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Today’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is childhood obesity.

According to the annual C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, in 2013 adults in the U.S. “…rate childhood obesity as the leading concern for children in their communities.” Results varied somewhat by race/ethnicity. Childhood obesity was a top concern for 39% of white adults and ranked as the number one issue. Forty-seven percent of Hispanic adults rated childhood obesity as a “big problem” with a ranking of number one. For African-American adults, childhood obesity ranked as the sixth issue with 29% citing it as a “big problem” in their communities. In sum, with important variations, many parents rate this issue as a top 10 “big problem” for children close to them.

One of the most creative and fun ways to promote good eating and fitness habits with children is through books. Some of my earliest and best memories are of sitting on my Mom’s lap while she read Dr. Seuss books to me. Some of my fondest reading memories are of sharing those same books with my youngest sister and eventually with groups of elementary school students at a nearby public library. The way a good kids’ book captures the imagination and creates a shared experience can be uplifting and fun. And, while we are drawing on their imagination and inspiring fun with animals, fairy tales and hijinks, why not also touch on topics that can make a real difference to their health?

PBS Parents‘ website offers a list of more than 25 books related to fitness and good nutrition for toddlers through third graders. Read. Enjoy. Encourage Health.

A few examples copied directly from the PBS Parents’ webpage, “Healthy Reading for Kids“:

(source: PBS Parents website)

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. Ages 2-5.

source: PBS Parents website

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. Ages 4-7.

source: PBS Parents website

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. Ages 6-12.