Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Start your day off with Yoga Animals

Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses, by Paige Towler, (Apr. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426337529

Ages 4-8

What better way to start the day off – or bring it to a gentle close – than with yoga? Nat Geo teamed up with poet Paige Towler to give readers Yoga Animals: A Wild Introduction to Kid-Friendly Poses. Rhyming verses lead readers through a series of animal poses that stretch, balance, and slide them into a zen state of mind. Verses are accompanied by color photos of the animals inspiring the poses, and callouts, artfully placed inside colorful mandalas, walk readers through the pose with a photo and explanatory text. An Animal Yoga Guide at the end provides the Sanskrit names for each pose, photos of a child completing the pose, and a brief, descriptive paragraph about the animal inspiring the pose.

I love doing yoga with kids. I did it when my own were little, and I had a yoga storytime for years at my libraries, where one of my most popular readalouds was You Are a Lion! by Taeeun Yoo; it’s another book that uses animal poses to introduce yoga to kids and will make a nice companion to Yoga Animals. The photos and pose explanations are helpful to illustrate how to achieve the pose, and having photos of animals on the spreads makes a nice correlation between the animal pose and the animal. Let the kids channel their lion or their cat and achieve a nice stretch! There are some very good yoga and meditation books available for younger kids, and yoga may be a nice way to ease some stress and anxiety these days.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just Breathe… Mallika Chopra brings meditation to kids

Just Breathe, by Mallika Chopra/Illustrated by Brenna Vaughan, (Aug. 2018, Running Press Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-0-7264-9158-2

Ages 7-12

Self-help guru Deepak Chopra’s daughter, Mallika, began meditating at age 9. In Just Breathe, she introduces mindful meditation practices to a younger audience. She discusses stress, how stress affects the body, and how meditation can help in her introduction; she ends her introduction with a baseline meditation; something to allow readers to create a “safe, happy place” inside them. Other practices in the book build on this base. Divided into subsequent sections on breathing, moving, being silent, noticing, asking, and creating, she leads readers through breathing and meditation exercises that help reduce stress and anxiety, cope with pain, and get them moving. There are sections on walking meditations, and on yoga, with each breathing exercise lasting anywhere fromn one to five minutes (the introductory exercise is the longest at 15 minutes, but she emphasizes that even one minute of meditation can greatly help).

The artwork is calming, featuring kids of all colors and genders in various stages of mindfulness, from yoga to walking to laying down. The muted colors and gentle expressions add to the calm, meditative feel of the text. Chopra provides prompts for thought throughout the book, which could be really helpful in a guided session where a reader can gently prompt meditative thoughts. Chopra encourages face-to-face interaction and disconnecting from devices, even for a little while; she also brings attention to our inner voices, the power of journaling, and the joy that comes with creativity. She applies these lessons to everyday stressors kids encounter, including bullying or test jitters, providing solid context.

Just Breathe is a solid introduction to mindfulness and meditative practices for kids. I’m looking forward to adding it to my yoga collection, and want to see how a meditation program for school-age kids will go over at my library. I miss my yoga storytime!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Can you help Yoga Frog cheer up?

Yoga Frog, by Nora Carpenter, (May 2018, Running Press Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780762464678

Recommended for readers 4-10

Yoga Frog likes to start his day off with some stretching, but sometimes he’s grumpy. He’s not much of a morning frog, and frankly, I don’t blame him. But Yoga Frog has a secret mood lifter for those tough to drag yourself out of bed mornings: yoga!

Yoga Frog introduces young readers to 18 different poses, each illustrated by our friend and guide, Yoga Frog. Each spread is brightly colored, with one page describing the pose, and the pose’s name in both English and Sanskrit; the facing page has our green amphibian yogi demonstrating the pose. Not every pose maps to its “real” English name; for instance, what grownups may know as “warrior” is “giraffe” here, in keeping with the nature-themed names. It doesn’t matter here, it’s gives the kids something fun to relate to and envision as they stretch and bend, releasing those endorphins and giving them a spot of Zen. The digital art is simple and sweet, with a big-eyed, friendly frog working his way through his asanas. A note to parents reminds caregivers about the benefits of yoga and breath awareness, and there’s a fun poster depicting the poses – not in order – that you can hang up and have kids refer to during a yoga storytime.

