We all need a little bit of calm in our lives right now so I wanted to highlight this gorgeous immersive story which we received towards the end of last year.
Inspired by hypnobirthing, ‘Kaiholo the Whale’ combines words, watercolour illustrations and music to great effect. You scan the QR code on the first page with your phone or tablet to access the music and then read the story whilst it plays in the background. It’s a simple concept but it’s very effective.
The gentle rhyme tells the story of a family of whales as they explore the ocean and sing their songs together. They are a tight, loving family unit and baby Kaiholo worries about what would happen if they were ever separated. His mother explains that they will always be there to protect him, but if they find themselves apart he must look for the light of the stars in the night sky and listen for their voices. The strength of their love will always bring them back together.
Written by mindfulness expert Kathy Walsh, this book encourages children to stay connected to the love and light inside themselves.
The gentle rhyme asks children to consider how it might feel to shine as bright as the stars, to have love flow through your veins and for their joy to light up the world for all to see.
The vivid illustrations take you on a dream-like journey through the night sky. We see children flying through the clouds on giant white birds, sliding down rainbows and communing with nature.
A few weeks ago I shared a collection of books about different kinds of families and a discussion began in my instagram comments about how there aren’t enough books out in the world which depict single mothers. Somebody recommended this one and the author chimed in to confirm that she indeed had single mothers in mind when she wrote the story. Intrigued, I bought a copy and I am so glad I did as it is BEAUTIFUL!
One Autumn evening a young mother bundles her child in to pyjamas, a coat and boots and together they head out in to the crisp night. They are going on a walk to look for the moon! Hand in hand they traverse the city streets, catching brief glimpses of the moon as it hides behind buildings and trees. They talk about stars, reflections, the bustling pavements and the flashes of light from the speeding cars until eventually they return home and the child is tucked up warm and safe in bed.
Reading this book with Ivy feels a little like meditation. The gentle words and muted colours calm us both, making it perfect for a snuggly read at the end of the day.
The gentle rhyme asks us to take time to be still and to observe the world around us. Listen to bird song. Feel the beat of your cat’s heart as it purrs. Look at the vastness of the sky and the stars. Listen to the waves as they lap the shore. It also encourages us to look deeply at each other and to find new ways to be kind and to cherish those around us.
The text is minimal but the illustrations speak a thousand words. Each double page spread shows a child from a different country observing their environment and there is so much detail to explore and discuss. We see diferent types of clothes and modes of transport, cultural traditions and breathtaking landscapes. The countries included are the UK, Alaska, Ecuador, Norway, Russia, Egypt, Tanzania, India, Nepal, China and Japan, so the range is really broad.
It’s Monkey’s birthday and she’s planning a lavish party which she desperately wants to be perfect. She has asked her friends to look after the music, the cake and the decorations so she zips and zooms around the forest in a panic checking on their progress.
Unfortunately nothing is quite right, which sends Monkey in to a tizz. The birds are trying (and failing) to learn the drum beats she wanted, Bear has accidentally baked mud in to the cake and Tapir has got herself tangled up in the decorations. Monkey is in such a flap that she doesn’t stop to help. She just continues to swing around the forest, getting more stressed by the second.
Small children seem to live at 100 miles an hour. These days Ivy talks non-stop and is always on the move. She bounces from game to game, dances, spins and generally makes me feel exhausted just looking at her! This is one of the many reasons that I love to sit and read books with her. For those precious moments, the world stops and it’s just me, her and the story.
If you’re looking for more of those calm moments then this book is a lovely place to start. Mindful Millie is an elephant who is very in touch with the world around her. When she goes for a walk she notices the colour and texture of the leaves on the trees. When she eats she thinks about each of the flavours she can taste. Millie wants to help her friends (and you) to do the same.
Our choice for World Mental Health Day is this lovely book of mindfulness, which encourages children to slow down and connect with the world around them.
Each double page focuses on a sense or emotional state – listening, feeling, relaxing, tasting, touching, discovering, smelling, loving, appreciating and breathing. There is a simple rhyme for each one which encourages your child to stop and anchor themselves in their surroundings or the way they are feeling. Many of the pages also feature a question or instruction which will provoke additional conversation.
The illustrations are both calming and intensely detailed so there are lots of interesting things for your child to take in.
One day little Kaya stumbles across her mother meditating. She is also humming an unfamiliar tune which Kaya finds fascinating. When she asks what it is her mother explains that it is her heart song – the song which her heart sings when she is happy.
Kaya would very much like a heart song of her own but she doesn’t know how to find it so instead she goes out to play. She follows a butterfly in to the jungle and there she finds an old man guarding a broken-down elephant carousel.
Drawn to the elephants, Kaya climbs on top of one to try and free it from some vines. She imagines what it would be like to be a beautiful princess riding the elephant through the jungle and suddenly she hears the soft beat of music in her ear.