I believe that all kids are smart, brave, kind, and creative, and I write books to help them remember that.
As an Author and Psychotherapist for children and adults, I'm dedicated to making a difference in people's lives and to helping them realize their power and potential.
We all make sense of our lives in different ways: some use facts, some use beliefs, and some use ways unique and all their own, but no matter how we each make sense of life, there is something that connects us ALL.
Call it love.
Call it hope.
Call it wonder.
Call it ice cream!
But it's there and we sense it. My books celebrate this connection we all share: to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to our world.
I hope these tools unleash your greatness and bring you joy.
"Flowing rhyme and illustrations as bold as the ideas make this abstract concept approachable...A positive and calming guide for those who are looking inward."
- Kirkus Reviews
Clyfford Still gives kids the blueprint for fulfilling their dreams, finding their voices, and expressing their lives through creativity. Going beyond biographical information, the book ventures into the artist’s emotional world: his motivations, challenges, and discoveries. Colorfully Courageous asks children to engage with Still’s process of discovering who he was through art and the idea that everyone can find courage in their own voice.
“Sharks rule!” “That’s gross.” “I love tofu.” “Is she from Montreal?”
Whether our thoughts are happy, sad, weird or excited, they come
in a constant flow. Just a Thought introduces kids 4–8 to the way thoughts shape our actions. Through self-awareness and making friends with our thoughts, we can learn to navigate our beautiful minds.
Four friends think they know everything there is to know about trees, but when they really start looking...they're not so sure. A book about wonder, seeing things newly, and embracing what we don't know. A collaboration with Genjō Yorke, illustrated by Skye Ali. Published by Eifrig Publishing
Whether you've got hands, hooves, scales or fur, all beings want love, safety, and respect. And while we might not look the same, we have more in common than you think.
Why should we care about someone in Japan? Or an elephant in Nigeria? Or the environment in Brazil? Because everything is connected and because YOU are part of everything. Beautifully illustrated, Everything is Connected invites kids to consider the connection between all things.
Illustrated by Ignasi Font.
The Fountain Tarot features lush, ethereal paintings by artist Jonathan Saiz, rainbow holographic packaging by designer Andi Todaro, and an intimate guidebook by writer Jason Gruhl that teaches you how to read the cards and how to use them as a tool for introspection, empowerment, and connection.
As a companion to the best-selling Tarot deck, or a stand-alone journal, The Fountain Tarot Journal is a journey of discovery across 52 readings. Use the examples or create your own, this versatile journal will allow you to clear your path and create a life of mindfulness and intention
When fox has a lot to think about, he goes on walks...and on this particular night, he has a LOT to think about. Where will it take him and what will he discover?
Paintings/Illustrations by Johnny DeFeo
When Eli comes up one blueberry short for breakfast, he and his pet hedgehog head out into crowded world to find it. But can a young boy with autism handle all that unpredictability? A book about bravery, kindness, and letting people surprise you.
Some titles can't be listed quite yet just because they are:
a. under contract and haven't been officially announced, or
b. top, top secret (wink). Check back soon for new titles!
Interview with Shawn Francis on One Whole Life Media
Shawn and I cover the gamut: children's books, meditation, death, technology, and what it means to be a human...
Everything is Connected
Read by Anastasia DuPree
Yoga by Lauren Moon @Yogiful
Written by Jason Gruhl
Illustrated by Ignasi Font
Published by Bala Kids
Distributed by Penguin Random House
Everything is Connected
Read by Jason Gruhl
Illustrated by Ignasi Font
Published by Bala Kids
Distributed by Penguin Random House
The children’s book “Everything Is Connected” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to blobfish. They’re slimy, stinky, scaly and about as loathsome as an animal might get. And yet, as the book points out, they just happen to be our cosmic cousins, sharing our universe — our water, air and resources — alongside our brothers and sisters, our pets, parents, trees, the sky and even other planets. Understanding the scheme of all things is just a matter of looking around, taking stock, seeing your own place among all the atoms that surround you.
Can kids do that?
