Meditation for Kids: Books, Articles and Other Resources
I am frequently asked about meditation resources for kids, so here (finally) is a compilation of the best resources I have found. First, are books you can read to your kids, and then books you can use to learn how to teach them meditation, as a parent or teacher. Note that these books are all geared for pre-teen children (perhaps I will create a list for teenagers someday.) After the book lists are some articles about research on children’s meditation, as well as meditation programs in schools. Finally, I have included a list of organizations currently teaching meditation in schools and other settings.
Thanks to all of you that suggested books or resources for this post, and if you have any more to contribute, please feel free to add them in the comments!
Books for Kids
Each Breath A Smile, by Sister Susan – Based on the teachings of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and written by a nun in one of his centers, this book introduces children to mindful breathing and awareness, but steers clear of any explicit religious teachings. Great for calming very young children and teaching them the basics of mindfulness.
Peaceful Piggy Meditation, by Kerry Lee Maclean – This fun story featuring a playful piggy family presents meditation as a tool kids can use to help them deal with the difficult everyday situations they most often confront – getting teased by their siblings, falling down at school, or served a dinner they can’t stand. Includes instructions for basic meditations at the end.
Moody Cow Meditates, by Kerry Lee McLean – By the same author as Peaceful Piggy Meditation, this book centers on a young boy cow, aka ‘moody cow’, who has had a very bad day, and ended up VERY angry. His grandfather helps him settle down with a ‘mind-jar’, where the agitated sparkles in the jar represent his angry thoughts. A great book for opening up discussion about difficult emotions, especially anger, and for introducing meditation as a method for dealing with them.
Relax Kids: Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and Other Fairy Tale Meditations for Princesses and Superheroes, by Marneta Viegas – You might have to buy this (or one of the author’s related books) used as last I checked it is out of stock, but it is well worth it if you have elementary through tween aged children you would like to introduce to meditation, with fanciful themes and guided visualizations.
Seven Spirals: A Chakra Sutra for Kids, Deena Haiber and Aimee MacDonald – If you are a practitioner of chakra meditation, or do yoga and want to introduce your children to the chakras for that reason, this is a great non-religious introduction. For each of the 7 core chakras (within the system Westerners are most familiar with through yoga- there are actually other systems), there is first a page featuring a mandala-type picture with the color, English, and Sanskrit name of the chakra. Then there is a brief vignette featuring a child – kind of a story, but really more of a ‘scene’ or setting that corresponds to the energies that chakra represents. There is a final reference page that lists the locations of the chakras within this system, and provides an overview of how to meditate on them. The pictures are colorful and fanciful.
Books for Parents and Teachers
Sensational Meditation for Children: Child-Friendly Meditation Techniques based on The Five Senses, by Sarah Wood Vallely – Blending science, spirituality and practicality, this book covers everything you need to know to introduce children to meditation, and has many fine techniques.
Baby Buddhas: A Guide for Teaching Meditation to Children, by Lisa Desmond – Geared specifically for teaching toddler and preschool age children how to meditate, this book also includes meditation for parents and instructions on creating a meditation space in a school or home.
Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools, 1/08, Greater Good Magazine, reprinted here by Sharp Brains – Very comprehensive article on meditation programs in schools and current research related to its benefits.
It’s Cool to be Calm, Los Angeles Times, 9/05 reprinted here by The Buddhist Channel – A briefer overview of some of the trend and research on kids and meditation, including as it is practiced within some LA area schools.
Less Homework, More Yoga: From a Principle that Hates Stress, NY Times, 10/07 – Article on the stress modern students are under, and how one high school is incorporating meditation exercises into its program to address it.
Meditation Sharpens the Mind, Live Science 5/2007 – Brief overview of meditation research with implications for treating ADHD in children.
Still Thinking: The Case for Meditation with Children, Science Direct 2006 – This is an abstract of an article published in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity. You will need to pay to purchase the full article, which includes a comprehensive listing of meditation research related to kids.
Meditation in Schools
Inner Kids Foundation – An LA-based group that pioneered teaching meditation in schools. Now nationwide, their programs are also part of research projects by UCLA on the benefits of meditation for kids.
Garrison Institute – The Garrison Institute is devoted to research and training related to contemplative practices of all types. Their Education Initiative includes programs to teach meditation in schools.
Impact Foundation – Colorado based organization that designs contemplation training programs of all types, including for teachers.
Lineage Project - This NY-based organization focuses on yoga and meditation for at-risk and incarcerated youth.
If you are interested in learning more about recent meditation research, or meditation techniques for adults, try the Meditation page.