Children's Books

Books for the Whole Family

Books for 8 and under

Books for Ages 8 to 12

Books for Teens

  • Buddha (manga) by Osuma Tezuka published by Tezuka productions, 2003.
  • Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens by Dianna Winston, Perigee book, 2003
  • Zen Speaks: Shouts of Nothingness by Tsai Chih Chung translated by Brian Bruya.
  • Wisdom of the Zen Masters by Tsai Chih Chung translated by Brian Bruya.
  • Buddha Boy (novel) by Kathe Koja published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (2003) grades 6-10
  • Rebel : A Tibetan Odyssey (novel) by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel
    grades 5-8
  • The Way of Youth: Buddhist Common Sense for Handling Life's Questions by Daisaku Ikeda (Soka Gakkai International) published by Middleway Press (2000)

Books about Buddhism and Other Religions

Reviews are welcomed. Send toFamily Dharma Connections: ( fd at )



The Monkey Bridge

I Once was a Monkey

Zen Speaks


Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas by Naomi C. Rose published by Clear Light Publishing, 2004
Picture Book
Note from the author: Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas (published by Clear Light Publishers) is a 64-page picture book featuring three illustrated Buddhist wisdom tales from Tibet. Each story, told in English and Tibetan, offers a fun, enchanting glimpse of Tibetan culture. The stories also impart simple wisdom and exemplify living in peace and kindness. The book includes a foreword from the Dalai Lama as well as a glossary, map, and a description of a Tibetan chant. As the Dalai Lama said, young and old will enjoy this lovely book!

Kindness:  A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover illustrafed by Valarie Wahl published by Eastern Washington University Press, Spokane, Washington. 2001 

A wonderful book of Buddhist lessons with Jataka tales, stories, anecdotes and saying from the Buddha's life and teachings and other Buddhist stories.  An ideal book to read outloud to children of all ages. 

The Kingfisher Book of Religions: Festivals, ceremonies, and beliefs from around the world by Trevor Barnes published by Kingfisher, 1999

Summary of major religions around the world including Buddhism.  Beautifully illustrated with photos and artwork. Great book for exploring other religions with children.

The Prince Who Ran Away by Anne Rockwell illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001

Colorfully illustrated story of Gautama Buddha's life from prior to his birth to his death though most of the story is up to his enlightenment. Includes some of the mythology about his birth, and temptation by Mara in his adult life.

Parallax press has recently published two books for kids. One is called A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hahn. It is recommended for kids ages 8-12. The other book is called Each Breath a Smile by Sister Thuc Nghiem and Thich Nhat Hahn for kids ages 3-6. I haven't seen either book but if they are like anything
else by TNH, they are wonderful. For more information see their website Parallax Press

Places of Worship: Buddhist Temple by Angela Wood, Gareth Stevens Publishing, Milwaukee, 2000
Part of a series of Places of Worship which explore different religions. This picture book explains Buddhism on a child's level (preschool to lower elementary). Excellant book.

The Wisdom of Crows and Other Buddhist Tales retold by Sherab Chodzin & Alexandra Kohn, Illustrated by Marie Cameron, Tricycle Press, Berkeley, 1997
Stories included:  The Living Kuan Yin,  The Most Important Thing, The Man Who Didn't Want to Die, Useless Work, The Conch Maiden, The Wisdom of Crows, the Stone Ape, Where are You Going, Angulimal the Brigand, Learning to Be Silent, Goodheart and the Goddess of the Forest, The Death of Teacup, the Foolish Boy.

Learning from the Dalai Lama: Secrets of the Wheel of Time by Karen Pandell with Barry Bryant, Photos by John B. Taylor, Dulton Children's Books, New York, 1995.
Lessons:  Basics of Tibetan Buddhism, Mandalas
Chapters:  How Did Buddhism Begin?  Tibetan Buddhism and the Teachings of Kalacharkra,  The Search for and Discovery of The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, The Teenage and Adult Years of the Dalai Lama, A Mandala in New York City, Entering the Wheel of Time, Peace Flows into the World, Drawing a Mandala, Creating a Sand Mandala
Comments:  Good introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.  Excellenat step by step instructions for creating a sand mandala.

