With the shortest day of the year fast approaching, I have hand selected my favorite books for young + young at heart readers to help shine a little extra light this Children’s Day. Explore the selection below, and / or browse the full list here.
Wishing you and your family so much love this Children’s Day! Children’s Day is celebrated on December 21, the winter solstice. It was created by Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche as an opportunity to express appreciation for the children in the Shambhala community and to bring warmth, joy, and cheer to the darkest time of the year.
“Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were actually people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain. Reading gave me hope. For me, it was the open door.”
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is hands-down one of my favorite books of all time – regardless of genre. In fact, I was recently talking about it with a dear friend of mine who just happens to be a 5th grade teacher and reads it with her class every year around this time. If you read this and don’t tear up, then I just don’t know what to say. It’s got great heart, spirit, insight and lessons worth learning on every page. The author has called it “a meditation on kindness” and I couldn’t agree more. What a lovely way to get into the spirit of the season as a whole and Children’s Day in particular.
Meanwhile Back on Earth + Here We Are: A Book of Animals + What We'll Build: Plans for Our Together Future are but three of my favorite Oliver Jeffers picture books. Each one builds upon the themes of connection, love, cooperation, friendship, and the power of the imagination. What else matters, really?
Music is a Rainbow by Bryan Collier features a young boy whose connection to the beauty of music helps him to learn and grow his way through loss, grief, and the tumult of shifting circumstances. I love this story and I think you and the kiddos in your life will too.
Wild Peace from Irene Latham with illustrations by Il Sung Na is a lush, soothing mindfulness picture book about finding solace from an agitated home life in the natural world.
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona and Gabrielle Prince with illustrations by Carla Joseph is rooted in Indigenous teachings and encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about the impact of their choices.
It seems appropriate at this point to acknowledge the value and power of parenting…not the perfect kind, but the compassionate and open to learning kind. Here’s a link to our online list of resources to help support + inspire your most loving intentions.
“What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.”
I’ve included Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience in previous Book Reports, but I can’t help myself from bringing it into this one as well. What a perfect way to help find our ways back to center after and / or during times of struggle and transition. Brown shares, “I want this book to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves.”
Beautiful News: Positive Trends, Uplifting Stats, Creative Solutions by David McCandless offers simple, elegant ways to see and understand complex, abstract, and often obscured information important to the quality of our lives. The focus of the book draws attention to fascinating positive developments at a time when the world has never seemed more dangerous and unpredictable. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use a hefty dose of that medicine.
Trees: From Root to Leaf by Paul Smith is a beautiful celebration of all that trees have inspired across nearly every human culture throughout history. Generously illustrated with over 450 images and organized according to tree life cycle – from seed and leaves to wood, flowers, and fruit – this book is a deep bow to the great diversity and beauty of the 60,000 tree species with whom we gratefully share this planet.
If your connection to the world of growing things includes indoor gardening, then How to Plant a Room and Grow a Happy Home by Morgan Doane and Erin Harding is for you. Whether you’re a total novice, a newly minted plant parent, or an experienced interior landscaper this is a perfect way to bring more green into your world. Included are fun and easy projects which are beautifully photographed with step-by-step instructions.
Little Book of Caring from Francesca Pirrone is all about caring and friendship – perfect for readers of all ages. Showing that we care is one of the most valuable lessons we can learn – at whatever stage of our journey we may be.
Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World is an anthology of inspirational works by mostly contemporary poets, including Ada Limón, Ilya Kaminsky, Ocean Vuong, Margaret Atwood, Layli Long Soldier, and Reginal Dwayne Betts. For anyone who has wanted to try their hand at a conversation with poetry but doesn’t know where to start, this is just the book to help initiate you into the healing power of the poem.
Another poetry book to try is Kate Baer’s And Yet: Poems. Here, she takes a deep dive into the themes that are the hallmarks of her writing: motherhood, friendship, love, and loss.
How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler offers a fascinating tour of a diverse ecosystem of creatures living, adapting, and surviving in the watery realms of our planet.
The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things from inspirational author and speaker Neil Pasricha reminds us how, in this time of a 24/7 news cycle often reporting such dire news, it’s so easy to forget the things that make us smile…the everyday things and experiences that lift us up. For example, popping bubble wrap, fixing electronics by smacking them, hitting a bunch of green lights in a row, and so on.
This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas is a journey into the science and soul of music that reveals the secrets of why your favorite songs move you. Rogers explains that we each possess a unique “listener profile” based on our brain’s natural response to seven key dimensions of any song. For example, are you someone who prefers lyrics or melody? Do you like music “above the neck” (intellectually stimulating), or “below the neck” (instinctual and rhythmic). Could it be time to review and refresh your playlist?
The Sacred Balance, 25th Anniversary Edition: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature by David Suzuki with a foreword by Robin Wall Kimmerer and an afterword by Bill McKibben reflects on the increasingly radical changes in science and nature – from the climate crisis to peak oil and the rise in clean energy – and examine what they mean for humankind. Included are teachings from Indigenous leaders, whose knowledge of the natural world is profound, and whose peoples are on the frontlines of protecting land and water around the world.
I love this Woodland Journal for its beauty and inspiration with charming original watercolor illustrations of mushroom and wildflowers, frogs and ferns, butterflies and rabbits, and more. The foil-stamped cloth cover complements the whimsical endpapers, and a ribbon marker keeps your place.
Go Fish: A 3-in1 Card Deck illustrated by Oliver Jeffers turns the classic game of Go Fish into irresistible fun for kids and adults alike. The deck is comprised of 52 oversized, kid-friendly cards (plus two instruction cards) tucked into a sturdy cardstock box. With a flip-top lid and Velcro enclosure, the game is easily portable and accessible. In addition to playing Go Fish, players will get instructions for two bonus games for the cards: Concentration (a memory game) and Snap (similar to Slapjack).