Ann Angel and Her Reading Team
February 2021

Teddy at restOur Rais­ing Star Read­ers con­trib­u­tor Ann Angel always has a unique take on select­ing books for her Read­ing Team. Here, Ann talks about books that encour­age what she calls “mind­ful­ness moments” — titles that help kids (and adults) slow down and focus dur­ing our cur­rent “wild” times:

Our house is home to three gen­er­a­tions. So hus­band Jeff and I live with Ted­dy, a rather ram­bunc­tious five-year-old, and his mom. Our daugh­ter — his mom — will tell you Teddy’s full of ener­gy, smart and stub­born, and able to get wound up for no rea­son oth­er than that he’s five. She’s not wrong.

He’s also sen­si­tive and lov­ing and feels ter­ri­ble when he is rep­ri­mand­ed for his wild side. To avoid melt­downs and shame when he’s spin­ning and jump­ing and rush­ing to ful­ly expe­ri­ence those last moments before bed­time, our daugh­ter Ste­vi has devel­oped a plan that includes read­ing books for kids on yoga, med­i­ta­tion, and mind­ful­ness. I’m always amazed at how quick­ly Ted­dy embraces yoga and set­tles into prac­tice, or to lis­ten to sto­ries of med­i­ta­tion and kindness.

Recent­ly, Ted­dy decid­ed I need­ed a yoga les­son, so he pulled out his favorite books and his yoga mat so we could cap­ture mind­ful­ness moments. Mama Ste­vi served as our cam­era person.

Ann and Teddy practice yoga

Teddy’s favorite book for mind­ful­ness proved to be Good Night Yoga, writ­ten by Mari­am Gates and illus­trat­ed by Sarah Jane Hin­der. With straight­for­ward illus­tra­tions and metaphor­ic guid­ance, Ted­dy was able to teach me to take posi­tions such as “stars sparkle bright­ly and the moon ris­es high,” and to pose for “lady­bugs set­tle soft­ly between the but­ter­flies …” These are basic yoga posi­tions that were made espe­cial­ly fun because of the lan­guage Gates uses to encour­age her read­ers, and the illus­tra­tions that show appro­pri­ate poses.

Bedtime Meditations for Kids, Good Night Yoga

Bed­time Med­i­ta­tions for Kids, writ­ten by Cory Cochi­o­lo, is anoth­er delight­ful book that helps slow down our young ones and set­tle them in for the night. It was clear that Teddy’s favorite activ­i­ty was “High Five,” a count­ing activ­i­ty that walks read­ers through an exer­cise to review the day. It ends with high-fiv­ing your own hands.

There are addi­tion­al books that this fam­i­ly choos­es when we’re set­tling down on a wild day. These include Pat Ziet­low Miller’s Be Kind, illus­trat­ed by Jen Hill, which helps Ted­dy slow down and pay atten­tion to the peo­ple in his life who might need a help­ing hand (rumor has it a fol­low-up book will be out soon). Anoth­er choice is Jacque­line Woodson’s The Day You Begin. Delight­ful illus­tra­tions by Rafael López walk read­ers through a litany of dif­fer­ences that can make young ones feel iso­lat­ed and alone while encour­ag­ing these read­ers to con­nect to others.

Be Kind, The Day You Begin, Grow

I’m also look­ing for­ward to the March release of JoAnn Ear­ly Macken’s Grow. Illus­trat­ed by Stephanie Fiz­er Cole­man, this is a book that is sim­ply about liv­ing each day with atten­tion and cel­e­brat­ing the way that the world changes and grows, and so do we. My hope is that Ted­dy can help me sit silent­ly and watch change and growth.

What are your favorite mind­ful­ness books, and how do you unwind with your grand­kids or kids when life becomes a spin­ning, whirling ride?

Teddy holding books


Bookol­o­gy is always look­ing for new Read­ing Teams to help us cel­e­brate the joys of read­ing aloud togeth­er. Con­tact Lisa Bullard for fur­ther infor­ma­tion if you’re inter­est­ed in participating.

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Joyce Sidman
3 years ago

I love Breathe and Be by Kate Coombs, and Twist by Janet Wong. Great post! Ted­dy is adorable!

April Halprin Wayland
3 years ago

Yes, yes ~ TWIST by Janet Wong is won­der­ful. And thanks for the heads-up about JoAnn Ear­ly Macken’s GROW ~ I can’t wait!

sarah warren
sarah warren
3 years ago

My son loves Calm Mon­sters, Kind Mon­sters by MN author Karen Kenny!