Author Jason Gruhl thinks so. So does his publisher, Boulder-based — and Buddhism-inspired — Shambhala, which sells books the world over by such deep thinkers as the Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard and Pema Chödrön. “Everything Is Connected” is the debut offering from its new imprint, Bala Kids, the 50-year-old company’s first official move into the children’s market.
Mindfulness might seem like a big concept for young readers, especially the ones who can’t yet see the big-picture benefits of eating their vegetables or pushing pause on video games to do their homework. But “we feel like children can get adult stuff,” said Ivan Bercholz, who heads up the family-owned publishing house with his sister, Sara Bercholz. Shambhala books are distributed through Penguin Random House.
“Everything Is Connected,” which is illustrated by Barcelona artist Ignasi Font, gives children a logical path to junior enlightenment. It starts out small by reminding kids of their own physicality, linking them to their “hands and eyeballs, teeth and toes,” then moves them outward to things like “buildings and bicycles, buses and balloons,” then eventually into outer space.
The journey isn’t limited to the world that can be seen and touched. There are connections to the past and to the future and to spirituality, to “Jesus and Buddha, Muhammad and Moses,” and, because nearly everything rhymes in the book, to “spaceships and aliens with noses like hoses.”
Noses like hoses? I asked Gruhl, who is also a veteran family therapist and educational consultant, to explain how his ideas came together.
Note: This interview has been edited for length, cohesiveness and clarity.
Q. I sometimes think kids, like dogs, in a way, are only aware of “the now.” This asks them to think bigger, no?
A. Ha! I hate to admit that I often compare the two, but I also aspire to be more like kids and dogs, so hopefully that takes the edge off that comparison.
I think it’s true. And it’s beautiful. As adults, we get conditioned by our parents, schools, society, religions, etc., and we forget to check in with our own experience, to be in the moment, and to let that guide us. Kids — and dogs — do this effortlessly until we condition it out of kids.
Q. Who did you write this book for?
A. In general, I always write for kids between the ages of seven and nine — third grade-ish. This is the time when their minds are starting to explode with questions, observations and insights, but most of them are still willing to give their parents a hug.
Q. Still, this is a big concept for young minds.
A. It is a big concept but I actually think it’s a more difficult concept for adult minds. Understanding connection on this level actually requires you to settle into your intuition. Kids have a natural and organic relationship to intuition that I think allows them to see and feel the possibility of what this book is proposing more easily.
Q. Why rhyme?
A. You know, people have a love-hate relationship with rhyme. You can’t even use rhyme these days without someone comparing you to Dr. Seuss. But rhyme is a really timeless and engaging format. I think it sticks in people’s minds — I want people to remember what’s being said. I like the challenge of it as a writer, and I think when you break rhyme in a rhyming book, it can really be a powerful moment for the reader to take in what’s going on.
Q. What is your personal framework that helped you write this book?
A. I’m trying to help kids, and adults, remember their wholeness, and feel at home in their own skin. It’s not just a catchy phrase — our bodies, minds and spirits really are connected and how well we attend to each of these in ourselves has an effect on the rest of the world. In my past work with children with autism and developmental disabilities, it became really obvious that health, mental challenge, social and personal fulfillment and compassion — being accepted and celebrated for exactly who we are — were critical for growth and for new ways of moving forward.
Q. What kind of kid is this book good for?
A. Life hands us a lot of curveballs, from birth to death, and there are times in our lives when we are not able to hear something that we could easily hear later. So while I think this concept is something that helps everyone in some way or another, I think this book is for any kid who feels isolated or alone at times. It’s for kids with scientific minds who want to begin to contemplate the “how” of connection. And it’s for kids who have a really open and soft heart. I’ve always had one of those, and I think this book gives you somewhere to direct that.
Q. What do you hope it will do for kids?
A. The last thing this world needs is one more prescription for how things should be done. I hope the book gets kids thinking about how everything is connected, and what that would actually mean if they are. And from there, that there are a million unique ways of being in this world, and that whatever they’ve got to contribute is something we need.