The Monkey Bridge by Rafe Martin, illustrated by Fahimeh Amiri; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,  New York, 1997.
Lessons:  Compassion and wisdom.   Sharing.
Synopsis:  The Monkey King and his people live in the Treasure Tree where the most delicious fruit grows.  The fruit of the Treasure Tree brings humans to the tree.  When the human king orders the monkeys kill, the Monkey King saves his people by becoming a monkey bridge to another tree.  The human king is impressed by his compassion and saves the monkey king in return.  The human king learns a lesson and the monkey king shares his fruit.

The Brave Little Parrot, by Rafe Martin, Illustrations by Susan Gaber; G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1998
Lessons: Acting with Compassion.   Sometimes miracles happen when we continue what seems like hopeless efforts.
Synopsis: A fire comes to the forest.  The little parrot tries to encourage the safe animals by the river to help put out the fire with water from the river, but they see it as hopeless.  Still the little parrot tries putting out the fire with drops of water.  A god in the sky sees his efforts.  He sheds tears which put out the fire and heal the animals.

I once was a Monkey:  Stories Buddha Told  by Jeanne M. Lee;   Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999

Jataka Tales:  The Foolish Forest Sprite,  The Deceitful  Heron, The Monkey and The Crocodile, The Flight of the Beasts (sky is falling), The Wise Dove, Three Friends in a Forest

A monkey, a turtle, a jackal, a dove, a lion are all stuck in a cave during the monsoon with a Buddha statue that tells them Jataka tales.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth JaneCoatsworth;  New York : Macmillan, 1930. Newberry Award Winner
   A poor Japanese artist adopts a cat.  The artist is commissioned to paint a picture of the death of Buddha.  The car brings good fortune to the artist and in the end is rewarded by becoming a part of the painting.

I Am Buddhist by Daniel P. Quinn. Part of Religions of the World Series, Power Kids Press, 1996 (24 pages)

Picture book on being Buddhist. Great introductory book for small children. Covers: Being Buddhist. Prayer, Refuges in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Karma, Guan Yin, Buddha Day, Honoring Ancestors, The Sutras.

Buddha Stories by Demi published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997

Another beautifully illustrated book by Demi. Eleven Jataka tales including The Lion King, The Turtle and the Geese, The Black Bull, The Beautiful Parrots and others.
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One Hand Clapping: Zen stories for all ages by Rafe Martin, distributed by St. Martin's Press, 1995

Delightful short zen tales that can be enjoyed by children and adults. Some of the tales may make small children say "Huh?" since the endings are not like those of the western tales we are so accustomed. Popcorn for the mind.
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Buddha by Demi published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1996

Beautifully illustrated storybook of the Life of the Buddha and some of his teachings. Many of the legends of the Buddha's life are also presented in this book.
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Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hahn, Parallax Press, 1991

The life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha are beautifully retold in this book. Although this book is not specifically aimed at children, it is appropriate for any age level. It is a long book but can be read chapter by chapter to children. The book also contains many stories told by Gautama Buddha which are aimed specifically at children.
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Zen ABC illustrated by Amy Zerner and Jessie Spicer Zerner, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc, 1993

From Awakening to Zen, this book presents words for Zen with beautiful illustrations, koans, haiku, and other short readings. "Zen ABC" gives a starting point for discussions with children and adults.

Zen Speaks: Shouts of Nothingness by Tsai Chih Chung translated by Brian Bruya, Anchor Books, 1994.

Wisdom of the Zen Masters by Tsai Chih Chung translated by Brian Bruya. Anchor Books, 1998

Many Zen stories are told within these twobook which are illustrated in comic strip fashion. I found the books to be  wonderfully delightful. Good book for older children and teens
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Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens by Dianna Winston, Perigee book, 2003. Part one of this book presents a background of Buddha and his teachings. A section on Meditation to several sections of living life including topics for teens on emotions self judgment, wise speech, sex, intoxicants, right livelihood.

Buddha (manga) by Osuma Tezuka published by Tezuka productions, 2003. Buddha is a series of books in Manga (Japanese graphic novel) format. Book one follows the life of Tatta of the lowest class in India during the time of the Buddha's birth intertwining Buddhist lessons. Interspersed throughout are the happenings of the Buddha's family leading up to his birth.(Book does contain mild swearing and some nudity.)

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