Monday, September 27, 2010

Healthy Living for Kids

I'm a first-time mom - yes, a paranoid, worrying first-time mom. You veteran moms can remember those days, no doubt. I am constantly concerned about getting enough vegetables, dairy, and protein in my child's diet, and making sure she's as active as she can be. I'm in the "green" generation, too. I am worried about exposing my child to VOC-laiden paint, and other harmful environmental toxins and chemicals. I'm concerned about vaccinations, SIDS, autism, childhood obesity, swine flu, and countless other diseases, illnesses, and dangers. That's it - we're never leaving the house again!

That might be going a bit overboard, but my biggest concerns for my child are that she learns to love her Creator early in life, is healthy, vibrant, and able to enjoy just being a kid. I am constantly trying to figure out good ways to enrich her body, mind, and soul. So for this month's column, I went in search of good, biblically-based, engaging healthy-living books for children - books that encourage kids to live healthy lives. I contacted most of the major Christian publishers (and some not-so-major ones) to see what they had either already published or were planning to publish that falls into that category. And...I came up dry! I was extremely surprised. I thought that in an era where Cookie Monster only eats cookies as a "sometimes food," there would surely be engaging books for kids on eating healthy and being active, from a biblical perspective. Nope!

When you look on Amazon, under the Christian books for children, there is no category for health. You will find the same thing at CBD. There are plenty of books that talk about a child's relationship with God (which is wonderful - don't get me wrong), but no books about what that means for our bodies, imaginations, etc. As a publishing industry insider, I have to say that I was definitely disappointed.

However, after a lot of digging, I did happen to find one book (for kids) that talks about taking care of yourself. While it is published by a Christian publishing house in the U.K. and distributed here in the U.S. by another Christian publisher, the book itself is not necessarily written from a Christian perspective. So, if you don't mind that it's not necessarily Christian in its presentation, it is a solid little book for children about being healthy.

Growing Strong: A Book About Taking Care of Yourself
(978-0-7459-6158-3, Lion Books, paperback) talks about everything from staying clean and getting a good night's sleep, to exercising and eating well. According to the description on Amazon, "the basic aspects of leading a healthy life are all addressed in this informative look-and-learn picture book. Each image is accompanied by a brief caption that describes how simple tasks can help bodies and minds develop to their fullest potential." The book is a companion to another handy little book for kids about caring for the planet: Growing Green: A Young Person's Guide to Taking Care of the Planet (978-0-8254-7825-3, Lion Books, paperback).

Even though Growing Strong is not necessarily "religious," I think it's the sort of book that can help springboard conversations with children about why we are suppose to take care of ourselves, and why it's important to treat our bodies as a temple. But I think that could be said of most mainstream, secular books on the topic, as well. So, while we wait for more biblically-based healthy-living books for children (hello, publishers!), we can still couple the available non-religious resources with Scripture and solid parental wisdom.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control . . ."1 Corinthians 9:24-27a (ESV)
". . . offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."Romans 12:1b (NIV)
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: . . . that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor . . ."1 Thessalonians 4:3a, 4a (ESV)
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."Romans 12:1 (ESV)

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