Top 10 Yoga Picture Books for Kids by Kate Olson
Breathe in………breathe out…….now STREEETTTCCCHHH your arms up to the sky. Bring them in front of your chest and….Namaste.
Just typing these words relaxes me and quiets my mind. I found yoga for the first time while training for the Chicago Marathon in 2003, and used it then as a forced flexibility practice on orders from my physical therapist. Since then, I have had periods of deep immersion in yoga for fitness, and times (like now) when I use it as a short relaxation practice in the midst of crazy busy mom/teacher/librarian days. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015, however, that I discovered how much KIDS love yoga too! I was deep into my Yoga with Adriene (just YouTube her – you’ll fall in love) addiction, and my kids would see me on my mat all the time. They didn’t love Adriene as much as I did, but they loved trying to move their bodies as she instructed and having special mats like Mom did. That’s when I dove into the world of children’s yoga, and haven’t looked back since!
I first experimented on my own children, as all quality librarian-moms are wont to do. Given that I am in no way a certified or even competent yoga instructor, I first looked to books. There are some great ones like Storytime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story and Yoga Fun for toddlers, children, & you and Yoga for Kids: On and Beyond the Mat that are very helpful and give great tips if you want to attempt to lead yoga by yourself. My kids had no interest in them or my bumbling attempts, however, so I looked to picture books. My favorites of these are shown below. At home I would read these as bedtime stories, just-to-read-whenever books and some of them, as follow-along guides for my kids. I then transitioned to using these in the library as read alouds before a yoga session with my primary grades.
How, you may ask, do I lead yoga sessions with Grades K, 1 and 2 with my self-described bumbling yoga instruction skills? I used my multimedia wizard abilities and found the amazing, glorious, FABULOUS Cosmic Kids Yoga channel on YouTube! My library yoga sessions now include a picture book followed by a 15-20 minute Cosmic Kids practice. I typically reserve these for an entire yoga unit in the month of May (primary grades in May…..enough said) but will pull them out whenever we need a movement or relaxation day.
Read on to discover some of my favorite read aloud titles about yoga! These fit a wide variety of ages. And yes, there are a few more than 10…..
ABC Yoga by Christiane Engel
(Walter Foster Junior – 2016)
A beautiful board book loosely tying each letter of the alphabet to a yoga pose or concept. Best suited up through kindergarten.
These are billed as toddlers’ first books of yoga and reference “yoga baby” but are still great for using in preschool and kindergarten. And toddlers, of course!
These are both wonderful books that include movement cues and lyrical nature references. Kids always end up chanting along with the “As I breathe in…..as I breathe out” “verses” on each page. Suitable for all elementary grades.
Stretch by Doreen Cronin
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers – August 2009)
While not technically yoga, it fits in perfectly here! Very simple text and cute illustrations about stretching and how animals stretch, where you can stretch. Best up through first grade.
These are a lot of fun, with a yoga-related riddle/verse on each page spread asking children to figure out what yoga pose it is. The answers are revealed and illustrated in the next spread. Appropriate for all elementary grades – higher vocabulary may need to be explained for younger audiences.
I Am Yoga by Susan Verde
(Abrams Books for Young Readers – September 2015)
A beautiful calming story with sparse text and a message about calming the mind in a busy world. A perfect read aloud for all ages.
You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses by Tae-eun Yoo
(Penguin Young Readers – March 2005)
A great one for leading children through poses and comparing poses to the animals and natural objects they are named after. The illustrations are adorable, although best suited for a younger audience.
Yoga for Kids: Simple Animal Poses for Any Age by Lorena V. Pajalunga
(Albert Whitman – December 2015)
A cute story about a boy who takes yoga lessons at a zoo and comes home to demonstrate and explain the poses for his cat. Recommended up through grade three.
Zach and Lucy and the Yoga Zoo by The Pifferson Sisters
(Simon Spotlight – February 2016)
A part of the Ready to Read early reader series, this is a fun story about a brother and sister who observe their mother doing yoga and then decide to teach yoga classes in the basement of their apartment building. Recommended for a read aloud to kindergarten and first grade and depending on reading ability, can be a read-to-self for first and second.
The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami
(Lee & Low – August 2008)
An empowering story of a girl finding self-confidence through yoga and succeeding in a school play because of it. This is best as a read aloud for grades two and up. I’m so sad that I can’t find new copies of this in hardcover anymore, but this link does lead to new paperback copies. This author is one of my favorites.
A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
(Lee & Low – May 2016)
A touching story of a girl and her grandpa learning tai chi and yoga from one another. Colorful and playful illustrations accompany this wonderful story. Recommended for up through grade five.
AND, a bonus chapter book for your tween readers!
Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker (Yoga Girls #1) by Kristina Springer
(Sterling Chilren’s Books – 2016)
A fun tween/early teen story of friendship and romance interspersed with yoga-speak, this will appeal to yoga-loving teens and tweens who like some social media-style formatting in their novels.
I would love to hear from readers about your favorite yoga books as well – please share in the comments below!
Kate Olson is a PK-12 librarian in a small rural school district in Wisconsin, as well as a reviewer for School Library Journal. She lives on the top of a giant hill in the middle of nowhere with her husband, 3 feisty children and a border collie named Max. She can be found on her blog The Loud Library Lady and on Instagram as @theloudlibrarylady and Twitter as @theloud_library.