An earnest introduction to a secular mindfulness practice.
After introducing basic vocabulary and definitions, Stewart explains meditation and breathing techniques using the metaphor of a toolbox. Seven more chapters provide detail about how to apply the tools to the inner self, emotions, thoughts, actions, heart, home, and outside. Some chapters include guided visualizations. Each includes broad journal prompts and encourages the use of the Mindful Me Activity Book (sold separately). The final chapter reminds readers that mindfulness is a practice that takes time and attention. Stewart is careful to not guarantee specific outcomes and leaves the choice of how and when to use the exercises open to readers. Still, repetition of similar points and her earnest tone sometimes come across as preachy. Older children may find the self-conscious, repeated use of the branding phrase “MINDFUL ME,” instead of simply “mindfulness,” patronizing. In the introduction, Stewart claims 12 benefits to mindfulness practice that “scientists and doctors have discovered” but cites no studies or sources to support this assertion. There is a nod to inclusion with illustrations showing a child in a wheelchair and another with glasses, as well as children with varying skin tones and hairstyles. However, middle-class assumptions and values permeate the situations used to explain the technique, as in the assumption that readers will have their own bedrooms, or indeed quiet rooms at all, to retreat to.
Teachers may find this well-meaning guide useful, but it won’t be top-of-mind for most children. (Nonfiction. 8-12)