Fitness and Health Books for Kids

These fun health and fitness books prompt kids to move and play.

Reading is often a sedentary pursuit, but not when it comes to these fitness and health-themed books for kids. Through instruction, inspiration, or both, they encourage children to move their bodies and enjoy sports, fitness, and healthy foods. The titles below are suitable for toddlers, preschoolers, and beginning readers up to about 8 years old.

The Busy Body Book: A Kid's Guide to Fitness

The Busy Body Book by Lizzy Rockwell
Dragonfly Books

More than just encouragement to move, this book by Lizzy Rockwell offers a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology. As she explains how muscles, bones, and organs work together, illustrations (also by Rockwell) show kids enjoying active play.

For a look at food and nutrition in a similar style, see Rockwell's companion book, Good Enough to Eat.

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A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
As the title suggests, this charmingly illustrated book of poetry reminds us that just being outside sparks both imagination and activity. In poems and pictures, children play with sticks, catch bugs, hide and seek, and more; look for both traditional games and make-believe inventions.

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You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses

You Are a Lion by Taeeun Yoo
Courtesy of Amazon

Kids love animals, so introduce little ones to yoga with poses named after animals. That's what Taeeun Yoo does is in this beautifully illustrated and playful book for preschoolers and kindergartners.

For more kids' yoga, check out Baron Baptiste's My Daddy Is a Pretzel.It introduces kids to nine basic yoga poses by relating them to occupations ("gardener" yields "tree" pose, and so on). Illustrator Sophie Fatus shows, step by step, how to get into each pose. If your kids like yoga and dogs, they might enjoyYoga Dogs by Daniel Borris, too. It's not instructional, but it is fun and inspirational.

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Marathon Mouse

Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon
Courtesy of Amazon

Preston, a small mouse with a big dream, will win your heart in this tale of a tiny entrant in the New York City marathon. While most of the mice who live under the city's Verrazano Bridge are terrified of the runners who cross the bridge on Marathon Day, Preston is determined to join them. This story by Amy Dixon will be especially compelling for kids with parents who love to run.

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Dancing Feet

Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig
Courtesy of Amazon

If the collage illustrations by Marc Brown don't charm you, the fun rhyming text by Lindsey Craig surely will. And little kids will love guessing just whose dancing feet they are seeing (turn the pages to find out).

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The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister by Linda Ravin Lodding
Courtesy of Amazon

Ernestine has a list of activities as long as her name, but what she wants most is an afternoon at the park. This picture book by Linda Ravin Lodding doesn't directly extol the virtues of exercise. Instead, it promotes the joys of unstructured, free play.

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Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun with Food

Bean Appetit - kids cookbook
Courtesy of Amazon

Get kids into the kitchen with these fun recipes and activities, most of which feature healthful ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In this case, playing with your food is welcome!

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Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen

Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen by Cari Best
Courtesy of Amazon
Sally Jean is spunky and smart and a whiz on first two wheels, then three. This book celebrates the joys of bicycle riding, along with Sally Jean's resourcefulness and creativity when she outgrows her beloved bike, Flash.

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We Grew It - Let's Eat It

We Grew It--Let's Eat It
Courtesy of Amazon

Follow along with twins (and city dwellers) Annie and Veda as they grow their own veggies in a community garden. Author Justine Kenin, the twins' mom, shares their story, from planting to tending to harvesting to chowing down on the fruits of their labor.

For more gardening how-tos and activities, see Sharon Lovejoy's classic Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots.

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Stretch

Stretch by Doreen Cronin
Courtesy of Amazon

Stretch those limbs with this rhyming story from Doreen Cronin, author of Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type, Diary of a Worm, and other popular picture books. The book is a sequel, of sorts, of two previous titles starring the same sweet dog: Wiggle and Bounce.

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Sesame Street: Shake a Leg!

Sesame Street Shake a Leg
Courtesy of Amazon

If your child loves Elmo (or other Sesame Street monsters), check out this cute board book by Constance Allen. Little ones can follow along as Elmo and friends try out different movements. They'll also learn the names of body parts as you read, stretch, and shake.

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Good Sports: Rhymes About Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More

Good Sports poems by Jack Prelutsky
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Beloved children's poet Jack Prelutsky tackles the subject of sports in this collection, illustrated by Chris Raschka (another well-known talent). These verses send a message about sportsmanship, and the joy of simply participating, without being preachy.

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We Are Girls Who Love to Run

We Are Girls Who Love to Run by Brianna Grant
Balanced Steps, LLC

A diverse group of girls shares the joy of running and the feeling of strength it provides. Author Brianna Grant showcases that special girlpower in a story written in both English and Spanish.

Looking for running advice and tips? Try Kids Running: Have Fun, Get Faster and Go Farther by Carol Goodrow (compare prices).

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Get Up and Go

Get Up and Go by Nancy Carlson
Courtesy of Amazon

Upbeat illustrations accompany a straightforward, but kid-friendly message in this book by Nancy Carlson. It enumerates many benefits of exercise (it's relaxing, it helps you make friends, it burns up "junky food"). But it still successfully reminds kids that first and foremost, physical activity is fun.

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Hop, Hop, Jump!

Hop Hop Jump by Lauren Thompson
Courtesy of Amazon

 This book by Lauren Thompson is simple, direct, colorful, and inspiring. Set at a summer camp, it shows kids moving their bodies in all kinds of ways, from hiking to to dancing (while also labeling body parts for young learners). Charming illustrations by Jarrett J. Krosoczka will quickly prompt little ones to hop up and join in.

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