Magination Press is the kids’ publishing arm of the American Pscyhological Association, and they cover some great topics for kids. These three books cover mindfulness, gratitude, and resilience: three traits that kids need now, seemingly more than ever.
Bentley is a lovable, calm honeybee who lives in a crowded hive. While the other bees are rushing around, Bentley takes a second to gather himself, then settles himself on a nice daffodil in the garden to meditate. He catches the attention of neighboring critters as he sits, eyes closed, centering himself. When Sammy Squirrel finally asks what he’s doing, Bentley happily explains that meditation helps quiet his mind and stay focused. This sounds great to the other animals! Bentley leads the group in a gentle guided meditation, to everyone’s benefit. The motto: “…when life is hard or you just need to chill, think of Bentley and try to bee still“.
This rhyming story about meditation and mindfulness is a great way to introduce preschoolers to the practice. Bentley guides his animal friends in a gentle meditation, and you can guide your storytime kids through a similar one, just by reading the book out loud. It’s a wonderful habit to develop, especially in kids. The muted watercolors and gentle rhyme scheme offer a meditative read; just invite the kids to close their eyes and listen. This is a great wrap-up story for a yoga storytime, or a calming bedtime – or anytime – read. A note to parents and caregivers provides further explanation about meditation, teaching kids to meditate, and how to create a family meditation time.
This companion book to 2017’s Grow Happy brings back Kiko, the little girl who showed readers how to grow happiness. This time, she’s off on a camping trip with her class, and she’s a little bit nervous about going without her parents, but she’s happy, because her best friend, Jasmine is going on the trip, too. When Jasmine is put in a separate group, Kiko pairs with Camille, who’s also a little unsure about this whole camping and hiking business. At the end of an exciting day, their teacher gathers the kids around the fire and reflects on gratitude, inviting everyone to share what they are grateful for this evening. Kiko realizes she’s got so much to be grateful for, and can’t wait to get home and tell her family!
Grow Grateful teaches a simple but important lesson: gratitude. The entire story is a lesson in mindfulness – being aware of everything around you and your place within the world – and gratitude. Kiko is surrounded by beautiful nature, family, and friends. When she realizes that her parents won’t be on the trip, she still rises to the challenge, grateful for the chance to try something new; when Jasmine is put into another group, she doesn’t sulk or demand to go home, but joins up with another classmate who needs support and offers her own support. She takes in the beauty of nature and enjoys the new experience, filling her with gratitude. It’s a concept nicely explained by Kiko’s teacher, but perfectly summed up when Kiko drifts off to sleep and notes that she “feels happy in my heart”.
The artwork appears to be mixed media, providing a nice mix of texture and color for readers to catch. The characters in the story are multicultural, including Kiko, who has Caucasian parents and a sibling, but appears Asian. A note to parents offers advice for encouraging gratitude. This one’s a good add to storytimes and booktalks.
Carolyn is a young girl with a lot of interests: she likes building with blocks, she helps around the house and with her baby brother, and she loves animals and castles. At school, she can do a lot of things her friends can: she gets onto the floor for circle time with the class, she joins in during reading time, and she hands out papers for the teacher. She may be in a wheelchair, but Carolyn isn’t slowed down at all! But when her friend invites her to a trampoline birthday party, Carolyn feels a little uncomfortable. All she can do is watch, while everyone else is bouncing around her – or can she? And when her friends decide to run a race at recess, a boy from another class jeers that she can’t run so she can’t play! Carolyn’s friends rally around her and tell her that she can be part of things – she can be a referee! – even if she isn’t a direct participant.
Yes I Can! is a book that teaches kids empathy. The text reaffirms that Carolyn, a girl in a wheelchair, is an active member of her class and her community. Using Carolyn’s “Yes I Can!” statement illustrates how much Carolyn can do – things that maybe kids didn’t realize using a wheelchair allowed one to do, like scooting across a carpet to join in circle time or feeding a class pet. But the book also examines how kids may feel when they’re left out of an activity, like being at a trampoline party, or being told they can’t take part in an activity because they can’t walk. It engenders a feeling of empathy by letting us ask kids, “How do you think Carolyn feels right now? How would this make you feel?” By having Carolyn’s friends rally around her, the author models positive behavior that lets readers know the right way to be a supportive, empathetic friend.
The group of kids is multicultural, and the artwork is animated with a more realistic bent. An author’s note offers talking points about disabilities, and how to be sensitive when interacting with people with physical disabilities. A solid addition to collections. The Measured Mom blog has a good list of additional children’s books about disabilities.