I Am Peace by Susan Verde

UN International Day of Peace, September 21

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H, Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Sep. 26, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Mindfulness, Being present, Peace

Opening: There are times when I worry about what might happen next and what happened before.

Publishers Synopsis“I give myself a moment. I take a breath. And then I tell myself: It’s all right. I am Peace.”

The world can be a noisy place for young minds, filled with worries, fears and doubts.  Young readers will identify with the child in the book: “The thoughts in my head are like rushing water and I feel like a boat with no anchor…being carried away.” As these feelings get overwhelming, the child takes a moment to breathe, and in a practice of mindfulness, finds a space of peace and calm.

Children can learn how to manage their emotions, make good choices and balance their busy lives by learning to be mindful. Express emotions through speech. Find empathy through imagination. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world.

Why I like this book:

Given the landscape of today’s fast-paced technologically stimulated world, I Am Peace is a gentle and loving reminder for kids to appreciate living in the moment, calm their emotions, be patient and kind with themselves and others, and respect the simplicity of nature.

The creative team of I Am Peace, Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds,  have once again collaborated on an engaging and interactive picture book — a treasure for children to grow up with. Verde has penned an original and joyful story of self-discovery. The lyrical text is written with simplicity giving readers time to grasp the importance the power of now. Reynolds’ illustration have his signature whimsical appeal. Just look at the cool book cover. His use of soothing watercolors gracefully captures the peaceful poses as the child meditates, watches clouds, and shares seeds of kindness where ever he/she goes.

l Am Peace is a companion book to I Am Yoga, written and illustrated by this dynamic duo. I am drawn to this beautiful story because of the benefits of teaching mindfulness to young children. If children learn a mindful practice in their developing years, it becomes a natural part of who they are. It gives them tools to bring balance into their busy lives, to engage mindfully, and develop a sense of well-being. Mindfulness will benefit children for a lifetime and help them change their world.  I Am Peace is a timely book for children in light of the United Nation’s annual September 21  designation of International Day of Peace.

Resources: There is an Author’s Note for parents and teachers and a Guided Meditation at the end of the book that will echo the sentiments of the narrator. It is a beautiful introduction to peaceful meditation for children.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Abrams provided me with an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City

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King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City

By Susan D. Sweet and Brenda S. Miles, Authors

Bryan Langdo, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Oct. 17, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Distractions, Slowing down, Paying attention to the present moment,  Mindfulness

OpeningIn a Great Big City, there lived a gorilla named Marvin. Marvin wasn’t like other gorillas. He didn’t stomp his feet, he never wanted to fight, and he never pounded his chest with a thump thump roar! 

Book Synopsis: Meet Marvin. He’s a gorilla living in a Great Big City. He is peaceful and composed and enjoys every minute of his day. He doesn’t approach life with a thump thump roar. Instead Marvin experiences the world mindfully through his senses. He’s the King of Calm.

Why I like this book:

The authors have written an engaging and entertaining book about Marvin, who is a calm and gentle character who notices things other people miss because they are distracted or too busy to care. When Marvin slowly eats his banana he notices the bright yellow outside and the sweet ripe inside. His grandfather doesn’t understand Marvin because he’s impatient with life, gobbles his food and is ready to move on to their next activity. While Marvin  is very observant, Grandpa never really takes a moment to stop to enjoy his surroundings until…

I am pleased to see the growing number of books that encourage kids to slow down, pay attention to whatever they are doing in the moment, and notice the beautiful world around them. It is good to introduce mindfulness practice to children. Start at a young age, when they are open and eager to explore everything they see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.

Bryan Langdo’s illustrations are colorful, lively, diverse and expressive. Children will enjoy studying the detail on each page. As parents and teachers read this book to children, the illustrations are a great place to ask questions. What are the people at the fountain doing and does anyone notice its beauty except Marvin? What happens to the other people in the illustrations when they are distracted in the city scene? How do they react? Are they calm or reactive?

Resources: The book includes a Reader’s Note filled with information about learning to pay attention to your life through your senses by living mindfully.  Start by paying attention to what you are eating rather than gobbling it down. Be more observant when you take a walk and notice the smells in the air, the cloud formations, or look into a stream. Is it a cool or sticky day? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you.  What do you hear? Sit on a bench and observe. How do you feel?

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Peace, Bugs, and Understanding

Peace, Bugs9781937006631_p0_v3_s260x420Peace, Bugs, and Understanding: An Adventure in Sibling Harmony

Gail Silver, Author

Youme Nguyen Ly, Illustrator

Parallax Press, Fiction, Dec. 9, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Anger, Sibling Rivalry, Mindfulness

Opening: Lily was having a picnic with her father and her little sister, Ruby, but it wasn’t much fun. Ruby was lying on the checkerboard.

Book Jacket Synopsis: Lily and her sister are having a picnic when Ruby spoils their game of checkers. Lily lashes out but soon gets absorbed in a wonderful book, the story of her great-grandfather Lahn’s encounter with a strong-looking frog-like creature called Anger. The precious old journal teaches Lily about Metta, a technique that has helped people transform anger into loving kindness for thousands of years.

