12 Kids’ Books That Help Promote Healthy Habits
by Lindsay Barrett
There’s so much information out there about what to do — and not do — for optimum health. For busy families, keeping it simple can often offer the best chance of success. Focusing on eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and getting adequate rest can help your whole family be happy and healthy, both now and in the future.
Books are a fabulous way to encourage healthy habits and suggest new ideas to try. We’ve rounded up twelve titles to get you started.
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato
It’s easy to say that healthy eating means consuming a variety of nutritious foods, but what about the many kids who refuse? Wise big brother Charlie teaches his sister Lola, along with readers, that trying new foods can be fun if you have the right attitude. Pass the orange twiglets, ocean nibbles, cloud fluff, and moon squirters — and make it a habit to give new foods a chance.
(Ages 4 – 8)
Eat Your Greens, Reds, Yellows, and Purples
Involving kids in cooking is a reliable way to encourage healthy eating, but the premise of this cookbook — aiming to “eat the rainbow” — is especially motivating for kids. The mouth-watering photos and inviting step-by-step instructions will make everyone eager to prepare and eat “radical reds,” “perfect and proud purples,” and more.
(Ages 8 – 12)
The only thing better than involving kids in cooking healthy foods is including them in growing it first. This alliterative tale chronicles a delicious veggie-filled meal, from sowing seeds to sprinkling on spices. When you make it a family habit to think about how your meals get to your table, you’re more likely to make healthy choices.
(Ages 3 – 7)
Plant, Cook, Eat!
When kids are ready to take even more ownership of producing and preparing nutritious foods, this information-packed cookbook is an invaluable resource. With advice on designing a vegetable patch, making homemade bean burgers, and more, this book includes everything older kids need to know to plant, cook, and eat their way to good health.
(Ages 7 – 10)
Get Up and Go!
Nancy Carlson and her cheerful cast of animal characters offer heartfelt encouragement for young readers on many topics. This book focuses on the benefits of exercise: it can be exciting, satisfying, relaxing, and, of course, fun! Full of ideas for being active — from team sports and playground games to quieter pursuits — there’s a reason here for every kid to “get up and go!”
(Ages 3 – 5)
The Busy Body Book
Some children need to know the inside scoop before they’ll buy in to requested behaviors. This nonfiction book is full of kid-friendly information on how the human body’s systems work in concert — and what this “amazing living machine” needs to make it go. From getting plenty of exercise to eating well and resting up, this title covers several important bases with an upbeat tone.
(Ages 3 – 7)
You’re Missing It!
Gulp. Raise your hand if you need this reminder to put down your device and enjoy the moment even more than your kids do. Limiting screen time is a habit we all need to cultivate. The kids in this story enjoy a rollicking screen-free park adventure and plead with their phone-obsessed parents to enjoy it, too.
(Ages 3 – 5)
Unstructured, creative play is the perfect alternative to excessive screen time, and a much more fun habit to foster than nagging kids to put down their video games. This title — and Megan Wagner Lloyd’s others, Building Books and Finding Wild — are odes to healthy, classic childhood pastimes for all seasons.
(Ages 3 – 7)
Calm with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Kids gravitate toward Eric Carle’s vibrant illustrations. This small book uses his signature images to share a powerful message: when life feels like too much, take a moment to stop, breathe, and reflect. Now that’s a useful habit at every age!
(Ages 3 – 5)
Calm: Mindfulness for Kids
Mindfulness practices are so helpful for coping with — and even diffusing — the big feelings of childhood. From techniques like “rainbow breathing” and “waves of breath” to mindfulness-themed crafts like a calming glitter jar and a gratitude paper chain, this practical and engaging handbook is full of simple strategies to help kids learn to be more present, focused, and reflective.
(Ages 6 – 9)
Even Superheroes Have to Sleep
Bright rhymes remind readers that sleep is essential, whether you’re a superhero, construction worker, doctor, astronaut, princess, rock star, or even a kid. For youngsters who claim they aren’t tired and don’t need to go to bed, this book can help convince them to get the rest they need to be their best selves.
(Ages 2 – 5)
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
There are plenty of fun tidbits in this story to reference during your family’s bedtime routine, like gargling with the Herk-Heimer Sisters, who brush their teeth under a waterfall, and imitating Snorter McPhail and his Snore-a-Snort Band. Most importantly, this celebration of all things sleep-related issues a compelling invitation for readers to build their own healthy sleep habits and up the “Who’s-Asleep-Score” by one more.
(Ages 5 – 9)