You don't want your little one to grow up to be a professional couch potato, but what can you do to set a positive and healthy tone at such a young age? You certainly can't enroll your toddler or preschooler in boring seminars about health and wellness. According to KidsHealth, one in three American kids is overweight, so ensure your youngster isn't part of that alarming statistic and use picture books to present this crucial information in both an entertaining and educational way.
Get your little one moving after reading an age-appropriate story about the importance of exercising and keeping fit. Take a run like Wallie in Steve Ettinger's "Wallie Exercises" or Joey in Len Saunders' "Joey the Kangaroo: An Adventure in Exercise." Put your sweet angel's endless energy to good use, and instead of having him aimlessly run around the house and drive you crazy, suggest he hop around to stay fit just like the characters in Lauren Thompson's "Hop, Hop, Jump!"
The dreaded topic of vegetables might send your little one running in fear, but the use of entertaining picture books might bring her out of hiding. If your little one constantly fights you at the dinner table about eating a single pea, read "Night of the Veggie Monster" by George McClements, to convince her that trying the healthful food might not be so bad after all. If you have a little chef on your hands, let her test out her cooking skills as your make a variety of recipes from Judi Gillies and Jennifer Glossop's "The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook." Because your culinary genius isn't quite ready for her solo debut in the kitchen, prepare some of the vegetarian recipes as a mother-child team.
While your little one might not run away at the sight of an apple or banana, he likely doesn't choose them over a piece of gooey candy. Kill two birds with one stone as you teach your toddler how to identify his letters and how to recognize healthy fruit and food options in Puck's "My Foodie ABC: A Little Gourmet's Guide." For your preschooler, read Emily Green's "The New Food Guide Pyramid Fruits," and teach him why fruits are important for overall health and how eating them on a daily basis will help him grow up to be big and strong.
Sometimes the best way to teach your sweet tooth healthy eating habits is to show her examples of what not to eat. Follow the beloved characters in Stan and Jan Berenstain's "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food" as Mama Bear realizes the entire family is eating way too much junk food and helps each family member make better food choices. After you read this with your youngster, ask her to come up with a healthier choice the next time she begs you for a run to your nearest fast food chain. Lydia M. Lacy's "Junk Food June" follows a family of bugs and shows your little one how the unhealthy choices of junk food negatively affect a growing body.
- Wallie Exercises; Steve Ettinger
- Joey the Kangaroo: An Adventure in Exercise; Len Saunders
- Hop, Hop, Jump!; Lauren Thompson
- My Foodie ABC: A Little Gourmet's Guide; Puck
- The New Food Guide Pyramid Fruits; Emily Green
- The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food; Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Junk Food June; Lydia M. Lacy
- Night of the Veggie Monster; George McClements
- The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook; Judi Gillies and Jennifer Glossop
- KidsHealth: Overweight and Obesity
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