This week my pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday comes from my first-grade daughter. On Tuesday, she happily unpacked I AM YOGA from her bag and begged me to read it with her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.
(For a supersized list of links to picture book reviews, check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)
Title: I AM YOGA
Written by: Susan Verde
Illustrated by: Peter H. Reynolds
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015, Fiction
Fun for Ages: 3 and UP
Themes/Topics: Finding calm in a chaotic world; mind-body connection; imagination; creativity
First line: “When I feel small in a world so big, when I wonder how I fit in, when the world is spinning so fast…I tell my wiggling body: be still.”
Brief Synopsis (from publisher): “An eagle soaring among the clouds or a star twinkling in the night sky . . . a camel in the desert or a boat sailing across the sea—yoga has the power of transformation. Not only does it strengthen bodies and calm minds, but with a little imagination, it can show us that anything is possible.
New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and author and certified yoga instructor Susan Verde team up again in this book about creativity and the power of self-expression. I Am Yoga encourages children to explore the world of yoga and make room in their hearts for the world beyond it. A kid-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included.”
Why I Like This Book: With language that is both lyrical and relatable to kids, I AM YOGA illustrates the calming power of yoga poses as well as the power of yoga movements to foster our imagination and creativity. Reynolds’ soft watercolors depict the girl’s transformations as she first calms herself through mountain pose and then moves through poses that set her imagination aloft, allowing her to “touch the sky,” “soar among the clouds,” and “dance with the moon.” As I was reading this story to my daughter, she wanted to try the poses. So I’m happy the back matter includes kid-friendly instructions for striking each pose!
Ideas for Teachers: Last year my daughter’s kindergarten teacher introduced some yoga breathing techniques and restful poses and invited her students to turn to these strategies when they needed to calm themselves. I’ve seen my daughter continue to use these techniques at home. I think teachers could use this book to introduce strategies for finding calm or focus.
Kids might also enjoy learning the adorable Emily Arrow’s I Am Yoga song. You can find the music video by scrolling to the bottom of Susan Verde’s I Am Yoga page: http://susanverde.com/i-am-yoga/