Why I like this book:

  • Gail Silver, author of Ahn’s Anger, has written a positive and resourceful book for children and adults about transforming negative feelings. This book focuses on anger, but I believe it can be used with feelings of jealousy, frustration, anxiety, disappointment or any negative feeling that causes disharmony. It’s a book children and parents will want to read together.
  • Peace, Bugs and Understanding, introduces its readers to a very simple calming technique called “Metta,” which means loving kindness. Silver suggests “that when you practice Metta,  sit quietly and become aware of your own breath.” Once you calm yourself, you focus on the person you are angry with and wish for them “to be happy, be strong, be safe and live with peace.” 
  • This is a wonderful tool for children and adults to cultivate forgiveness towards others and even themselves. How can you be angry at someone when you are sending them kind, happy and loving thoughts?
  • The book is a story within a story. Therefore, Youme Nguyen Ly’s illustrations are colorful and warm watercolors in Lily’s world, but are gray and white pen and ink for Lahn’s journal.  The illustrations project a sense of calm that fits beautifully with the theme. This is a lovely collaboration between author and illustrator.

Resources: My favorite part of the book is a “Reader’s Guide” at the end that helps parents teach “Metta” to their children. There is also a page of discussion questions to use with children. This is also a book to pair with Ahn’s Anger, which I reviewed in 2013. You can visit Gail Silver and Youme Nguyen Ly at their websites.

Gail Silver is the founder of Yoga Child, a program that develops curriculum for school-based yoga and mindfulness programs. She is the author of Anh’s Anger and its sequel Steps and Stones.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Visiting Feelings

Visiting Feelings514j9vickLL__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Visiting Feelings

Lauren Rubenstein, Ph.D., Author

Shelly Hehenberger, Illustrator

Magination Press,  Fiction, Sept. 28, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Being aware of feelings, Mindfulness,Yoga

Opening: “Do you have a feeling that’s visiting today?/Can you open your door and invite it to play?/Can you ask what it wants, and then check it out?/Welcome it and listen to what it’s about?”

Synopsis from Book Jacket: Visiting Feelings harnesses a young child’s innate capacity to fully experience the present moment. Rather than label or define specific emotions and feelings, Visiting Feelings invites children to sense, explore and befriend all of their feelings with acceptance and equanimity. Children can explore their emotions with their senses and gain an understanding of how feelings can lodge in the body, as conveyed by the common expressions like “a pit in the stomach” or “a lump in the throat.”

Why I like this book: Lauren Rubenstein has written a very poetic and sensitive book that helps children explore their feelings.  I wish I had this book when my daughter was young. She encourages kids to make friends with their feelings, get to know them, and find where they settle in their body. Rubenstein cleverly uses beautiful metaphors like: “Is it bright like the sun?/Dark like the rain?/Or is it a look you can’t even explain?” and “Is it warm or cold?/Sour or sweet?/Does it shiver with fear when the two of you meet?” and “How did this feeling enter your house?/ Did it barge right in!/Was it shy like a mouse?” Shelly Hehenberger’s illustrations are whimsical and dreamy lulling the reader along and adding to the  rhythm of the story. The illustrations are created digitally using hand-painted textures and overlays.

Resources: A clinical psychologist, Rubenstein includes a double- page spread  at the end of  the book with suggestions on how to teach children to practice mindfulness and nurture their emotional intelligence.  It is all about learning to stop and be aware of the moment. This is a wonderful book for parents and educators. She also believes in teaching children yoga.  Proceeds from Visiting Feelings will be donated to the Go Give Yoga Foundation, where she teaches yoga and mindfulness to children and adolescents in Haiti.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Journey with me…

 

 

Special-needs-children-222x225Welcome to Children’s Books Heal!   I specifically chose to use “heal” in my blog name, because I felt it more inclusive of what I wanted to communicate — books have the power to heal.  Many of the books I plan to  review will focus on children and teens with special needs.   It’s  a broad category ranging from autism, Asperger’s syndrome, cancer, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairments to anxiety, ADHD, intellectual disability, adoption, divorce and grief.  I also will target books that are  multicultural,  about peace, conflict resolution, virtues, and the power of music and the arts to heal.  Each book will be hand-picked for the quality of its message.

In January 2011, Scholastic, the largest publisher of children’s books, released the Top 10 Trends in Children’s Books from 2010.    Among those trends was an increase in fiction with main characters who have special needs.  Examples included My Brother Charlie, Marcel in the Real World, and Mockingbird — all great books I will share.

According to a study published by Brigham Young University professors in the December 2010 issue of Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities,  “Despite an increasingly positive portrayal  of characters with disabilities in Newbery Award-winning books, there still is not an accurate representation of the nearly 7 million children with disabilities attending U.S. public schools.”   They studied Newbery Award and Honor books published from 1975 to 2009.

“We are hoping that this will be a call to authors,”  said Professor Tina Dyches.  “We’ve got so many wonderful authors in the world and we would love to see more inclusive characterizations in high quality books where kids with disabilities are being recognized for who they are no not just the limitations of their disabilities.”

I am a journalist and writer who  hopes to review high quality books for children and students with special needs.  I bring with me many life experiences.  My husband and I have a large blended family, with two adopted children, one a foreign adoption.  We have parented children with disabilities and special needs.  I also know what it is like to live as an adult with a disability, as I had a serious brain injury seven years ago.  And, I know how grief impacts children and families.  In 2009, our grandson was a casualty of the war in Iraq.   These experiences have influenced my choice in writing books for children, and the theme for my blog.

Please join me in my journey of writing and blogging.

Patricia