This nicely fits in with my yoga storytime books as a nice instructional. If you have a yoga storytime program, this is a nice add; ditto, if you need some yoga books for your collection. There’s a lovely emphasis on building childhood mindfulness lately – and it’s well-needed – so I’d jump on it.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

“Cyrano de Bergerac in yoga pants”: Cici Reno, Middle School Matchmaker

cici reno_1Cici Reno: #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker, by Christina Springer (Apr. 2016, Sterling Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 9781454917519

Recommended for ages 9-13

Middle schooler Cici Reno is the go-to person for… well, darn near everything. She knows just the right thing to say, just the right advice to give. Maybe she’s so Zen because she takes classes in her mom’s local yoga studio and tweets advice about the right pose for the right mood? The thing is, her best friend, Aggie, is crushing on Drew – who happens to be Cici’s  brother’s buddy – but has no idea how to talk to him. Cici volunteers to create a fake Twitter account and talk to him online, posing as Aggie. And that’s where the trouble starts: Cici finds herself falling for Drew. Drew falls for the girl he’s chatting with online, who he thinks is Aggie, but he’s totally confused as to why Aggie’s so different when she sees him in person. And Cici? Well, for possibly the first time in her life, she doesn’t have the answers.

Cici Reno is a fun intro to crush and romantic fiction for tweens, and a sneaky/smart way to introduce the classic tale, Cyrano de Bergerac, to middle schoolers. It’s a classic tale of miscommunication that fits perfectly with today’s kids, who largely interact online. I also love the introduction and description to various yoga poses, and the mental/emotional benefits of each, that Cici Tweets out at the beginning of each chapter. Not only does it gives readers a clue as to what’s going to happen in the upcoming chapter, it offers a little bit of yoga instruction that I appreciate and hope tweens will take the bait and discover on their own.

Cici is a likable character. She’s not a mean girl; she’s not vapid; she’s a realistic tween who does a favor for her shy friend, with the best of intentions, and finds herself stuck in a situation she didn’t expect. Aggie is a surprisingly supportive best friend; I normally find myself irritated with the classic “best friend breakdown” formula that many books fall into, but Cici and Aggie avoided all that by simply talking things out. Thank you for that, Ms. Springer! It’s going to be a talking point when I booktalk this one, because I will be adding this to my shelves for summer reading. I think the use of social media and miscommunication will fit nicely with my tweens, and it gives me a great jumping off point for a discussion on how you can pretend to be someone else online – and, in classic devil’s advocate mode, how someone shy and/or introverted can use social media to interact more comfortably than he or she would feel in person.

Christina Springer’s author website offers more information about her books, a link to her blog and appearances, and contact information.

Here’s a glimpse at #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker:

cici reno_2

cici reno_3

cici reno_4

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Downward Dog With Diego is more yoga fun for kids!

downward dogDownward Dog with Diego, by Pamela Prichett (Apr. 2-16, Blue Apple Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781609055288

Recommended for ages 3-6

Diego’s a little boy who’s learning yoga, and he’s inviting you to learn with him by following the animals! Stretch like a cat; crouch like a frog; bow down like a dog; balance like a bear; lie down like a crocodile; curl up like a rabbit; stand like a cow; rise like a cobra; roar like a lion, and flutter like a butterfly – the pictures show you how.

This is a great introduction to yoga for toddlers and preschoolers. The bold, bright colors are eye-catching, and the images of animals used in yoga, paired with Diego, posing inside the animal’s outline, illustrates how the pose relates to the animal and makes it easier for kids to recreate the pose on their own. Rhyming text and alternating spreads introducing the action and animal, then revealing the pose with its description on the next page, give readers a sense of excitement as they wait for each pose to be revealed. Bold text that travels across the page adds to the fluid movement of the book and makes for a fun read aloud or read-alone. A spread at the end of the book depicts poses with names, outlines of a person doing the pose, and the benefits of each pose.

This is a visually interesting book that will keep audiences interested. Go through a read-aloud twice: read through the book once, and then move through the series a second time! I’ve been adding more yoga books to my picture book collection after having a great yoga storytime this past weekend; I can’t wait to read this one with my toddlers and see how they enjoy it (my review copy was digital). Kids love recreating animal poses, and books like You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses, plus videos like Yoga Kids, speak to this by concentrating on animal poses and facial expressions. Learning animals sounds is one of the first things we teach our kids, so it’s a great way to continue learning about animals, while giving them the benefit of exercise and the calming practice of yoga. A fun addition to your fitness and storytime collections.

downward dog_1

downward dog_2

 

Posted in Preschool, Storytime, Toddler

Yoga Storytime!

My library has been on a health kick. We ended January with a health festival that included zumba classes, salsa instruction, and more fresh food and fruit than you could possibly imagine. We were packed, had hundreds of people in and out all day, and really got the word out that staying healthy is a process – but a fun one. I decided to do my part, and had a yoga storytime this past Saturday, and I was delighted to have a good turnout and that the parents were really into it!

I have to give huge thanks to both Storytime Katie and the Yogibrarian, both of whom had yoga storytimes that I used to guide me as I put together my yoga storytime. Here’s how it went:

Hello song!
Hello, my friends, Hello!
Hello, my friends, Hello!
Hello, my friends, Hello, my friends,
Hello, my friends, Hello!

