover while flipping through the pages.  The woodland scenes are filled with tiny critters and splendid floral illustrations, making every design element a joy to discover.  We love the message of treasure being intangible, and the excitement of the journey is part of the beauty itself.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

mireille_messierMireille Messier is a Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised and now Toronto-based children’s writer with a background in broadcasting and theater. Before becoming an author, Mireille worked as a television and radio host, a director, a researcher, a book reviewer and a voice actress. Sometimes, she still does those things, too. One of her first “literary” jobs was writing jokes for the bottom of pudding lids!

Since the launch of her first book in 2003, Mireille has published over twenty books. When she’s not at her computer writing, she thinks up new stories while she walks, drives or sails her big old boat.

Mireille loves doing author visits. On average, she meets about three thousand kids a year … give or take a thousand. Some of the funniest questions she has been asked by students are: “Do you dream in French?” (Yes!), “How many minutes does it take you to write a book?” (About a million!) and “Are any of the characters in your books real?” (Yes, they are often different versions of me and the people I know).

Mireille lives in Toronto with her husband, two wonderful teenage daughters and two extremely fluffy cats.

irene_luxbacherIrene Luxbacher graduated from Queen’s University in 1992 with a degree in Art History before studying at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since returning to Toronto in 1994, Irene has exhibited her work while teaching art at the Avenue Road Arts School and consulting at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts Program. In 2002 and 2003, Irene curated several well-received children’s art exhibits at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and BCE Place on behalf of Arts for Children of Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness of the value of art education. Irene is the author and illustrator of The Jumbo Book of Art, which won the 2003 National Parenting Publication Award, and The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art. Her latest project for Kids Can Press is the Starting Art series, which includes the titles 123 I Can Paint! and 123 I Can Draw!

Sound Off Saturday Featuring: Rashmi Bismark!

Hello everyone!  It’s been such a long time since we had someone to feature for Sound Off Saturday, and we are thrilled for our return post to be author Rashmi Bismark.  You might have heard of Rashmi before when we were part of the cover reveal team for the latest Bharat Babies book, Finding Om!  Hope everyone has some adventures planned for today, and that you find some time for yourselves in this hectic winter season, walking into the world a little calmer.

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!

za7vR906_400x400Rashmi Bismark: Hi!  I’m Rashmi. I’m a mom of two little girls and a Preventive Medicine doctor with a clinical focus on teaching mindfulness.  I also teach meditation and contribute curriculum for Yoga Medicine by Tiffany Cruikshank. Additionally, I’m what is called a “trailing spouse” in the expatriate world, meaning I follow my husband’s career around the world.  We’ve lived across the globe from Asia to Europe, the US to the UK. Right now we are based on a small island off the coast of France in the English Channel called Jersey.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

RB: My family, tasty veggies, dark chocolate, exercise, sleep/rest, and yoga!  Yoga for me is a physical practice and so much more. It’s a philosophy that infuses the culture of my ancestors.  It’s seeking, uncovering, and honoring connections to myself and life around me in the service of love, harmony, and humanity.  So for me in the world of healthcare, it’s helping patients and fellow physicians find ways of recognizing their wholeness and remembering wise resources from within to support health and healing.  With my writing, it’s inspiring this spirit of self-inquiry and awareness for kids. As the mom in a rather nomadic family, it’s helping our multicultural, inter-faith kids balance and celebrate our backgrounds while getting curious about the people and lands we get to live in.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on! 7135814

RB: Well, of course all the fun around Finding Om! This book feels important for a number of reasons. It speaks to rediscovering those places of peaceful centering and wakeful aliveness from within that are so important for nurturing wellness – whether you are three years old or ninety-nine. These places are our deepest ways of knowing and being with ourselves and the world around us. We sense into them whenever we are resting within our innately present awareness. Mindfulness is the wise remembrance of this caring awareness, and yoga encompasses all the ways of connecting with it.

It is a gift to be able to nurture a relationship with this shared human capacity for inner friendship and peace, because doing so in many ways can be an act of revolution in itself. Our lives can be so full of activity that taking some time out to intentionally attend to the breath, for example, can be enough of a disruption to help us feel more grounded. Mainstream mindfulness and yoga shine light on activities of the body, breath, heart, and mind, helping us to connect with that enduring sense of wellbeing available right here. These same threads of wisdom can be found in traditions from across the world.

Finding Om shares the way that Anu, a little girl of Indian and African heritage, connects to her strengths of presence and awareness through an exploration of the mantra OM with her beloved grandfather, Appuppa. While this is a story about her uncovering various aspects of mindfulness and meditation, it is also a story about her uncovering a connection to a practice embedded within one part of her cultural roots. It is Anu learning about an iconic mantra that is held with deep respect by various dharmic traditions across South Asia. It is her connecting with her Indian-America grandfather, feeling inspired by his rituals, and getting curious enough to explore them a bit on her own to see what it’s all about. It is an authentic exploration of the living cultural expressions of yoga within the South Asian diaspora.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

RB: Please consider purchasing this book, and any other books by Bharat Babies! Diverse books by indie publishers can use all the love and support they can get to increase visibility and longevity of their stories. Please feel free to share far and wide. Not only do children in the South Asian diaspora deserve to see themselves reflected in a story, but all kids deserve to share in the diverse experiences of their peers. This is how we learn about others to build empathy and understanding across communities.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?

