Books to Get Kids Moving

Looking to add some movement to your story times? Interested in physical literacy, but not sure where to start? Here are six groovy titles to get you off on the right foot (pun intended). You can find more kid-friendly physical literacy book reviews here. So gather some kid-friendly instruments and be prepared to make some noise!

Woman reading a story aloud to a group of children

1. "Baby Loves to Boogie!" by Wednesday Kirwan

New York: Little Simon, 2014.  ISBN 978-1-4814-0383-2; Board book edition; $US $5.99/CAN $6.99.

This bright, colorful board book of animals frolicking in various types of dance is full of engaging rhymes ("The chicks can do kicks and the toucan can cancan") and creative word-play that has a fun mouth-feel ("There's a cha-cha Chihuahua and an eel-ectric slide") that will make both child and reader want to get up and boogie! In addition to being fun to have in the collection, this book would be a great asset to a Babies in the Library program or a Family Dance Party.

2. "Farmyard Beat" by Lindsey Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown

New York: Knopf, 2011. ISBN 978-0-375-86455-1; Hardcover; US $15.99/CAN $17.99.

"Farmyard Beat" is a fun book to get your preschool story time crowd bopping and grooving. With great rhythm, rhyme, repetition, and fun word play ("Puuurrrr! Mee-ooow! All that racket wakes up ... cow!") this story is not only a joy to read but a guaranteed hit with the kiddos. Add some shakers and noisemakers and get everyone up dancing.

You could even incorporate a fun game of having some of the kids pretend to be asleep, acting out the different animals, and having the others rattle the noisemakers to wake them up while you read the story. A must-add for every juvenile collection at a public or school library.

3. "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Lake Forest, CA: MoonDance, 2016. ISBN 978-1-63322-118-5; Hardcover with CD; US $17.95/CAN $23.95.

The popular song is redesigned for the younger set by featuring zoo animals cutting loose. While I found the cadence of some lines a bit awkward, kids don't seem to notice. When I brought this book home to share with my boys (age 5 and 10) it was requested multiple times, and they were soon singing it themselves and dancing around the living room. So be prepared for repeat requests!

4. "Go, Shapes, Go!" by Denise Fleming

New York: Beach Lane, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4424-8240-1; Hardcover; US $17.99/CAN $21.99.

This creatively illustrated story incorporates paper cut-outs of shapes and movement-based language as a way to teach shape and pattern recognition. Using the familiar and friendly forms of a monkey and a mouse, children can be encouraged to march, leap, flip, slither, bounce, roll, slide, scoot, fly, twirl, hop and — oh no! crash! — alongside their animal-shaped friends. You can find fun printable activities to accompany the book at the author's website. It's a ready-made story time combining gross and fine motor skills with language and pattern building blocks.

5. "I Got the Rhythm" by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison

New York: Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 978-0-545-83877-1; Paperback; US $4.99.

Gather your crew for a funky preschool story time with this simple but engaging story of a girl who makes her "body rock." Produce some beats using toy drums (we sometimes just hit sticks on top of plastic container lids — use what you have) and body parts (feet, fingers, hands, knees, hips, toes and mouth). Bust out the tunes to get everyone in the mood to keep dancing!

6. "Spunky Little Monkey" by Bill Martin, Jr., and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Brian Won

New York: Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 978-0-545-77643-1; Hardcover; US $17.99/CAN $23.99.

For those of you familiar with the popular clapping game, Down Down Baby, this energetic modified version is sure to be a hit! Our sleepy little monkey won't get out of bed and the doctor prescribes exercise as a cure for his lethargy. Pretty soon our monkey is clapping, stomping, shaking, hip-wiggling and ding-donging his way to a fun day of play with his friends. A great book to use during preschool story time, the children will be happy to grab some noisemakers and rattle along with this monkey's colorful moves. The book even ends with a note from author Michael Sampson encouraging parents to incorporate daily exercise by using this repetitive chant and lively artwork to also promote literacy! Movement + story + art = multimodal, whole-person literacy!