Next time you’re teaching your children about healthy habits, consider this: Who do you think is more fun for teaching personal hygiene – you or the Cat in the Hat? Who could be better for explaining stress-reducing techniques for children than a peaceful piggy? And can you think of anyone better suited to discuss oral health than someone by the name of Dr. Flossman?
The fact of the matter is children’s books can make getting (and staying) healthy fun – and silly. And while it’s true that healthy habits all begin with adults leading by example, adding some good children’s books into the mix can reinforce important concepts – and generate some giggles while doing it.
Getting a child to make healthy food choices is often one of the biggest challenges parents face. In addition to the many ideas out there for encouraging children to eat more vegetables and nutrient-rich foods, try some fun books.
Eating the Alphabet, by Lois Ehlert (Ages 1-3)
Why Should I Eat Well?, by Claire Llewellyn (Ages 4+)
Eat Lots of Colors, by Helen Marstiller (Ages 4+)
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, by Lauren Child (Ages 4 – 8)
Fitness and exercise
Fitness and exercise is a habit best formed by getting out there and getting active! And there are many options for physical activity that can involve the whole family. Adding books can give kids some extra motivation to stay fit by educating them about the benefits of exercise, from a strong heart to healthy bones.
Get Up and Go!, by Nancy Carlson (Ages 3 – 5)
The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness, by Lizzy Rockwell (Ages 3 – 7)
Wallie Exercises, by Steve Ettinger (Ages 4+)
Yoga and meditation
One topic that many people overlook when teaching their children about health is the power of meditation and yoga. Of course, the methods and poses need to be modified for little bodies and brains, but there is an emerging body of research that indicates that mindfulness (meditation) can help children improve their attention and focus, calm down when they are upset, reduce their stress, and improve their sleep quality – all fantastic habits that contribute to better overall health. If you’re not sure how to approach yoga and meditation for children, try starting with a story to guide you.
Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga, by Rebecca Whitford (Ages 1 – 4)
Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story, by Mariam Gates (Ages 3+)
You are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses, by Tae-Eun Yoo (Ages 3 – 5)
Peaceful Piggy Meditation, by Kerry Lee Maclean (Ages 5 – 9)
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), by Eline Snel (Ages 5 – 12)
Germs. Especially for children, they seem inevitable. But educating children on good hygiene is the best way to avoid the spread of infection, and teaching the principles of correct hygiene at an early age can help keep them healthy in later life. There are a number of books that can help explain why personal hygiene is so important. (Expect some extra laughs from these ones.)
Noses Are Not for Picking, by Elizabeth Verdick (Ages 1 – 4)
Germs Are Not for Sharing, by Elizabeth Verdick (Ages 4+)
A Germ’s Journey (Follow It!), by Thom Rooke, M.D. (Ages 6 – 8)
Establishing a proper oral hygiene routine early in life will help ensure the development of strong and healthy teeth and can prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. So in addition to regular brushing (both of your children’s teeth and your own – so they can learn from the example you set), try reading up on the subject.
Brush Your Teeth, Please: A Pop-up Book, by Leslie Mcguire (Ages 2 – 5)
The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, by Edward Miller (Ages 5+)
Open Wide: Tooth School Inside, by Laurie Keller (Ages 5 – 8)
Bullying is an important issue to address with your children because so many kids are affected by it – if not as a victim of it, as a witness to it. And there are many strategies for preventing and responding to bullying. But this is a subject that typically requires very frank, straightforward discussions – at the child’s level. Books can help foster these conversations.
The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others, by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy (Ages 4+)
Dare!: A Story about Standing Up to Bullying in Schools, by Erin Frankel (Ages 5 – 9)
Tough!: A Story about How to Stop Bullying in Schools, by Erin Frankel (Ages 5 – 9)
Weird!: A Story about Dealing with Bullying in Schools, by Erin Frankel (Ages 5 – 9)
In addition to eating healthy foods and taking care of your body, there are also other important concepts children should understand to keep themselves safe. From wearing bike helmets to crossing the road safely, there are children’s books that can help you instill some basic safety ground rules.
I Can Play It Safe, by Alison Feigh (Ages 4 – 8)
I Can Be Safe: A First Look at Safety, by Pat Thomas (Ages 4+)
Be Careful and Stay Safe, by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed. (Ages 4 – 8)
Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy, by Tish Rabe (Ages 5 – 8)
These are just some of the fantastic children’s books out there that can help you incorporate good health into story time. Visit your local library to check them out, or add them to your home library – and use reading time to set the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.