Mindfulness - the quality of attention that combines full awareness with acceptance of each moment, just as it is - is gaining broad acceptance among mental health professionals as an adjunct to treatment. This little audiobook is a very appealing introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware.
Mindfulness is a buzzword for overworked adults everywhere, and many swear by its ability to literally rewire your brain and reinvigorate your life (as in Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics). But, much as being overworked and over scheduled isn’t just for adults anymore—consider the soccer, tutoring, hyper-scheduled play dates, and school schedules—so is a practice that allows our youth to hit the “pause” button on life. As author and educator Eline Snel notes, many schools are introducing mindfulness practice into their daily curriculum—my own mind was blown at how it magically quieted a room full of kindergartners—but often there is a need for this kind of calm attentiveness in home life, too. Sitting Still Like a Frog carefully lays out the case and methods for implementing (and sustaining) a mindfulness practice for the kids around you. A bonus: it's also a helpful method for how to incorporate mindful habits into your own life.
From New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz comes a debut picture book about the magic of memory and the infinite power of the imagination. Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places. So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family's story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: “Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you.” Gloriously illustrated and lyrically written, Islandborn is a celebration of creativity, diversity, and our imagination's boundless ability to connect us—to our families, to our past and to ourselves.
Junot Díaz's first work for young children is a response to his goddaughters who wanted a book with characters like them, Dominican girls living in the Bronx. This story ties together themes of immigration, multiculturalism, and belonging. For kids who are “from somewhere else” and for those who welcome them, this will inspire kids’ empathy for immigrants and their imaginations for distant lands.
While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, Aru will be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that she makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at her doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. She can get herself out of this.
When 12-year-old Aru accidentally triggers the end of time by lighting a sacred lamp, her hilarious animal sidekick, Subala the pigeon, suddenly appears to guide her on her hero’s quest to save the world. This inaugural book of Rick Riordan’s imprint brings Ancient Hindu mythology into the real world much like Percy Jackson brought Greek mythology alive. The action only stops long enough for funny one-liners from Subala to keep the story light and fun. Give this to Riordan’s many fans.
Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His dad just died, the share crops are dry, and Cap'n Buck - the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina - has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap'n Buck and agrees to track down some thieves. It's not too bad of a bargain for Charlie...until he comes face to face with the fugitives and discovers that they escaped slavery years ago and have been living free in Detroit. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move - and soon.
One of my all-time favorites, Christopher Paul Curtis, can make me laugh and cry in the same sentence. Twelve-year-old Charlie, son of a white sharecropper, gets swindled into joining an evil plantation overseer on a journey to capture escaped slaves. Charlie is a product of his environment, yet bravely struggles to do right in the face of the evil he sees. Based on an actual incident, this story is sometimes brutal, but redemptive and even funny in a way that only Curtis can manage. It begs to be listened to so kids can hear Charlie’s dialect as it was meant to sound.
When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B. B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded kids. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they'll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso's villainous clutches.
Neil Patrick Harris’s first book is full of the usual Dickensian clichés so common in children’s books--a poor orphan and crooked, greedy adults trying to exploit him—but Harris makes it his own by adding legit magic tricks and endearing personal asides to the audience. The story is light and fun, and fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events will love it. But the best part is Harris’s narration. His charm and charisma come through in full force, making you feel like you are his best friend and he is telling the story just for you.
With all of the pluck and charm of its eponymous young hero, Rachel McAdams ( The Notebook, Spotlight, Midnight in Paris) delivers a spectacular reading of Montgomery's beloved bildungsroman. In moments both funny and bittersweet, McAdams' voice is imbued with the spark that has made Anne a much-loved symbol of individualism and cheer for over a century.
I was an Anne of Green Gables groupie in the late 80s after the original CBC mini-series came out. A young bookish orphan with a fierce love of drama and endless spirit, Anne was the poster child for nerdy, slightly precocious girls everywhere and I WAS IN. I read all the books in the series, memorized Noyes' poem The Highwayman, and let my best friend know that she was my "bosom friend" (for the record she thought I was weird). So it was with the very best kind of nostalgia that I revisited my favorite childhood book with the Canadian Rachel McAdams providing the perfect happy, nuanced, and lovely voice for the tale. I know what my family will be listening to on our six-hour drive south for Thanksgiving.
Arianwyn has flunked her witch's assessment. She knows she's doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, Arianwyn may never become a real witch like everyone else - much to the glee of her archrival, Gimma. But the remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are being sighted in the woods, and a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town. Then the worst thing Arianwyn can imagine arrives in Lull: Gimma turns up on vacation determined to make her life miserable.
I spent my childhood looking for a closet to enter into another world the way kids now hope for Hogwarts letters. So I love kids like Arianwyn Gribble, an apprentice witch who fails her witch’s examination. Wyn’s grandmother uses her influence to get the disgraced girl a position in the remote outpost of Lull, where everything goes wrong for poor Wyn, even her spells against harmless snotlings. But Wyn faces a tougher trial when dark magic enters Lull. Even non-fantasy fans will enjoy the themes of friendship, bullying, and self-esteem, and magical types will eat this up as Wyn proves her worth as the town witch.
Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring) brings a palpable sense of joy and exuberance to her performance of Lewis Carroll's enduring classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The young and imaginative Alice grows weary of her storybook, one "without pictures or conversations", and follows a hasty hare underground - to come face to face with a host of strange and fantastic characters.
I've loved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for as long as I can remember. As a child I adored the magic, the adventure, and the kooky characters. As an adult, I grew to love Carroll's imagery, symbolism (perhaps unintentional), and his ability to turn what seems like nonsense into an enduring children's tale. No matter how many times I've read this story and watched the movies, I feel like I can always return to the familiar and colorful place that is Wonderland. Scarlett Johansson brings such incredible depth and wonderment to this timeless tale, that this just may be my new favorite interpretation. Did I mention that her sister, veteran narrator Vanessa Johansson directed this performance? I guess talent runs in the family.