A little girl breathes her “magic breath,” transforming worry and sadness into serenity.
Learning to breathe deeply to find calm can be a wonderful coping tool for children—but not as instructed here. The book states that breathing deeply can help us to “push some of those thoughts away” when we are nervous or sad, a technique that can be augmented by bringing to mind happy thoughts to replace the sad ones. This strategy may be effective, but it is not (as the subtitle states) “mindful,” as true mindfulness practice encourages noticing everything as it is, even the unpleasant parts of life. The advice also seems to assume an audience of relative privilege. For vulnerable children, strategies of intentionally replacing unpleasant thoughts with more favorable ones can, far from bringing peace, actually reinforce destructive messages. Children experiencing abuse or discrimination often receive messages from adults in power that they deserve what is happening to them, so telling such children to simply breathe away their anxiety masks the very real issue underlying the symptom. Even leaving that concern aside, the book has very little to engage young readers. It offers no characters or plot, and most of the illustrations are simple mishmashes of color used to convey happy or sad breaths.
While the use of “mindful” in the title will grab the attention of many, readers seeking tools to truly explore mindfulness with children are better served elsewhere. (Picture book. 4-8)