RB: We have had many favorites this year.  I Am Love by Susan Verde sits very close to our hearts, as does Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o.  Sulwe tackles colorism which is something that crosses all communities, and it hurts.  Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe’s journey of connecting to her truest inner beauty is radiant.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

FindingOm_smaller-600x600RB: Definitely the launch of Finding Om!  Since this world of kids lit is completely new to me, I am just loving every fresh experience.  I absolutely cannot wait to share this book with kids and hear their reflections. Children are so wise and insightful.  I’m eagerly anticipating all the things they are going to teach me about finding their own connections to peace and aliveness within. My heart is bursting right now just thinking about it!  Yoga practices like meditation and inquiry can be much more than tools or techniques for managing thoughts and difficult emotions. These are also daily opportunities for fostering a sacred relationship to one’s self and life experience purely for the beauty and joy of it. Looking forward to celebrating it all.

Stay Connected With Rashmi!

Website

Instagram

Yoga Medicine Curriculum

Under the bodhi tree, a Story of the Buddha

Written by: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by: Kailey Whitman

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Buddhism, Historical Figure, Historical Fiction, Spirituality, Nature, Mindfulness.

Summary: In lyrical and flowing language, this book tells the story of a prince named Siddhartha.  He was born in India, and had a natural curiosity about the world around him.  Siddhartha’s father may have tried to shield him from the pain and suffering in the world by keeping Siddhartha behind place walls, but to no avail. When Siddhartha was finally allowed to leave the palace to attend a festival in town (orchestrated by his father) he snuck away and saw the real world-one that was not curated for his continued naiveté.  This experience made Siddhartha search for a way to set people free from suffering.  Thus, Siddhartha became the Buddha.  This is simplifying the plot obviously, for the sake of the review, but we suggest you check it out and see exactly how Siddhartha achieves this transformation.

Something really neat about this book is the way Hopkinson weaves in questions to the story, linking past and present.  The reader feels connected to this ancient story, and is drawn to introspection as a result.  Buddhism is one of East & Southeast Asia’s largest religions, and its approximately 470 million followers span the globe.  It’s so important to give people, especially young children, well-rounded and inclusive information about various religious practices.  This book (along with many others) is great for both a wonderful story and introductory information about the Buddha!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of Buddhism before reading this book?
  • There are lots of different religions in the world that people follow.
  • What seems interesting about Siddhartha?
  • Why do you think he felt he needed to become the Buddha?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Deborah_Hopkinson_2015_mediumDeborah Hopkinson has a masters degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she studied the role of women in 13th-century Japanese Buddhism. She lived in Honolulu for 20 years and practiced Zen Buddhism with the late Roshi Robert Aitken, founder of the Diamond Sangha and Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She lives near Portland, Oregon, where she writes books for children and teens.

She is the author of more than 50 books for young readers including picture books, middle grade fiction, and nonfiction. At schools and conferences she helps bring history and research alive. Her work is well-suited for STEM, STEAM, and CCSS connections.

Forthcoming titles include D-DAY:The World War II Invasion that Changed History, What is the Women’s Rights Movement? and Under the Bodhi Tree. She also contributed to a young adult collection, Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All (Spring 2018). 

Deborah’s recent nonfiction includes DIVE! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific, named an Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book. Courage &  Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in WWII Denmark, won a 2017 Oregon Book Award, and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, was a Robert F. Sibert Award honor book and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.

Deborah’s picture books include Ordinary Extraordinary Jane AustenSky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book and Apples to OregonFollow the Moon Home won the Green Earth Book Award, while Steamboat School was named winner of a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Deborah’s middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale was a recommended title for the Charlotte Huck Award.The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London,  the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the  OCTE Oregon Spirit Award.

Deborah received a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She lives near Portland, OR with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her husband, Andy, is a winemaker and artist; her son, Dimitri, is a photographer and landscaper; her daughter, Rebekah, is a teacher and chalk artist, and her toddler grandson, Oliver, is simply extraordinary!

64288668_449377798943383_7869482119045578752_nKailey Whitman is a freelance illustrator. She likes to draw, drink coffee, and go outside, sometimes all at once.

The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories [released 10/15]

Written by: Professor Alice Gregory & Christy Kirkpatrick

Illustrated by: Eleanor Hardiman

For ages: any age

Language: English

Topics Covered: Sleep, Meditation, Mindfulness, Family, Bedtime Stories. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, Nobrow in the UK, but all opinions are our own.

