Looking for some of the best books for kids to help them build healthy habits early in life? Are you familiar with the many benefits of reading to kids?
Storytime is a great way to connect with your child, build language skills and, with a regular reading routine, create a sense of consistency and stability in their life. This, combined with deep breathing, can be a powerful social-emotional development tool to add to your child’s toolbox.
Children are experiencing an increase in anxiety, stress, and confusion due to the global pandemic. This is a normal response to so much change in such a short amount of time, but what is the best way to help them work through these feelings?
Connection! Connecting with your kids is the key to helping them feel safe and secure in an unstable world. Reading out loud is an excellent way to build a connection, and deep breathing teaches them how to connect with themselves. So why not combine the two?
A simple way to add a breathing practice into your child’s day is to bundle it with storytime as part of their calming bedtime routine.
Building breath awareness through literature is a great way to equip your children with self-soothing habits and practices so that they can face life’s challenges head-on.
There are many benefits to deep breathing, and with practice, your children will be able to access this superpower anytime they need it.
This is why I developed a list of the best books for kids to build breath awareness and body awareness so that they have the skills to cope when big feelings take over.
The Best Breathing Books for Kids to Build Breath Awareness
Here are 8 of the best books for kids to build breath awareness and feel present in the moment. If practiced routinely, your kids will build healthy self-care habits early in life and reap the many benefits of reading together.
*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission from the Amazon Service Associates Program.
The Belly Breath is a sweet book about a boy named Cameron who rediscovers how to breathe properly to calm his body and reduce anxiety. His animal friends demonstrate a healthy belly breath and teach Cameron how to breathe by expanding his belly like a balloon on the inhale and narrowing his belly on the exhale. This is the best book for kids to learn HOW to breathe using the right breathing muscles and in a way that will help them feel calm and alert when they need it!
2. Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere
by Kira Willey (Author), Anni Betts (Illustrator)
Ages: 4-8 years old
Breathe Like a Bear is one of the best books for kids to build self-regulation skills present moment awareness. It is a beautifully illustrated collection of kids breathing exercises and mindful moments designed to teach kids how to manage their bodies, breath, and emotions. It highlights 30 simple, short mindfulness practices and movements that can be performed anytime & anywhere: in the car, while shopping, during study breaks, before a challenging task, or even at school.
This is one of my go-to books to help kids build breath awareness and learn strategies to connect and calm their minds and bodies. The imagery and inquiries make it meaningful and help kids connect the dots to use these tools in their own world.
3. Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing
By Christopher Willard PsyD (Author), Daniel Rechtschaffen MA (Author), Holly Clifton-Brown (Illustrator)
Ages: 4-8 years old
Alphabreaths will guide you from A to Z through 26 playful kids breathing exercises to help kids build breath awareness and mindfulness techniques. The kids breathing exercises are fun and engaging; from Alligator Breathing to Cake Breathing, your little ones will immerse themselves in the imagery and fun illustrations to energize or calm their bodies one breath at a time!
4. My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing
By Nick Ortner (Author, Illustrator), Alison Taylor (Author), Michelle Polizzi (Illustrator)
Ages: 4-8 years old
My Magic Breath reminds kids that peace is a breath away! I love this book because it teaches children to breathe out their thoughts and feelings right onto the pages of the book. It introduces the concept of deep breathing as a way to calm oneself when big thoughts and feelings take over.
“Do you have a magic breath? When you are worried, or nervous, or sad, take a deep breath.
Now let it go.
Did that help you feel better?
See? It’s magic!”
Mindful breathing is an excellent tool to help develop self-regulation skills and coping strategies. Make this book part of your daily routine and the next time your child needs to blow off some steam, say, “Let’s find your magic breath!”
5. Breathe with Me: Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, and Happy
by Mariam Gates (Author), Sarah Jane Hinder (Illustrator)
Ages: 4-8 years
Breathe with Me is a delightful book for children who use visualizations, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and kids breathing exercises to help them feel strong, happy, and calm. From waking up with Rainbow Breath to calming down using the exhale in Dandelion Breath, kids will learn body awareness and self-soothing techniques to teach them how to self-regulate. The benefits of reading this book offer a wonderful reminder that our breath is always with us, and we can use it to choose how we want to feel in the moment.
