Breathe Like a Bear: Mindfulness for kids, Illustrated by me!

I’m SO excited to bring you this latest book project that I illustrated for the publisher Rodale Kids, entitled Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere. It’s written by award-winning children’s singer-songwriter Kira Willey, and it was so much fun to illustrate! It’s a 96-page collection of breathing and movement exercises for kids, designed to help them focus, energize, and relax. I illustrated all 96 pages, which was a big job, but I had such creative freedom and such fun source material, it was a dream assignment. It goes on sale today, and it’s been chosen as one of Amazon’s December Editor’s Picks!

The exercises in the book all use kid-friendly concepts full of animals and things children love, which means they also lent themselves beautifully to being illustrated. For example, the idea of blowing on hot chocolate to cool it off teaches kids slow breathing, and imagining they’re a lion waking up gets them to stretch REALLLY big. It was such a great opportunity to draw things like pigs making funny faces, an owl eating hot soup, and a purple gorilla. Here are a few of my favorite spreads from the book:

I also really enjoyed drawing some of the “extra” elements, like the hand-lettered chapter openers and the smaller spot illustrations that went with the introduction to each chapter.

The author of the book, Kira Willey, specializes in combining upbeat music and yoga for kids, and has an amazing career bringing her brand of motion-plus-music to the world. She’s released four albums of kids songs, created a school program called Rockin’ Yoga, gives talks and workshops around the U.S., and created and hosts Fireflies Yoga for kids on PBS! Her songs are positive and catchy, and one was even used in a Dell computers commercial. Breathe Like a Bear ties in to her latest album, Mindful Moments for Kids.

Not only was it amazing to bring such a talented woman’s words to life, it was also wonderful working with a brand-new children’s imprint. Rodale specializes in the world of health and wellness, and is the publisher behind magazines like Prevention and Runner’s World, and books like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Jessica Alba’s The Honest Life. Rodale Kids is a new imprint under Rodale, and Breathe Like a Bear is among the first titles to be released! Creative director Eric Wight and designer Christina Gaugler were both absolutely wonderful to work with — SO nice, full of helpful feedback and positive comments, and always in favor of creative ideas. Thank you Eric and Christina!

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Breathe Like a Bear (Christmas is just around the corner!) you can buy the book on Amazon, both in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here, or from many brick-and-mortar retailers. I hope all the kids who read it enjoy the exercises and illustrations, and have fun learning to be mindful. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for another book project I’m going to share soon, which even has a Christmas theme!

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1 Response

  1. Amanda says:

    Hello! I am a first grade teacher and LOVE this book and the amazing illustrations! I heard about the book from a few teachers in my building who have also purchased it.
    I have been introducing these activities to my class as we transition or when they need to re-group before or during lessons, but I also have a few students that are working on finding appropriate tools to help calm their bodies independently. I am looking to make a choice board for students with visuals so they can choose some of these mindful activities to try whenever they need to use them. Is there any way to get a copy of just the illustrations to use as visual reminders of what they can do? Thank you!

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