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Favorite All Zen Children's Books for Teaching Valuable Lessons

As humans we learn best when the new information can be connected to something we already know, which is what makes stories so powerful. These books offer big lessons for little people.

While we are fortunate to have quite the library of children's books, these ones all stand out as extra important for one main reason - they aren't just cute or fun to read, they hold valuable lessons that I want my children to learn.

So while reading in general is awesome for development and connection, these stories carry an extra weight of imparting information and wisdom that takes most adults a lifetime to learn. I'm all about giving my kids a leg up on life!

Jabari Tries

I love this book for so many reasons. It gets immediate points for the construction costume, making it automatically appealing to my son, but is a favorite of mine for the modeling of emotional expression of a child paired with the ideal parental response and the growth mindset to try, try, try again.

Kids can learn to recognize their emotions as the physical sensations in their bodies - and parents get a top notch example of how to handle our children's big emotions. Win - win.

Also worth checking out is the story, Jabari Jumps - where the same set of characters show facing fears, again with great modeling and emotional recognition.

You Are a Lion

This book offers a great way for kids to learn some basic yoga poses. Using animal poses, there are a few lines as well as some illustrations of children in the poses - connecting something they already know to the thing they are learning. It's a super simple way to introduce this modality of movement to young kids and they may even work through the sequence while you read.

The Color Monster

This book teaches children to associate their emotions to colors and different sensations. This is a skill that as adults we take for granted, but as my man Daniel Siegal would say, "you have to name it to tame it." Teaching children how to identify what they are feeling is a major part of helping them develop emotional intelligence.

We also have this super cute felt activity that was inspired by the book, which is a fun tactile way to talk about the ideas in the book, or just work on color sorting.

Buckets, Dippers and Lids

My daughter really latched on to this book after we first introduced it. It offers a metaphorical view of how we can both spread and protect our own positive energy. It gives real life examples that kids can relate to and gives them tools for dealing with difficult situations.

Seeds and Trees

This story provides children with the imagery to understand how our thoughts, words and deeds have an impact on the world. We can either plant good seeds or bad seeds and it takes a lot of work to undo the planting of bad seeds.

Little Cloud

I have tried many a meditation or mindfulness exercise with my children, and while I think in a school or program setting they would participate differently, with me they basically run away laughing. I love this little book because it plants the seed for a mindfulness activity (watching clouds) in the mind of the child. After reading this a few times they are usually asking me to play the game with them.

Planting a Rainbow

This book is not only beautiful and fun to look through, it offers kids with another mindfulness exercise to try - watching things grow. It helps foster some intrinsic motivation when I invite them to work in the garden and it gets them excited about the process of patiently waiting to see things bloom.

In My Heart

This book covers some basic emotions and gives kids the language to help describe them. Despite being a large size, the board book structure makes it perfect for even the tiniest of readers and the heart shaped cutouts make it fun and tactile.

You Matter

The name kind of says it all, but this book sends the clear message that a person's worth is not determined by anything other than existing.

Tough Guys

I really love the illustrations in this one. This book clearly shows that even the people we see as super tough and strong, have big feelings and cry. As we leave toxic masculinity behind, this book is super helpful in showing our young minds that all people feel things like sadness and are not invincible to emotional pain.

You Belong Here

I love this book so much. It offers such a sweet rhythmic read with the reassurance that you belong here, with me. Love and belonging are innate human needs and we can never make our kids feel them too much. Such a heartwarming way to connect and make sure your little ones know they are safe and cared for.

We Found a Hat

Extra points because this one has a hint of humor. This story shows fairness and of caring as much about the feelings of others as we do about our own wants and desires. It exemplifies friendship and the beauty that comes from putting connection first.

My Strong Mind

This book teaches resilience and has some very practical tools that can be applied for kids and adults. It also offers some extra information for caregivers on teaching kids to have a growth mindset and my daughter really loves it.

The Koala Who Could

This rhyming tale of Kevin the Koala (very fun to read with an Aussie accent), gives a wonderful example of how limiting fear can be and also how liberating it can be to overcome it. A family favorite in our home.

What would you add? Do you have any favorite children's books that teach life lessons? Share in the comments below!

Peace and happy reading,