The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  Yoshio enjoys hearing the sounds of his Tokyo neighborhood: rain falling on his umbrella, his boots squishing in puddles, his own delighted giggles.  One day he hears a new sound, a woman playing a koto with twinkling, twangy notes.  When she’s through, he asks her what her favorite sound is.  She replies, “The sound of ma, or silence.”  From then on, Yoshio tries to hear the sound of silence, but at home, outside, or in school, there are always other sounds.  Finally, arriving early at school one morning, he sits down and begins to read.  Suddenly, in the middle of a page, he realizes that he is surrounded by silence!  He notices how peaceful it makes him feel, and realizes that the sound of silence has been there all along, running underneath all the other sounds.  An afterword explains the concept of ma and how it has influenced Japanese music and other culture.  40 pages; grades K-3. 

Pros:  A beautiful introduction to some aspects of mindfulness and meditation, and a way to help kids relax and focus on the present moment.  The illustrations show many details of a Tokyo home and neighborhood, and a note at the end explains how they were created using a combination of pen drawings and digital coloring. 

Cons:  This could be a tough concept for young kids to understand.

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