Below is the email I sent my friend a registered dietician who specializes in pediatric/family nutrition.
- Let’s Be Fit by P.K. Hallinan is a board book. Board books are published with thicker pages so toddlers have an easier time manipulating the books. One illustration in this book has a child pumping iron and the text “I’ll tone up my body.” Enough said. But not really… A few more quotes, “I watch what I eat-that’s the place to begin. I need to take heed of the food I take in.” and “I try to do pushups And sit-ups each day” All this in a book mostly read by parents to children 3 and under.
- I’m Not a Pig in Underpants by Elwood H. Smith – The text “I’m not a plump platypus watching my weight” and the accompanying illustration of a large platypus running fervently on a treadmill while 11 smaller, skinnier platypus watch concerns me. Such a shame this page made the cut. Otherwise, it’s a very funny book.
- Murphy Meets the Treadmill by Harriet Ziefert – Another treadmill story. This one is much worse because it’s about a dog whose owner thinks he is too fat. She forces him on the scale. Then, forces him on the treadmill. But the worse part is the quote “When Nikka, the neighbor’s hound, came to check things out, I knew she thought I was handsome and physically fit And I said to myself, Exercise is worth it!” (The text I italicized is italicized in the book for emphasis) A blatant example of how our society reinforces how you look determines your worth.
- Hamster Camp: How Harry Got Fit by Teresa Bateman and pictures by Nancy Cote – The last page of this book provides “A Note to Parents” I found the information helpful; but the actual book horrific. Hamster Camp is basically fat camp. When the campers arrive with their pet hamsters, the humans turn into hamsters too. Together the pets and owners, do all sorts of hamster activities – run on the wheel and through the maze. Finally at the end of the month, the humans turn back into humans where they “got new belts to match their trim physiques.” Harry returns home and teaches his parents how to be fit. The premise of this book is the complete opposite of what the parental note discusses, which is “young children don’t shop, cook, or even fully control when and where they are physically active.” It’s up to the parent to provide opportunities for active play and nutritional food choices.
There are others… The Gulps by Rosemary Wells and illustrated by Marc Brown, My Dog Jack is Fat by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Michael Rex, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Many of the authors are acclaimed children’s book authors with fabulous, child appropriate books. So I’m not saying stay away from books by these authors. Actually, I’ll be highlighting one of the authors in my post about good books to read to children about food.
Some may think I am overreacting. But what irks me is the obsession with introducing children to exercising like adults. Plus the preaching of eating healthy foods to children, when they are not the ones making the food choices for their home. Children’s best way to stay fit is to visit a playground, run, swing, slide, play in the sand and eat a variety of foods.
I am working on a post about more appropriate books about nutrition and exercise. So far the list is small. Let me know if you have any suggestions.