It’s Book Sharing Monday from Smiling Like Sunshine! We read a lot of books in this family and I love hearing from other parents when they come across a book that their kids liked. So, I’m going to be adding weekly posts about books that my kids recommend. Feel free to share any you’ve come across that might be a nice complement to the one I’m reviewing
The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story
This book tells the story of Meena as she learns to focus and believe in herself through her practice of yoga. It begins with Meena enjoying painting the sets for her school production of a “new and improved” version of Red Riding Hood, until she spills the paint and feels embarassed.
Then, she finds out that everyone has to perform in the play and is nervous because she feels clumsy. The adults who interact with Meena in the story are good listeners and are supportive, rather than being critical as Meena worries about tripping and stumbling.
Meena and her mother take a trip to the Indian grocery store, where she finds out from her Auntie that there is a children’s yoga class that her Auntie thinks might help Meena with her awkward feelings.
Meena gives it a go. She has trouble focusing in rehearsals and tends to make mistakes in and out of yoga class. But, after a few weeks of practice, she has a thought light up her mind,
I can change my body by how I feel inside. If I am quiet inside, my body will be still. That’s what yoga is really about.
On the night of the performance, Meena trips, stumbles and gets tangled up in her costume. But, she takes deep breaths, focuses and doesn’t let anything bother her. She decides to take what she learned in yoga class with her on the stage and enjoys the performance. She learns that no matter what, she can recreate this feeling for herself whenever she wants to.
The final page in the book shows a few of the key poses that Meena tries in her yoga class and recommends a few yoga books for children. I agree with the list, although the poses shown do not have any instructions on how to do the poses or breathing exercises, which would have been useful.
The illustrations are beautifully colored and the references to Indian culture add a nice flavor to the book. My kids didn’t know what matthi was. So, we went to an Indian grocery store and bought some as a treat. (if you don’t know what matthi is, I highly recommend getting some. It is delicious.)
I knew my 5.5yo son would enjoy this book since he’s into his kid’s yoga class right now and thought my 3.5yo son might, too, since he has been watching more kid’s yoga dvds lately. I was surprised that this book had interest for my 19mo son. But, he asks for this one often. He like to pretend to eat the food on the pages and do down dog when he sees the yoga class. This might not be a typical result for this age, though. My youngest is currently in a love affair with books (that I hope dearly lasts forever) and will read several picture books in a row with me before losing interest.
- Read “Little Red Riding Hood” and talk about the differences between the version they created in this book and the fairy tale. Make up your own endings-the more far-fetched the better.
- Ask your kids to teach a “Red Riding Hood” yoga class to you. They can make up poses for each of the characters and run around the forest acting out the story. Put on your best wolf-face pose!
- Get outside with some trees and practice tree poses. Is there wind blowing the trees around? Do they stand still and tall or droop and sway? Is there yummy fruit or cupcakes growing from your tree to pick? What can you observe about real trees then use your imagination about to create something new.
- Try some movement exercises with feelings. What does mad look like in your body? Or joyful? Or shy? And so on. If your child doesn’t want to move their body, this would also be a great play dough or painting experiment.
- Review of Little Yoga and Sleepy Little Yoga Books (touchstonez.com)
- Namaste! Book Review (touchstonez.com)
- Tiger, Tiger, Is It True? Book Review (touchstonez.com)
- All Children’s Book Reviews on TouchstoneZ (touchstonez.com)
- Babars Yoga for Elephants Childrens Book Review (touchstonez.com)
- Mean Soup Children’s Book Review (touchstonez.com)