picture books

“Everybody Can Dance!” by Kara Navolio

If you have a little dancer in your life, this book is a must have! 💃 ⠀

Kara Navolio has written a beautiful and inclusive book, Everybody Can Dance. What I love about this picture book is that it celebrates people’s differences, has a great beat in the rhyme of the text, and the back of the book showcases different types of dance.


Congratulations on your meaningful work, Kara! This is a lovely picture book!!! ⠀

Pre-orders are available on Amazon, B & N and Indibound.

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Shift Book Box

How do you teach children about socioeconomic diversity? How do you have conversations about “ownership, resources, and power, and how those things are distributed, perceived, and experienced in our world”? (Shift, Socioeconomic Diversity: Conversations to Challenge Bias and Rethink Wealth). 

In the month of December, a time that feels filled with materialism, the Shift Book Box was an amazing resource for our family - opening up a door to answering and discussing important questions about socioeconomic diversity, offering a selection of beautiful picture books, and providing guides for parents. 

I really have fallen in love with this book box and appreciate the meaningful picture books and parent guidance. I can’t wait to see what other important topics they will be exploring in the coming months. 

Learn more https://www.shiftbookbox.com

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Worry

Last year I wrote a story about a little sheep, Jewel, who is afraid to cross the meadow and go to her birthday party. ⠀

Along the way, she meets a few farm animal friends who help her discover mindfulness tools to overcome her fears and get to her party. 🐑 🐈 🐖 🐎 ⠀

My daughter has been asking me to read the story a lot lately, which warms my heart because she didn’t realize that I had written it until last night! ⠀

In this illustration, Cat is telling Jewel to “imagine each worry is dancing through the sky on the wings of a butterfly.” ⠀

I love teaching my kids tools for coping with their fears and I’m excited to start sharing some of those tools with you this week. ⠀

The first tool I am sharing is a foundational mindfulness teaching - observing your fears. ⠀

Pema Chödrön says, “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”⠀

As the sky, I observe the weather as it changes. Sometimes it is cloudy. Other times there is rain. In summer days it is hot and sunny. As the sky, I bring equanimity and acceptance to the changing weather. ⠀

One way that teach this concept to my children is through role play. After reading stories like this (check out my website www.mindfulninjamom.com for picture book suggestions, as this one isn’t published yet) we use a stuffed animal or a small figure, pretending it is scared. Then, I model ideas like observing our fears like butterflies dancing through the sky. We giggle as we wave and say, “bye-bye!”⠀

🦋 🦋 🦋 ⠀

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Carmela Full Of Wishes

I have been focusing on how to best help children navigate anger, so when my daughter came home with this book last Friday, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! ⠀

Carmela Full Of Wishes by Matt de la Pena is a wonderful picture book on many levels. Set in an immigrant community, the reader experiences Carmela’s day as she sets out to help her older brother. ⠀

What my four and six-year-old have been most curious about in this story is Carmela’s relationship with her brother. ⠀

In the beginning of the story, Carmela’s brother is annoyed with her (and Carmela isn’t shy in giving him a glare in return). ⠀

It has been incredible to listen to my children talk about why they think Carmela’s brother is angry and what solutions the siblings in the story could come up with. ⠀

This is a great picture book to help facilitate a conversation about anger/solutions to anger with your little ones. Plus, the story lends itself to many other fruitful discussions!!! ⠀

Thank you, Matt de la Pena for another amazing book! ⠀

Check out more books rooted in social-emotional learning on my website!

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When Miles Got Mad

Yesterday, I showcased 5 picture books for helping your child with their anger. Today, I will highlight the book When Miles Got Mad

What I like about this book is that Miles becomes upset when his little brother breaks the airplane Miles and his father recently made. This gives parents who have more than one child, an opportunity to talk about how frustrating it can feel when a sibling wont share with them or takes something that belongs to them.

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At this point in the reading, I would often offer a personal story of a time when something similar happened to me as a child. For example, I remember how angry I was in third grade when my friend wouldn’t let me play jumprope on the playground. 