Song: This is Yoga (to the tune of Frere Jacques)
This is yoga, this is yoga,
Om, sweet Om, Om, sweet Om, (hands in Namaste – prayer – position)
Sitting and stretching, (sit criss cross applesauce)
Twist and turn (twist to one side),
Om, sweet, om, Om, sweet, om, (hands in Namaste – prayer – position)
Repeat, and stretch to the other side!

head to toe

 

Story: From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle
This was a great warm-up story for the kids. We stretched our necks like giraffes, beat our chests like gorillas, and waved our arms like monkeys. The kids had a great time, the parents had a great time, and we laughed and called out animals names the whole time, to keep the interactivity high.

 

 

 

 

you are a lionStory: You Are a Lion!, by Taeeun Yoo
This is such a fun book! The book uses actual animal-inspired yoga poses and invites readers to channel the animal to complete the pose. We stuck our tongues out like lions, flapped our thighs like butterflies, and slithered like snakes. I would definitely use this book again. The end of the book features all the poses, for anyone interested in doing an asana series. Encouraging the kids to make animal sounds while breathing into the poses was a hit, too.

 

 

 

 

We sang a few songs to keep in the spirit of the books and postures we just learned. I encouraged the kids to prowl like lions, to stretch their upper backs, and we had a nice, loud ROAR! at the end. The kids loved the suspense of not roaring the first two times we repeated the rhyme, too!

Song: “Lion Prowl” (by Debbie Clement: http://www.songsforteaching.com/debbieclement/lionprowl.htm)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: (silence)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: (silence)
Lion, lion prowls through the jungle.
Lion, lion stalks the jungle floor.
Lion, lion prowls throughout the jungle.
Lion, lion listen for that roar: Rrrrrrrrrroarrrrrr!

For “Flutter Flutter Butterfly”, we got back into our butterfly yoga poses and gently moved our thighs up and down to mimic the butterfly’s wings. Some kids wanted to flap their arms, too. We had the space, they enjoyed themselves, it was great. 

Song: “Flutter Flutter Butterfly” (Tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Flutter, flutter, butterfly,
Floating in the deep blue sky,
Floating by for all to see,
Floating by so merrily,
Flutter, flutter, butterfly,
Floating in the deep blue sky.

We sang our goodbye song (just like the hello song, but replace Hello with Goodbye!), and finished up to go color. The storytime was a success and I’m already looking at more yoga picture books for more yoga storytimes!

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Start the day off with Good Morning Yoga!

good morning yogaGood Morning Yoga, by Mariam Gates/Illus. by Sarah Jane Hinder (March 2016, Sounds True), $17.95, ISBN: 9781622036028

Recommended for ages 3+

Perfect for kids and grown-ups, Good Morning Yoga starts everyone’s day off with a series of yoga poses, accompanied by positive, uplifting visualization.

Kids are stressed out. Between test anxiety, general school and social anxiety, and overscheduling anxiety, kids are operating under a level of stress most of us never knew at such a young age. Yoga is a way to help everyone focus, breathe, and relax. Starting children off with a yoga practice is a wonderful way to give kids a head start on recognizing when and how to calm themselves and connect back with themselves when what’s inside them may go a little haywire – just like us.

Mariam Gates, the founder of Kid Power Yoga, wants Good Morning Yoga to help kids focus, relax, self-monitor, and self-soothe. She’s an experienced educator and yoga practioner – what a great way to bring the two passions together, right?

Ms. Gates and illustrator Sarah Jane Hinder put together a beautiful, calming vinyasa flow for kids and adults to follow to greet the morning. The book takes kids through a series of poses and breathing exercises, featuring multi-ethnic children and bright, varied backgrounds like a ski slope, a volcano, and a mountain top. The images illustrate that yoga is truly for everyone, everywhere.

The text leads the kids through poses and visualizations – a gentle stream, an explorer, a playful dog – and always, as with grown-up yoga classes, brings the children back to the centering breath with the repeated phrase, “As I breathe in, as I breathe out…” A series of pictures throughout the book and at the end guide the series of poses to create a flow that kids will quickly pick up. Each pose is fully explained at the end of the book.

I’ve been dying to do a yoga storytime for ages; ever since I read Storytime Katie’s Yoga post, where she did a preschool yoga program, and this book is going to be a valuable addition to my yoga libraries – both my work library and my home library! The book doesn’t come out until March, but never fear – Goodnight Yoga is available right now. Parents, check this book out, and do some yoga with your little ones. I used to do YogaKids DVDs with my older two when they were kidlings, and we had a great time with it. You’re laughing together, you’re creating fun poses, and for a little while, you’re just happy in the moment with the most important people in your life. Teachers, this is a great set of books to have on hand for a quick break in the day, especially during test season.

Here’s some of the beautiful art from Good Morning Yoga, to tide you over until March (or until you get your copy of Good Night Yoga).