A Little Space for Me by Jennifer Gray Olson
A Little Space for Me
Review Copy from Roaring Brook Press
While the cover of A Little Space for Me signals a book about mediation, Olson brilliantly never uses the word in her text, allowing readers to interpret the experiences of the narrator individually.
Opening pages show a living room filled with parents, grandparents, siblings and pets. The family is interracial, with the mother and grandparents appearing to be Asian and the father, white. Sitting in the window, looking out at the night sky the narrator says, "Sometimes my life feels very crowded." Noise, mess, heat, smells, brightness, scratchiness and even no reason at all "can just be too much" for her sometimes. She needs some space, so she gets some! Here, Olson plays with the dual meaning of the word space, showing the narrator finding personal space through mediation, while her efforts to create this space are shown on the page with images of the cosmos that expand with the narrator's efforts. When she finally has created her inward space, outer space fills the page. White lines show the narrator using her space to think, breathe, rest, dream and feel. Olson gives her four pages of space before the narrator returns to her family, sharing her new practice with them.
I've reviewed a handful of books on mindfulness and meditation for kids recently, and I appreciate how, in the absence of of the word meditation and the specific naming of difficult feelings, Olson allows readers the opportunity to interpret the narrator's story individually. Using outer space to signal inner space is an especially brilliant way to help readers understand how practicing mediation, finding a way to turn inward thoughtfully can also be expansive.
A Little Space for Me is a superb picture book and a must have for anyone seeking to introduce kids to the practice and benefits of mediation.