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The Best Buddhist Kids Books

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Stone Soup
Written & illustrated by Jon J Muth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An award-winning artist adds a Zen twist to a favorite tale. As three monks travel along a mountain road, they encounter villagers ravaged by harsh times, making them cold to strangers. When the monks entice them to make soup from stones, the villagers discover how much they have to give. Full color.

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All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.
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The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Written by His Holiness The Dalai Lama & illustrated by Bao Luu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For the first time ever, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses children directly, sharing lessons of peace and compassion, told through stories of his own childhood.

One of today’s most inspiring world leaders was once an ordinary child named Lhamo Thondup. In a small village in Tibet, his mother was his first great teacher of compassion. In everyday moments from his childhood, young readers begin to see that important lessons are all around us, and that they, too, can grow to truly understand them.

With simple, powerful text, the Dalai Lama shares the universalist teachings of treating one another with compassion, which Bao Luu illustrates beautifully in vibrant color. In an increasingly confusing world, The Seed of Compassion offers guidance and encouragement on how we all might bring more kindness to it.

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Zen Shorts
Written & illustrated by Jon J Muth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Michael,” said Karl. “There’s a really big bear in the backyard.” This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth – and Stillwater the bear – present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.<br></br>

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Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems
Written by Kate Coombs & illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Hear thunder crash, feel your toes touch sand, and watch leaves drift softly away on a quiet stream. The simple poems in Breathe and Be help children learn mindfulness as they connect to the beauty of the natural world.

Mindfulness teaches us how to stay calm, soothe our emotions, and appreciate the world around us. Whether we’re watching tiny colored fish darting in the water or exploring the leaves, branches, and roots of a towering tree, the thoughtful words and the lovely art of Breathe and Be remind us how much joy we can find by simply living with awareness and inner peace.

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  • The Dalai Lama - By award-winning picture book author Demi, this is a fully illustrated nonfiction picture book that tells the story of the search for the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Now in paperback for the first time, with a foreword written by The Dalai Lama himself. When the thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1933, the highest holy men in Tibet searched throughout the land for his successor. They were spiritually guided to the humble dwelling of a loving family high in the Himalayas. When the search party greeted the youngest son, the child told them, “Now I am going home!” At last the fourteenth Dalai Lama had been found, and at the age of two, the young boy was taken to the capital city, Lhasa, where he began his training to become the spiritual leader of Tibet. The work of the Dalai Lama and the fate of Tibet are topics of evergrowing international focus. In simple language and glorious art, Demi pays tribute to the fourteenth Dalai Lama’s remarkable life. She captures the beauty of Tibetan culture, as well as the charm, talent, and vision of one of the world’s best-known spiritual figures.

  • Buddha - A nonfiction picture book with full-color illustrations about the life of the Buddha, from award-winning author and illustrator Demi Many centuries ago, in a kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, a miraculous child was born to the king and queen. The young prince, Siddhartha, was raised in the greatest luxury, sheltered from all pain and ugliness. But one day Siddhartha left the palace and saw, for the first time, human suffering and death. He knew then that he must relinquish everything– his family, his wealth, his position– to discover the Truth of life and death. With only a few humble possessions, he began a remarkable spiritual journey that ended many years later under a bodhi tree. There he finally discovered the Truth and became an Enlightened One, a Buddha. The Buddha taught the Truth and the path to inner peace for forty-five years, attracting thousands of disciples. Today millions of people around the world live by his teachings. Demi’s exquisite illustrations, inspired by the paintings and sculptures of several Asian cultures, are layered with meaning; each brush stroke has a special significance. Demi, herself a Buddhist, brings her devotion to the teachings of the Buddha and her vast knowledge of his life to this comprehensive picture-book biography of an extraordinary spiritual leader.

  • Ziji - Children will love learning the calming power of meditation alongside Ziji, a playful puppy. Ziji is a noisy, bouncy puppy who lives with the Anderson family: Mom, Dad, Jenny, and Baby Jack. He loves to bark and play and—most of all—chase pigeons in the park. Then one day, Ziji sees a new boy from Jenny’s school, Nico, sitting in the park. What is Nico doing? Why does he look so calm and happy? Ziji can’t wait to find out. This book, written by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, one of the new generation of Tibetan Buddhist masters, will teach your child the basics of meditation in a fun and engaging way. Included after the story is a guide for parents and teachers with more information on what meditation is and how it can be helpful as well as suggestions on how children can continue to practice meditation on their own.

