Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
Great Big Breath by DW Long is an excellent children's book with practical applications.
The core of this book is the power of breathing (particularly deep, controlled breathing) to help to alleviate tense or uncomfortable feelings/situations.
This is absolutely, positively an effective method of dealing with stress and anxiety. We've used it ourselves! With a yoga instructor and competitive strength athlete in our ranks, we can confirm that deep breathing holds a special power. It's a practice that goes unacknowledged or used most of the time. Many people take very shallow, sporadic breaths. Their bodies are constantly starved for oxygen. This presents a major problem for people because oxygen is our foremost necessity for the sake of our lives and health! It even takes priority over water and food!
Like we alluded to before, breathing techniques like this are useful in yoga and strength sports. In yoga, breathing is a major focus with practitioners instructed to inhale and exhale at key points during poses. In strength sports, the valsalva maneuver (holding a deep, big breath) is used to help keep the core rigid and protect the spine during heavier movements.
This book follows Quinn, a cute, cuddly little monkey. You also get to meet his mom and dad.
Right off the bat, this is a very charming and appealing book for children. They will immediately be able to relate to Quinn and his parents. Part of that is that the art is very cute and charming, and the other part is that the writing is very simple and accessible. It flows well... for the most part.
There are moments near the first quarter of the book when the narrative seems to get distracted. For example, there's a moment when Quinn just seeks a “quiet place” where he escapes into his imagination. Then, the narrator says that we'll get back to that later. This happens twice. Now, with a little mental gymnastics, we figured out that this part of the plot is supposed to show that Quinn is an anxious person with social anxieties, however, it's really hard to gather that from the initial reading. The first time you read this, you'll likely either be distracted by how cute Quinn is or think nothing of it.
After the first 25% of the book, it flows very well. One event leads to another event naturally.
Something great about this book is that it provides practical examples of when deep breathing can be effective. It can be used when you're mad, sad, anxious, nervous, or scared.
At the end of the book, there are even instructions on how best to read and use the book along with your children/students. We kinda wished that some of these instructions were mentioned earlier (so that we could follow them in our first reading), but it's ok. You are told to inhale when the book uses one key word/phrase and to exhale when it uses another.
All in all, this is a fantastic little children's book.
Check it out on Amazon!