“With one deep breath in and one long breath out, you are on your way!”
6. Crab and Whale: a new way to experience mindfulness for kids
by Mark Pallis (Author), Christiane Kerr (Author), James Cottell (Illustrator)
Ages: 2-8 years old
Crab & Whale introduces the power of being aware of the breath and the body to young children. This delightful tale weaves in principles such as kindness, acceptance, loyalty, curiosity, and patience in a lighthearted tale using a mindful approach.
It concludes with a loving-kindness kids breathing exercise to practice with your children, just like Crab and Whale do in the story.
“Breathing in, I fill up with kindness, breathing out, I smile.”
7. Breathing Makes It Better: A Book for Sad Days, Mad Days, Glad Days, and All the Feelings In-Between
by Christopher Willard (Author), Wendy O’Leary (Author)
Ages: 3-7 years old
Breathing Makes it Better does an excellent job teaching kids how to get in touch with their emotions and how their emotions feel in their bodies.
“When life seems unfair and beyond your control, and your face feels hot and fiery…stop and take a breath.”
Building body awareness is the first step to self-regulation and this book does just that. The multicultural illustrations encourage kids to connect with themselves and to notice and respond to the world around them using their breath.
by Scott Magoon (Author, Illustrator)
Ages: 4-8 years old
Breathe is a beautifully illustrated and playful story about a young whale off on an adventure. It is a story of discovery and independence. The curious whale is immersed in the world around them and explores by seeing, listening, and feeling loved and supported. At the heart of this tale is the gentle reminder to take time to breathe. It is a story of discovery and independence.
How to Practice Deep Breathing
For many kids, just saying “take a deep breath” is not enough. To help them focus, have a prompt or focal point ready to guide them through each inhale and exhale. Add deep breathing to the bedtime routine to build a daily self-soothing practice that calms the mind and body.
Here’s a quick kid’s breathing exercise to introduce slow, deep breathing to calm the body and settle the mind before bed.
Buddy Belly Breathing
How to do it:
- Lie down comfortably on your back and place a BE Buddy® (or favorite stuffed animal) on your belly.
- Feel the weight of the buddy on your belly. Let’s take it for a ride using our breath!
- We will expand the belly up high on an inhale and drop the belly back down on the exhale.
- Now, inhale and watch the belly rise for 4, 3, 2, 1.
- Exhale and drop the belly back down for 4, 3, 2, 1.
- Keep breathing, expanding the belly like a balloon on an inhale, and squeezing the belly back down on the exhale.
- Repeat this slowly 3 more times.
Kids Breathing Exercise Tools and Resources
If you are looking for more breathwork tools to help your kids develop wellness from the inside out, check out our multisensory breathing buddy. With six colorful and engaging characters to choose from, your child will look forward to this time to connect and feel calm.
Breathing Books For Parents
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Here are 6 books you should read if you want to know how the breath affects your mind AND body:
1️⃣ ‘BREATHE’ by @drbelisa
2️⃣ ‘Conscious Breathing’ by Anders Olsson @consciousbreathing
3️⃣ ‘Atomic Focus’ by Patrick McKeown
4️⃣ ‘The Breathing Book’ by Donna Farhi
5️⃣ ‘Breath’ by @mrjamesnestor
6️⃣ ‘Just Breathe’ by @danbruleofficial
RELATED: Choosing books for kids (a guide for parents)
Download my FREE BE Buddy® Practice Guide to help your kids learn healthy breathing habits early in life!
Thanks for reading!
Stephanie Esser | Owner at Balancing Elephants | BE Buddy® (watch video)
P.s. FREE GIFT! Download Breathing Books for Kids PDF
Your turn: Do you practice mindfulness and breathwork with your children? Feel free to share in the comments.