  • Buddha Stories - A golden goose demonstrates the wealth of kindness. A rabbit learns not to believe everything he hears. Throughout the ages, moral tales have been passed down from one generation to the next. Centuries ago in China, hundreds of parables were told by the Buddha to his devoted followers. His messages became widespread through fables adapted by famous storytellers like Aesop and La Fontaine. In this collection, the author has chosen ten of the most engaging classic tales from the Buddha’s works. Compiled and illustrated by Demi, this wonderful collection of stories is sure to draw young readers into the ancient teachings of the Buddha, teachings that are as relevant today as they were over two thousand years ago.

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The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales
Written & illustrated by Mark W. McGinnis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A picture book of Taoist wisdom tales inspired by the ancient philosopher Chang Tzu, for children ages 5-10, beautifully illustrated with original artwork.

“If we are true to who we are, we will naturally find what is right.” “Beauty is in the eyes and mind of the beholder.” “What is good in life is not always obvious.”

These morals are inspired by the teachings Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu (fourth century b.c.e.), who through charming and sometimes cryptic fables explained to his students the qualities of humility, modesty, simplicity, acceptance, and contentment. In “The Sea Turtle and the Frog,” two creatures share their unique perspective on the world. “The Happy Fish” offers a reflection on what makes for a good leader. And “The White Peacock” demonstrates the virtues of a simple life rather than one adorned with material riches.

Beautifully illustrated in the traditional Asian style by artist Mark McGinnis, this book collects thirty-three of these traditional Taoist wisdom tales that will teach readers young and old about the Taoist view of living in harmony with the natural world.

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The Cat Who Went to Heaven
Written by Elizabeth Coatsworth & illustrated by Raoul Vitale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Newberry Medal Winner

This timeless fable has been a classic since its first publication in 1930, and this beautifully reillustrated edition brings the magic and wonder of the tale to a new generation of readers.

In ancient Japan, a struggling artist is angered when his housekeeper brings home a tiny white cat he can barely afford to feed. But when the village’s head priest commissions a painting of the Buddha for a healthy sum, the artist softens toward the animal he believes has brought him luck.

According to legend, the proud and haughty cat was denied the Buddha’s blessing for refusing to accept his teachings and pay him homage. So when the artist, moved by compassion for his pet, includes the cat in his painting, the priest rejects the work and decrees that it must be destroyed. It seems the artist’s life is ruined as well—until he is rewarded for his act of love by a Buddhist miracle.

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Little Sid
Written by Ian Lendler & illustrated by Xanthe Bouma
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this charming and accessible picture book, Ian Lendler and Xanthe Bouma offer a heart-warming account of the childhood of the Buddha. A spoiled young prince, Siddhartha got everything he ever asked for, until he asked for what couldn’t be given—happiness. Join Little Sid as he sets off on a journey of discovery and encounters mysterious wise-folk, terrifying tigers, and one very annoying mouse. With Lendler’s delightful prose and Bouma’s lyrical artwork, Little Sid weaves traditional Buddhist fables into a classic new tale of mindfulness, the meaning of life, and an awakening that is as profound today as it was 2,500 years ago.

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The Day the Buddha Woke Up
Written by Andrea Miller & illustrated by Rima Fujita
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The heart of the Buddha’s story in a handful of words— beautifully illustrated by a world-renowned artist. The Day the Buddha Woke Up is a board book that will captivate children of all ages. It’s the perfect way to introduce young children to the story of the Buddha—the clear, gracefully written story puts the Buddha’s awakening into language children can understand. The simple arc of the Buddha’s questions, his quest, and his ultimate understanding will provide a meaningful and peaceful story that children—and their parents!—will love returning to again and again.

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Ziji and the Very Scary Man
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Help kids learn to face their fears and self-soothe with this adorable puppy companion. Ziji is a bouncy puppy who lives with the Anderson family: Mom, Dad, Jenny, and Baby Jack. He loves to play and chase balls in the park with Jenny and their friend Nico. Then one day, an angry man shouts at Ziji and scares him so much he never wants to go back to the park again. Can Nico show him how to calm his mind and face his fears? Renowned meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche shows young children how following our breath can calm us down—and how practicing compassion shows us that even Very Scary Men can be frightened sometimes too. A detailed appendix gives further guidance for parents.

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