This book is a collection of stories meant to help with a smooth bedtime routine by incorporating mindfulness practices when children are falling asleep.  The book was first developed by Professor Alice Gregory and then a scientific study was run with 100 families to see if it would indeed help with sleep.  It turns out that 77% of families had positive experiences with the first version of the book.  After feedback was given, Alice Gregory improved upon the book and this is the one we have available today!

There are several sections for adults at the beginning of the book, explaining how the book came to be and how to best use the book incorporated into bedtime.  In the back of the book is a list of tips to help with a bedtime routine, and a Q&A section.

The 5 bedtime stories themselves are accompanied by adorable illustrations!  The stories are fairly short, just a few pages.  Within each story comes several mindfulness practices and breathing exercises to incorporate when reading the tale.  Picturing different aspects of the story, Pebble the small stone for instance, in the listener’s hand and breathing deeply engages them into relaxing and becoming more engaged with the story.  This book is unlike any other, and was a treat to read.  We highly recommend these sweet tales to incorporate meditation into the bedtime routine!  This book was developed specifically for the purpose of improving children’s sleep, which is a really cool concept to us.  I’m sure we all know someone that would benefit from better sleep!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Alice-GregoryAlice Gregory is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published a popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018) and has another book in development (Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, BBC Focus, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.

B13eRPXzl3S._US230_Christy Kirkpatrick is a children’s and educational writer specialising in pre-school and primary literacy, including phonics and early reading, and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). She has a PhD in English from the University of London and a background working as commissioning editor for major academic and educational publishers. Christy works primarily on children’s books and resources with an academic or educational focus, and is the co-author of ‘The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories: Calming Tales to Read at Bedtime’ (Flying Eye Books, 2019).

 

DarcieJudson-EleanorHardiman-Illustrator-89Eleanor Hardiman is an illustrator and designer from Bristol, UK. With a distinct, modern and clean illustrative style Eleanor has worked on a vast variety of national and international projects including illustrated books, magazine covers, advertising, packaging and illustrated windows. First Class Graduate of Falmouth University.

Want to chat about a project, or have any questions? eleanor.hardiman@live.co.uk

ABC Mindful Me

Written & Illustrated by: Christiane Engel

For Ages: 5-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Mindfulness, Self-Expression, Meditation, Friendship, Yoga, Social Emotional Development.

Summary: Much like Engel’s other books, this one introduces the intimidating topic of mindfulness in an approachable and easy to understand way for young children. Each letter in this oversized board book explores a facet of mindfulness: Energy, Sleep, Thankfulness, Yoga, and Emotion.  There is a three line lyrical explanation of how to make the word a part of your life to increase mindfulness.  They are simple ideas like taking a walk, playing outside, and making a nature mandala.  In the back of the book are more detailed activity ideas for nature art, a Thankfulness Tree, and emotion rocks.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of mindfulness?
  • What did you learn from the book so you can do to have a calm mind?
  • What is something you would like to try?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • What can we do as a classroom or group for a moment together that celebrates mindfulness, and get us ready for the day?  Choose something from the book to integrate into the daily routine.
  • Reflect on your own mind and body, and think about how you can be a good role model to others.

About the Author & Illustrator:

christiane engel

Christiane Engel loves writing and illustrating, especially for children and young people!   She has illustrated over 30 children’s books so far and also works on magazines, advertising, juvenile fiction, and kids’ products. One of her latest projects is ABC for Me – a series of board books that Christiane created together with Quarto Kids / Walter Foster Jr.

ABC Yoga

Written & Illustrated by: Christiane Engel

For Ages: 5-6 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Mindfulness, Yoga.

Summary: This book is a great way to introduce children to yoga by weaving a story into the poses.  By having a pose with a picture for each letter of the alphabet, children understand how their bodies should look in the pose.  The fun animal-themed poses on each page ignite the imagination of the young audience!  Each letter page also has a short poem that helps to explain the pose- “jellyfish wobbles by.  Lie on your back-look at the sky” it also shows a child and a jellyfish interacting happily on the beach.  These simple illustrations are cheerful and easy to see, a key feature if they’re going to be shown during an actual yoga class!  Children of any age could begin their own practice of yoga, starting with this book.

Reflection Questions:

  • What was your favorite pose in the book?
  • Do you think your family would like to do some of these poses together?
  • When is a time during the day that you like to relax?  Do you think yoga could help with that relaxation time?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Integrate doing a few yoga poses throughout your classroom day.  Have a good listener pick a pose to close circle time, or do a few poses to help student wake up from a rest time.  Incorporating mindfulness exercises like “flower breaths” can also help with emotional regulation and self-soothing techniques that are so crucial for young children to learn in their first years of schooling.
  • If there is an opportunity to do yoga on a regular basis as a class or group, try having a Guest Yogi and let a student choose poses from this book to “teach” the class.

About the Author & Illustrator:

christiane engel

Christiane Engel loves writing and illustrating, especially for children and young people!   She has illustrated over 30 children’s books so far and also works on magazines, advertising, juvenile fiction, and kids’ products. One of her latest projects is ABC for Me – a series of board books that Christiane created together with Quarto Kids / Walter Foster Jr.