Why do we need physical activity in our storytime programs? 

Almost one-third of children and young adults in the United States are overweight or obese (Rockeymoore et al., 2014).  As a result, more children are suffering from chronic illnesses, like hypertension and type two diabetes (Woodson et al., 2011). Suzanne Bloom 2

Where a child lives has almost as much effect on his/her probability of being obese as traditional risk factors, such as age and education (Rockeymoore et al., 2014). Almost half of the population in rural America is obese or overweight (Rockeymoore et al., 2014). Children living in rural communities are more likely to live in poverty and to lack access to foods and community infrastructure that promote healthy and active lifestyles; additionally, living in poverty decreases an individual’s ability to afford healthy foods; as a result, those who are poor are more likely to rely on fast food or convenience food for sustenance (Rockeymore et al., 2014). 

Preschool aged children’s physical activity directly correlates to their mother’s activity levels (Hesketh, et. al., 2014). Children with mothers who were more likely to live in poverty and who left school at a younger age were more likely to spend more time being sedentary (Hesketh, et. al, 2014).  People in rural areas are less likely to attain a bachelor’s degree, and are more likely to live in poverty (Rockeymoore et al., 2014).  Therefore, preschool aged children in rural areas are less likely to spend time on physical activities.

Initiatives and programs that promote healthy habits have been implemented in many communities. Some of these initiatives have utilized the public library and/or children’s storytimes (Danforth, 2011; National Institutes of Health, 2013; Woodson et al., 2011).  In these programs, libraries and/or storytimes are positive and safe places for children to learn about healthy habits. These programs have also encouraged children to be active, with opportunities for play, interaction, and other physical activity (Woodson et al., 2011).

Read & Reach: A Resource for Promoting Physical Activity in Storytimes  is designed to help librarians, teachers, and other adults increase the amount of physical activity in their storytime and children’s programming.