[Monday Reading] Picturebooks that Celebrate Quiet, Mindfulness, and Well-Being in “Silence,” “Breathe,” “I Am Yoga,” and “Twist”

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

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As our current reading theme highlights restlessness and refuge, I thought that it would be good to share picturebooks that focus on mindfulness, listening to one’s inner silence, and finding peace within.


IMG_1274Silence

Created by: Lemniscates
Published by: Magination Press, 2002 ISBN: 1433811375 (ISBN13: 9781433811371)
Personal copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Given the barrage of noise that constantly surrounds us, it is almost with a sense of gratitude that I read Silence by Lemniscates.

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The book invites readers to pay attention to the world by simply being silent. It is in this space that one is able to hear waves crashing:

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I find that silence can mean different things to different people: for some it seems deafening that it needs to be filled by absolutely anything – aimless chatter, sounds from the radio, the busy traffic right outside.

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This book, however, asks us to listen to our heart beating, our “breath when still,” the sound of our feet when dancing. It is this quiet that allows one to hear the world’s beating heart.


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Written and Illustrated byScott Magoon
Published by: A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2014. Book Awards: A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2014. A Massachusetts Center for the Book Must-Read 2015 picture book selection. ISBN: 1481405330 (ISBN13: 9781481405331)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

A young whale and his mother explore their home. As they move together in the water, the mother’s injunctions include the constant reminder to not just play, to not just make friends, explore, or dive down deep, but also to “breathe.”

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This proof is a reminder that a book does not have to be filled with too many text for its meaning to be absorbed into the reader’s consciousness:

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Told in sparse text, this book provides illumination of the beauty found underwater, and reminds us that every breath is something to be grateful for:

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There is so much beauty here, and so much to love. Perhaps this book found me at the exact time when I wanted to silence the noise from the world. At the moment, I am disheartened by everything that is happening in Philippine politics. I vehemently feel that the Marcoses and their cronies (including the recently-elected President) should not be allowed to cunningly revise history as they play on people’s penchant for memes, so-called “moving on” without reparation, and the general malaise of those who should know better but couldn’t care less. Then I find this…

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And I am comforted.


IMG_1280I Am Yoga

Written by: Susan Verde Art by: Peter H. Reynolds
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015 ISBN: 1419716646 (ISBN13: 9781419716645)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have been practicing yoga (sivananda is my yoga of choice) for years now and pilates (Marie Winsor specifically) for even longer. This is the first yoga book after Twist: Yoga Poems that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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It also begins with the swirl of turbulent emotions that often overtake a person, the feelings of restlessness, the sense of isolation – and how yoga can help one find some semblance of balance.

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I especially enjoyed how each yoga pose was accompanied by text that speaks to an openness to the universe and a singular union of body and spirit that flattens the white noise and make that which is real and beautiful stand out.

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If you are in need of finding your center, do a savasana and see the air that comes in and out of you – it plays a tinkling music.


twistTwist: Yoga Poems

Poetry by: Janet Wong Art by: Julie Paschkis
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. ISBN: 0689873948 (ISBN13: 9780689873942)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

There are sixteen poems in all in this picture book. People who practice yoga would enjoy them as each poem highlights certain poses in lyrical verse. There is the curling chick-child in Child’s Pose remembering the “inside of an eggshell”,

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the Cat/Cow pose when one’s head is dropped down on the grass just like a cat, and one’s “hilly spine” magically transforms the cat into a cow gazing “at the heavens in gratitude.” There is also the “bow-wow’wing” position as seen in Down Dog, and of course the Cobra which pushes gradually upupup from the damp soil:

She lifts herself higher,

To dry out her heart.

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How beautiful is that… rising from out of the darkness to rinse out one’s heart – shedding the flakes of pain and dried scars.

I enjoyed in particular how each pose magically transforms each individual into a Low Crow, an Eagle, or even a roaring Lion exhaling all the exhaustion from out of one’s throat. There is also the quiet power of nature as portrayed in twisting and convoluted poses (steady, though, strong feet, breathe) in Tree and Mountain/Volcano where “My stillness is never still.” And there is the beautiful Half-Moon when one discovers the power of flight “Grabbing hold of a star.”

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Janet also explained her creative process as she crafted each of the poems which she claimed she wrote for Julie Paschkis, the talented illustrator of this book who allowed each twist to live and breathe through her paints and dream-like illustrations:

I practiced yoga poses in my writing room while I wrote these poems. I would write a line, do the pose, jump up and write another line, and do the pose again, over and over. Sometimes I pushed myself a little too far. I looked at yoga pictures and forced my body to look somewhat the same way, even when it felt bad. Don’t push yourself too far.

I also smiled when Janet describes herself to be comfortable with the various things that she is:“especially my doughnut self.” I love doughnuts – fluffy, tasty, sweet ones with frosting on top.

This book  is a gift, a beautiful find that whispered its secrets to my ears as I stretched myself further – my disassembled bones in my purple mat, their chaotic fragments breathing peace.

Currently Reading…

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I did finish reading this novel last night – I was only a third-through when I met up with my book club Saturday Night Out for Book Geeks to discuss this last Saturday. Very disturbing but not really what I would call unforgettable.

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So I am back to reading Mario Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter which I am immensely enjoying. So much to love in this novel.

  1. This is a great theme. Breathe sounds beautiful. I’ll have to check them all out.

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  2. I am still looking for Breathe and I Am Yoga. At this point, it seems unlikely my libraries plan to purchase, so I will probably buy them myself!

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  3. Such a beautiful collection of calming, soothing picture books. We all lead such busy, non-stop lives, even children are constantly scheduled and overrun with stimulation. We could all benefit from some silence and calm in our crazy lives.

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  4. Breathe I’m familiar with but Silence I’m not. Beautiful illustrations!

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  5. Thank you for these books on Mindfulness. There are new to me and I will share them with my yoga instructor as well. Perfect to begin the school year with.

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  6. Oh these are such beautiful books Myra. How I long for silence. Each year we go high mountain camping far from the madding crowd. It’s really noisy when I listen to the world of nature around me, but it’s not that noise of civilization. I come back feeling at peace with myself again. I practice Iyengar yoga (not as much as I should though) It gets me through times when I am having back pain because of scoliosis.

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  7. Great picture book recommendations! Clipping your post to peruse when filling my shopping cart for the library!

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  8. Thank you for sharing these beautiful books. Silence would have fit in perfectly with the discussion at my Bible study this morning. I also want to find the yoga poetry book.

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  9. I love it when teachers incorporate yoga with kids during school hours

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