Mindful Ninja Mom Tip: It is really helpful for parents to share times in their own lives when they felt mad, sad, and scared. When children hear their parents talk about their feelings, it normalizes their own emotions. It also creates a deeper bond between the parent and child.

After sharing your own personal story, your children may want to share a time when they felt angry. If they want to share, allow them time and space to talk about their story. I often ask, “and what happened next” as a way to hear more about their experience. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t want to say anything, as they are gaining a lot just from hearing you talk about your own feelings. 

Throughout the story, you may find places where a natural pause occurs and you may share more personal experiences or ask more curiosity questions. Be cautious though of disrupting the flow of the story too much, you don’t want your little ones to lose interest.

At the end of the book, ask your child how Miles went from angry to feeling better. Invite your children to share other solutions that they could use when they are angry - i.e. drawing a picture, hitting a pillow, taking a deep breath. 

Make a list of your child’s ideas and create an Angry Wheel Of Choice.

I will teach you how to make an Angry Wheel of Choice in tomorrow’s post. Stay Tuned!


When Miles Got Mad
By Sam Kurtzman-Counter, Abbie Schiller

How To Help Kids With Their Anger

Of all the feelings my children experience, anger used to be (and, honestly, still can be) the hardest one for me to process. When I was a child, I didn’t learn a lot of effective tools for navigating my own anger. Ultimately, that led me to suppress my anger and become less tolerant of other people’s anger. ⠀

As a parent, children always provide plenty of opportunities for us to work through our own stuff. This is a perfect example of me relearning how to steer through the muddy waters of anger, so that I can better teach and understand my own little ones. ⠀

So, what resources are available to help teach kids effective tools for processing anger? And what tools can us parents use so that we don’t react when are children are upset? ⠀

As many of you know by now, one of my favorite resources for helping children understand their feelings is picture books. Picture books give children the gift of understanding that they are not alone with their feelings and they provide parents with a container for discussing their children’s feelings.⠀

Here is a list of five of my favorite picture books for talking about anger. I will highlight these books throughout the week and use one book to showcase how it might be used with your child.⠀

5 Picture Books About Anger -⠀

Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners⠀

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard⠀

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer⠀

When Miles Got Mad by Abbie Schiller and Samantha Counter⠀

When Sophie Get Angry - Really, Really Angry … by Molly Bang⠀


Stay tuned for an in-depth look at using one of these books with your child to help him work through his anger.

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5 Picture Books That Spark Empathy

Webster says, “Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Marriage Family Therapist, Noah Kempler, says, “Empathy promotes deep relationships, helps build emotional intelligence and insight, fosters cooperation, builds self-esteem, and allows for problem solving.”

I model empathy for my children when I acknowledge their feelings. Instead of yelling at my son to speak to me respectfully, I first let him know I understand he is upset. After I connect with him, I reinforce that it is not okay to speak to me harshly (Kempler calls this technique “the arm of empathy and authority.” In Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, a similar parenting approach is called “connect before you correct"). With my daughter, I communicate that I know she feels sad when I drop her off at school. Then, I quietly leave while letting her teachers transition her into the classroom. (I can also role-play with her ahead of time, as I know separation is hard for her).

The more understanding I give to my children, the better foundation they will have for displaying their own empathy. Empathy is a learned skill, not easily understood by young children. Researchers say empathy is first seen around age two, and by the time a child is four, he begins to associate his emotions with the feelings of others (www.psychcentral.com).

One way that I spark empathy in my home is by reading picture books that model empathy. Here is a list of my 5 Favorite Picture Books That Spark Empathy …

  1. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud

  2. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

  3. I Am Human: A Book of Empathy by Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds (Illustrator)

  4. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

  5. Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss,

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Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

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HAVE YOU FILLED A BUCKET TODAY?  is a must have in every home and classroom. This book is about expressing daily kindness with the image of filling invisible buckets that all people carry (that’s being a “bucket filler”). It also addresses “bucket dipping” — being unkind. I love this book because it gives my family common language to express the effects of our words and actions on each other.  My children and I recently made buckets together and filled them with appreciations on cards that they decorated. They love filling each other’s buckets!