Mindfulness & Self-Expression

Behavioral books or those that blatantly attempt to teach a lesson usually end up awkward and overtly after-school-television-ish.  I usually steer away from these books and instead lean towards general picture books with a sense of humor or interesting/beautiful illustrations.  In the bookstore we group behavioral-type books, like When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang and How to Behave and Why by Munro Leaf, with parenting books.  It is the parent who seeks out these types of books because they are at a particular impasse with their child, like teaching the importance of “please” and “thank you”.  Of course, these behavioral books are important, but I am never inspired or pulled towards them.  Upon reading the two books reviewed in this post, I was struck with their beautiful illustration and the importance of their lessons, mindfulness and self-expression.  It is easy for parents and teachers to overlook these particular lessons, but perhaps these are the most important.

Phileas’s Fortune: A Story About Self-Expression by Agnes de Lestrade and illustrated by Valeria Docampo addresses the importance of self-expression over showing off or bullying.  Where Phileas lives there is an old factory that spits out words.  People must buy, catch, or hunt for the words then swallow those words they wish to speak.  Some words are expensive and Phileas is poor, but he catches three words and saves them to say to a girl, Cybele.  A bully, Oscar, is able to afford very expensive words and he expresses his love for Cybele very directly.  Phileas says his three unrelated and simple words, but because they are so intensely heartfelt, Cybele offers him a loving kiss on the cheek.  In an excerpt about the book, psychologist Marc Nemiroff explains, “Values education is most effective at younger ages, and this book speaks to the young child directly and simply, without lecture… Phileas’s Fortune is about positive developmental characteristics we can teach our children: of caring for others, of being honest, of being modest.”  Don’t let the somewhat menacing cover fool you, this book is sweet and loving.  The illustrations are amazing and contribute to the powerful message about self-expression.

Age Group: 3 and up
Genre: Illustrated Book
Themes: Self-Esteem, Self-Expression, Friendship, Love
Publisher: Magination Press

Take the Time: Mindfulness for Kids by Maud Roegiers is another book that captures the subtleties of life.  The book focuses on how to cope with life as well as the overwhelming sense of anxiety that plagues children and adults alike.  Roegiers directs children (and I think this applies to adults as well) to “slow down and take the time to be with my friends” or “to close my eyes when I am hugged.”  Mindfulness, according to Buddhism, is described as a calm awareness of feelings and consciousness.  In an age when anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness among adults, Roegiers’ book offers kids simplistic ways of dealing with such feelings.  Perhaps, like our “please” and “thank you’s,” teaching mindfulness needs to become a lesson taught in every home and school.

Age Group: 2 and up
Genre: Illustrated Book
Themes: Self-Esteem, Anxiety, Mindfulness, Relationships, Self-Reliance
Publisher: Magination Press

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1 Comment

Filed under Picture Books

One response to “Mindfulness & Self-Expression

  1. Doppelganger

    I am putting both of these books on my son’s list of books and then I’ll get them for myself! 😉

    The illustrations of Phileas’s Fortune especially look so interesting. And you are so right about teaching children about these things, through books that kids actually want to read! And will savour through their lives.

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