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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: Books to Help You Establish Good Habits for Your Toddler

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Doctors and parents understand that reading promotes language and literacy development and prepares young children to succeed in school. But some books can also help develop strong bodies and prevent childhood obesity by educating young children about the importance of healthy eating.

Children like to model characters and behaviors they read about in their favorite stories. So, with the right book, your child may get the encouragement he needs to give vegetables a try, become a less fussy eater, or spend more time outside moving his body. Books can help you reinforce your own parenting lessons in a way that’s fun and engaging for your child.

Books about healthy foods can also help your child with learning colors, shapes, textures, and counting. And these lessons can extend beyond the book! Use bright and colorful fruits and vegetables as the focal points of your conversations at home or at the market. (“ How many bananas are in the bowl?” or “ What color are the apples in the cart?”)

If you’re trying to encourage your child to try new, healthy foods or become more active, books can help you create positive situations where you do these things together. As you sit down to a healthy snack with your child or spend time on the playground, you can remind her that you’re doing the very same things you’ve read about in books! Because you’re also modeling the same behavior, your child will be excited to join you!

Beyond nutrition and exercise, books can also help you plant the seed with your child about other healthy habits, such as the importance of brushing her teeth, visiting the doctor, and getting enough sleep.

Establishing healthy habits early is critical for your child’s long-term health and well-being. And with the help of books, teaching these lessons can be fun – and allow you opportunities for more bonding with your child!

Here are some doctor-recommended children’s books about nutritious foods and eating right from Reach Out and Read’s pediatricians. Check them out at your local library, bookstore, or online:
  • Eating the Rainbow (Star Bright Books, 2009)
  • Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell (HarperCollins, 2009)
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert (HMH Books, 1996)
  • Growing the Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (Sandpiper, 1990)
  • The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 2008)

For additional children’s titles about healthy eating, click here. For reading tips and information on the importance of reading aloud, click here.

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