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Books about Buddhism for Children and Teens

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  • Books about Buddhism for Children and Teens

    One way to help solidify or spark an interest in meditation practice by children is to help teach them about Buddhism and the story of the Buddha. I think that forms a solid basis for showing the benefits of meditation, and also makes it less easy for children to rebel against meditation as "just something weird my mom or dad does." Here are some of my favorites -- all purchased and test-driven at home over the years...
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ID:	29227 Prince Siddhartha
    This is a lovely retelling of the life story of the Buddha. It is perfectly appropriate for children yet does not gloss over any details some people may find a little squeamish for kids (like his prolonged starvation-ascetic period, the depiction of a funeral procession, etc). To this day my children will still refer to the story about Siddhartha's protection of the swan shot by Devadatta, and I doubt even my 12-year old would object to listening to the book one more time (as long as her younger brother was the one "officially" being read to). I found myself at times having a hard time reading the book to my children as my voice started to crack with emotion during some of the most moving parts. It really helped to spark some good conversations with my children about the dhamma and the path. An easy 10/10 on the "exquisiteness" scale. Details
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ID:	29228 I Once Was A Monkey
    This is a series of 5 retold Jataka tales skillfully linked together by a story of five animals seeking shelter (refuge!) from a storm in a dark cave. They find that it is an abandoned temple, and a Buddha statue in the corner helps ease their difficult and possibly dangerous situation by retelling the Jataka tales. Incredibly tastefully illustrated and elegantly written (possibly a bit too elegantly for the very young), this is truly a delightful book. I had to simplify some of the more ornate language back when my son was a pre-schooler, but it wasn't hard to do at all "on the fly." Details
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ID:	29233 The Three Questions
    Readers of Ajahn Brahm's book "Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung" (AKA everywhere but in the USA as "Open The Door of Your Heart") will recognize this story, originally told by Tolstoy. "When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?" This is good one to sneak into the homes of your non-Buddhist friends, as well, since there's no overt Buddhist content. Details
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ID:	29229 Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens
    Bought this one for my daughter, who is 12, and put it in her room but warned her she wasn't old enough to read it yet, not being a teen. I'm quite sure it's been read by now! Details

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ID:	29230 Dharma Punx
    For older teens and young adults, probably ages 18-25, I would highly recommend "Dharma Punx" by Noah Levine. This is the story of of how the author went from being a drug and alcohol addicted punk rock rage machine with no direction in life despite having a famous meditation teacher for a father, to someone hesitantly taking the first steps (in jail after an arrest) as a last resort before literally giving up on life all together.

    He details his spiritual quest, rocky and uneven at first, but then increasingly propelled by a slow unstoppable force, eventually leading to a recovery program and several 3-month insight meditation retreats. He later was encouraged by people such as Ajahn Amaro and Jack Kornfield to finish college, go to grad school and finally start a rigorous 5-year training program to become a meditation teacher at Spirit Rock in California. He still leads an active meditation group in Los Angeles (againsthestream.org). Not for those afraid of tatoos and at times sordid descriptions of the pointlessness of teenage sex and drug use. Details
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ID:	29231 Buddha in Your Backpack:
    "Everyday Buddhism for Teens" is a good, no-nonsense book for teenagers which doesn't talk down to them. In fact I would say it is a fine book for anyone from 11-99. Details
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ID:	29232 Moody Cow Meditates
    I admit I haven't read or purchased this one. My kids are a bit too old for it, but it really looks like a winner for the age 3-7 set. Details
    And finally, I would like to also recommend Sarah Napthali's series of three books all of whose titles begin with the words Buddhism for Mothers. I've only read one (even though I'm not included in the title -- why not Buddhism for Parents?) but the author seems genuinely a decent person with good advice. Someone recently described parenthood as, "My 18 year retreat." I think that was in one of the blogs on the Tricycle magazine website.

    Anyway, I invite anyone with kids, to recommend their own "Kids Dhamma Library" in the forum...

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