As parents and caregivers, we do our best to raise healthy and fit children. Some of us follow specific guidelines. Some of us make it happen in a casual way. No matter which group you fall into, there’s something else that can help our kids get the message: a book.
Young readers have many options for books relating to fitness and good nutrition. Many of them are lighthearted and humorous, which can go a long way in capturing a child’s interest. What toddler wouldn’t enjoy hearing about a dog using a hula hoop? If your kindergartner wants to learn yoga, how about getting tips from Babar the Elephant? Slightly older kids may be amazed to learn how monsters make good food choices.
When looking for some “healthy” books for your child, check out the recommendations below. Regardless of which ones you choose, they’ll help reinforce the positive measures you’ve already implemented at home.
Select an Age
The Going to Bed Book
by Sandra Boynton
Silly animals get ready for bed. They put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and do their exercises.
Ages 1 – 3
by Doreen Cronin
Wiggles and giggles are encouraged from morning to night through the rhyming text and humorous illustrations. It is a book you just can’t sit still for!
by Bruce McMillan
An introduction to the colorful world of fruits and vegetables, which takes readers into the garden and the orchard with photographs so crisp, it feels as if one could reach out and touch the produce.
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and Other Action Rhymes
by Zita Newcome
More than fifty traditional illustrated action rhymes and finger plays offer a rhythm and beat that will have children and their caregivers on their feet.
Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga
by Rebecca Whitford
A toddler demonstrates simple yoga poses while the animal that matches those poses appears on the opposite page.
From Head to Toe
by Eric Carle
Can you wave your arms like a monkey and wiggle your hips like a crocodile? Imitate each of the actions demonstrated by a bunch of energetic animals, and you will be exercising your whole body “from head to toe!”
Get Up and Go!
by Nancy Carlson
A colorful cast of active animals demonstrate many excellent ways to exercise. You can stay healthy and have fun when you hit a home run, hike in the woods, help your mom in the garden, or “just walk around the neighborhood.”
Yum! Yum! Delicious Nursery Rhymes
by Joanne Fitzgerald
Set in a bustling farmer’s market, this compilation of familiar nursery rhymes focuses on food shopping and preparation: a cozy, delicious treat.
Hot Potato: Mealtime Rhyme
by Neil Philip
This is a wonderful collection of light-hearted food poems and limericks, including John Ciardi’s, “Mommy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast”” and Russell Hoban’s, “The Friendly Cinnamon Bun.”
The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness
by Lizzy Rockwell
An easy-to-understand overview of all the body’s systems and how they work together to enable you to “move fast, lift heavy things and walk or run for miles.”
by An Vrombaut
While Clarabella the crocodile is brushing her many teeth, her friends play and exercise, eat, and go about their day. By the time Clarabella is finished, it’s time for bed! Luckily her friends find a solution that helps Clarabella to finish in time to join in the day’s activities.
Babar’s Yoga for Elephants
by Laurent de Brunhoff
This book teaches children yoga basics in a fun, interactive format by explaining how yoga was introduced to Celesteville, and how Babar and Queen Celeste keep fit doing yoga on their many travels. It includes a pull-out poster showing Babar in yoga poses.
Dudley: The Little Terrier That Could
by Stephen Green-Armytage
Dudley is a small dog who decides to become an “athlete dog.” Stretching exercises, weight lifting, and even chin-ups help turn him into a strong and fast dog, who can soar through the air to catch Frisbees and balls. The color photographs featuring Dudley in action show how a little guy can do amazing things.
by Rosemary Wells
The members of the Gulp family weigh so much that their car can’t even move. Luckily, they break down near a farm, where they learn that eating fruits and vegetables and doing plenty of hard work makes them healthier and happier.
I.Q. Gets Fit
by Mary Ann Fraser
A school project to celebrate Health Month inspires I.Q., the class pet, to get fit. He dreams of passing the fitness test and winning a gold ribbon, but fears he is too small and weak.
by Jennifer Dussing
Peggy, who is known for being a picky eater, decides to become “Peggy the bold eater” after learning a lesson from her pet duckling. This is an entertaining tale that includes scientific information in sidebars and within the story itself.
Yum! Mmmm! Que rico! America’s Sproutings
by Pat Mora
This concept book presents information about 14 types of food, all of which are indigenous to the Americas. The English text is sprinkled with Spanish words, as the author uses haiku poems to introduce children to the different foods.
Mr. Putter &Tabby Run the Race
by Cynthia Rylant
Mr. Putter is convinced to run in a senior marathon with his neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, when he learns that second prize is a train set.
Murphy Meets the Treadmill
by Harriet Ziefert
Murphy the dog is happy to lie on the porch. His “favorite activity is eating.” Though he’s reluctant at first, he finds a way to get in shape that’s fun and effective: walking every day on an exercise treadmill.
Dinosaurs Alive and Well: A Guide to Good Health
by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
A bunch of appealing green dinosaurs demonstrate the basics of health. They cover not only nutrition and exercise, but also hygiene, first aid, and the importance of feelings and friendships.
by Kathryn Lasky
Clyde the bunny never gets chosen for team sports. He dreads the day of the Sports Spectacular, until he discovers an individual sport that’s just right for him and might earn him a trip to the All-City Games: the trampoline!
The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day
by Loreen Leedy
Animals learn to plan good meals by counting servings from each food group during the grand opening of the Edible Pyramid restaurant.
Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas
by Meghan McCarthy
A cartoon illustrated biography details Charles Atlas’ immigration and impetuses for becoming “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man!”
by Melanie Mitchell
A brief, but informative, text explains why it is important to eat a variety of foods, how each food group nourishes the body, and how to know just the right amount to eat. Colorful photos present each food group and show happy children eating healthy.
by Leyla Torres
Mama Ana sets off for the market with Maria Lili to trade with each vendor: eggs for plantains, plantains for cassava, cassava for corn and so on, until they have all the ingredients they need to prepare a delicious sancocho. The book includes a recipe for this popular South American stew and a reminder to have an adult help in the kitchen.
by True Kelley
When the school cook takes a vacation from the hard work of preparing nutritious meals for the kids at Lincoln school, the children and the principal write to her to come back soon, for each of the substitute cooks is a disaster. Expressive, busy illustrations expand the text in this humorous look at healthy eating.
The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active &Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids
by Edward Miller
How do monsters learn to eat well and be healthy? This colorful guide, packed with fun facts and riddles, shows both monsters and kids how to make good choices.
Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition
by Lizzy Rockwell
What makes you feel hungry? This book talks about hunger and the different kinds of nutrients, vitamins and minerals children need for good health. It includes simple explanations of how they work to build strong bodies.