Would you like to incorporate picture books into your kids yoga classes, but feel a little unsure which books would work best? Or maybe you lacking confidence in reading aloud?
I’m excited to introduce my colleague, Jodie Rodriguez, founder and creator of Growing Book by Book. Jodie has been a reading specialist for over 25 years. She’s also a literacy coach and curriculum coordinator.
Jodie shares my deep passion for children’s books, and her website has over 200 lists of themed books that are perfect for planning your themed kids yoga classes.
Jodie and I sat down recently to talk about the benefits of adding picture books to a kids yoga experience and some recommended books that lend themselves beautifully to the yoga and mindfulness practice. Catch our interview in the link below.
4 Benefits of Adding Children’s Books to a Kids Yoga Session:
There is no doubt of the incredible benefits of adding children’s books to your kids yoga class—to the extent that we think every yoga class for young children should include a read aloud. Jodie shares four benefits of adding picture books to your kids yoga experience:
1-Using Books as Something Familiar
When children are new to the yoga practice, trying something new can be very intimidating. Introducing yoga and mindfulness through children’s books can give children a familiar base to springboard from. The children will be so distracted and engaged by the story that they will naturally try the yoga poses. Children love to move, and by adding movement to literature, it makes story time interactive and engaging.
2-Many Books Lend Themselves Well to the Yoga Practice
There are many books on the market today that naturally integrate SEL topics, character education, mindfulness, and movement. You could choose books that reflect the yoga principles, including kindness, gratitude, compassion, or honesty. Or you could grab a themed book that takes students on a yoga pose journey by acting out various animals or things they read in the book.
3-Books Help Increase Memory Retention
By practicing yoga poses through a story, children are more likely to remember the yoga poses later as they recall the story at home—which builds connections from school to home. Acting out stories also helps children to make the yoga moves meaningful and relevant to them, while activating their creativity and imagination. Adding movement to story time helps to activate different parts of their brain and allows them to learn through their mind and body.
4-Books Brings a Sense of Calm and Connection
Reading high-quality books together as a group provides an excellent opportunity to bond and connect. Stories bring people together as a community along an imaginative, captivating journey. A focus on story time helps to shift the energy of the group and bring the students to a calmer, more organized state. Jodie says books provide a “magic reset button” that helps children settle and regulate their emotions.
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3 Top Ways to Capture Attention and Focus of Children During Story Time
We often hear from our Kids Yoga Stories community members that capturing the attention of students in our classes can be difficult, especially now due to our over-scheduled, over-screened, over-sugared lives. As a reading specialist, Jodie shares her tips for helping the children to get excited and involved in the story:
1-Pick an Age-Appropriate Children’s Book
To get started, Jodie emphasizes the importance of choosing just the right book for the ages of the children. If you’re working with a range of ages, you’ll want to choose a book to suit the youngest of the children. Note that some picture books are quite long and may not be suitable for young readers as a read aloud and might not fit their attention span. If you’re unsure of which book to pick, feel free to choose a book that you loved as a youngster to help build your confidence in reading aloud.
2-Practice Reading Book Aloud Beforehand
Practicing reading the children’s book before presenting to the children gives you the opportunity to practice any dialogue voice changes and to get a sense of how long it’ll take to read the book. Adding fun voices to the story helps to capture the attention of the listeners. You could look on YouTube to see if the author has a story time video for the book or check out Storyline Online for books read by professional actors to get some ideas on how to read the story in an appealing way.
3-Be Ready to Pivot According to the Attention of Students
It’s important to read your audience as you are reading aloud. If you are losing the attention of your listeners, then you might want to speak to the pictures and skip some of the text to speed up the reading. Also, it’s okay to pause the story and encourage everyone to sit or lie comfortably to listen to the stories. In a yoga class, they could be on their yoga mats, for example, in a way that feels comfortable, not necessarily sitting criss-cross-applesauce.
6 Recommended Children’s Books for a Kids Yoga Class
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Jodie shares a mix of children’s books that offer us an opportunity to bring both mindfulness and movement to the kids yoga class:
by Sandra V. Feder and Rahele Jomepour Bell
This simple, sweet story is about finding peace and being mindful. You could also practice yoga poses as you read the story. For example, you could practice Tree Pose when the characters are hugging a tree.
Alphabreaths and Alphabreaths Too
by Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen
This book matches various kid-friendly breathing exercises with the letters of the alphabet. You don’t have to read this book from cover to cover. Instead, you could pick out one letter and breath at a time. For example, you might choose the first letter of a student and find their matching letter/breath.
by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
Appealing to range of ages, this book’s illustrations are created in vivid 3D, which is captivating for listeners. The story is about a girl who makes a paperchain listing all the things that she is thankful for in that year. In a yoga class, students could say what they are thankful for or create a paper chain together that expresses their gratitude.
It’s a Tiger!
by David LaRochelle and Jeremy Tankard
This story takes place in the jungle, and there is a lot of built-in movement, like running through the jungle and monkeys swinging through the trees. This book would be a fabulous addition to a jungled-themed preschool yoga class.
by Lucy Ruth Cummins
This is a neat, diverse story of the goings-on in a community pool in a city. This book would lend itself well to a fun pool adventure in a yoga class where you take the children on a pretend fieldtrip to the pool. They can act out what they see and do together.
Trish’s Fall Photography
by Giselle Shardlow, illustrated by Michael Koch
This yoga story follows Trish on a journey capturing photos of the signs of fall, while listeners get to act out what she sees and does on her photography extravaganza. It’s a perfect book to take outside with your children in the fall with your yoga mats. It’s a fun and interactive way to celebrate autumn.
Definitely check out Jodie’s website at www.GrowingBookbyBook.com as a one-stop shop for finding book lists full of high-quality, multicultural, themed, and diverse literature. You could even start with a handful of great books and then create your themed yoga class inspired by those books. Let’s get children reading, learning, and moving together!