Q. Is it hard to write a book for young readers?
A. The ideas are never hard. I often imagine the world I want to be living in, or things that I wish I had known sooner, and then just go to work writing something that would be engaging and fun to read. I have a lot of respect for children and I also try to speak to them from a place of intelligence. Kids can handle way more than we give them credit for, and we have to trust them enough to speak clearly and candidly with them.
Q. Did it take long to write?
A. Almost three years to the day from my first word on the page to publishing date. It started in Chattanooga, Tennessee, while I was meditating with an incredible group of women out there. But it really became what it is after a class and critique group at Lighthouse Writers here in Denver. I worked on it a lot while traveling as well, so it was fine-tuned in Barcelona and Morocco, and finally polished by my patient editor, Juree Sondker.
Q. How did you hook up with Ignasi Font? He lives in Barcelona.
A. Instagram is the most powerful digital platform we have today for connecting with creatives. Countless artists post their talent, vision and passion. I found Ignasi there, invited him to collaborate, and the next thing I knew we were on our way.
Q. Anything to add?
A. To be Shambhala Publications’ (Bala Kids) first children’s book after 50 years of sharing and creating some of the legends of spiritual texts is a massive honor, and to have Shambhala Publications right here in our own backyard is a gift. As a Colorado author, it is exciting to be part of this groundbreaking, independent publishing house. Colorado truly is on the forefront of preserving and evolving the history of what we read and how we use it to understand ourselves and others, and to change the world.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 JUDI EPSTEIN / JASON GRUHL
“A thin string loops and winds around the people, animals, playgrounds, prayers, and gardens of the world, everything connected in a timeless whole—even scary, ugly things like chicken pox, bullies, lies, and pollution. In this engaging introduction to social consciousness and environmental awareness, color and form are given to the invisible ties that bind the universe together, from the tiniest of cells and atoms to the vastness of the stars and planets.”
— Foreword Reviews
“One of Bala Kids’s inaugural releases, this waggish picture book takes its title to heart, emphasizing readers’ connection to an eclectic roundup of people, objects, and phenomena.” — Publishers Weekly
“A worthy attempt to make an ineffable concept accessible to a young audience.” — Kirkus Reviews
"Stop! I can’t bear it—this book is too wonderful! Jason Gruhl invokes Dr. Seuss with some light rhyming and brings up everything that entrances children—tarantulas, slime, comets, you name it. Ignasi Font’s visually complex and incredibly funny illustrations (a blobfish that looks like Squidward?) will keep kids observing even on the hundredth read. A thin line threads through each page, reinforcing the title and drawing the eye through the narrative. And the end—oh, the ending! I almost keeled over in fits of pure joy upon reading it. The book is destined to become a dharma classic."
— Sumi Loundon Kim, Tricycle Magazine, The Buddhist Review
“Use this book to spark thoughtful conversations or to prod children to think about just why they matter.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“An exploration of our links with everything from blobfish to galaxies.” —Spirituality & Practice
“When A. E. Waite conceived of his deck with Pamela Colman Smith in the early 1900s, what he did is what the creators of The Fountain are doing today, over 100 years later. The Fountain imagery both simultaneously exhibits a timeless quality and also expresses where we are today in our spiritual journey as a global society.”
—Benebell Wenn, Author of The Tao of Craft, and The Holistic Tarot
“First conceived as a collaborative art piece by artist Jonathan Saiz, author Jason Gruhl, and designer Andi Todaro, these 79 paintings with shimmery silver-gilded edges sing with a kind of hyper-modern cosmic intelligence. The mini guidebook interweaves classic tarot themes with sacred geometry, art, psychology and technology. All in all? It’s a silvery, self-reflective, nuanced delight.”
"So lush and gorgeous. Every card feels like a refreshing spring rain, inviting you to step inside and dip yourself in its secrets. From the shiny, metallic box, to the beautiful, geometric cardbacks, to each thoughtfully-rendered painting, The Fountain Tarot has seduced me hook, line and sinker.”
“Creat[es] an atmosphere that feels timeless and modern at the same time, as though the cards can truly tell the future by calling upon some kind of evolutionary, dawns-of time understanding that exists within all of us, and all around us…”
— Little Red Tarot UK, Beth Maiden