Top Ten Books to Get Kids Moving by Annie Orsini and Kendra Limback

Our days typically begin with a run (and end with a book).  Finding time to be physically active with families to love, students to teach, and books to read is an ongoing challenge.  We often find ourselves up at 5:15 a.m. running and, in Kendra’s case, yoga-ing.  Running gives us time to be alone with our profound (and more often trivial) thoughts.  We put our day together and find our focus as our feet pound the pavement.  Sometimes, running lets us laugh and spend time with a friend.  Running makes us stronger and healthier, both mentally and physically.


As we think about our students and their future, we recognize that physical activity is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle. Healthy minds and healthy bodies are the true goal.  According to Let’s Move, children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day.  Movement during the school day is not a reward.  Rather, it is essential for classroom focus. And, just like the two of us, when we move as a class, there is laughter and an opportunity to be together.  Reading as a class = same opportunity.  So, what could be better than a book to inspire us play soccer, race our friends, dance, or stretch?  In no particular order, here are ten of our favorite books to get kids moving.
you are a lion!

You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo


Brain breaks are an important part of our students’ day.  You are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses introduces children to simple yoga poses as they (whisper) roar like a lion, flutter like a butterfly, stretch like a snake, and touch the sky like a mountain.  A perfect opportunity to move and breathe in the middle of a day filled with learning!


count the monkeys

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett


We’re asked to read this book over and over again!  In this concept book, readers are invited to interact with the story and move on each page by moving their hand in a zig-zag to confuse three crocodiles and humming a happy tune while escaping five bee swarms.  A fun read aloud filled with movement opportunities!


Go Out and Play!

Go Out and Play!: Favorite Outdoor Games from Kaboom! by Darell Hammond & Kaboom!


Red Light, Green Light and Sardines were some of our favorite childhood games.  We noticed that lots of our students didn’t know how to play “old-fashioned” games.  At the beginning of each year, we spend some time teaching students the rules and how to play Freeze Tag, Four Square, and lots of others.  This book explains how to play over 70 games in a kid-friendly way.



Bounce by Doreen Cronin


The title says it all!  This energetic book has a “bouncy” rhythm to it…and it’s hard not to bounce before, during, and after reading.


Rah! Rah! Radishes

Rah! Rah! Radishes: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre


This catchy rhyming celebrates healthy eating by featuring more common vegetables, such as corn, carrots, and broccoli, and lesser-known vegetables, including eggplant, bok choy, and parsnips.  We can’t help but move when we’re chanting…and it makes us want to wander around our local Farmer’s Market.


Wilma Unlimited

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull


This picture biography tells the amazing story of Wilma Rudolph, the first woman to win three gold medals at the Olympic games in 1960.  Before she accomplished this, she overcame polio and several other illnesses.  Her perseverance and hard work is inspiring.  This book is a joy to read aloud.  And who wouldn’t want to run after reading such an inspiring story!  There are several track/walking clubs in our local school district that meet before school or during recess.  Stories of our students moving keep us inspired!


Hoop Genius

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy

Hoop Genius introduces readers to the true story of how basketball was invented.  (One sentence version: A young gym teacher with a classroom management issue was creative with his limited resources, and a new sport was born.)  It is perfect for encouraging students to invent their own games to play at recess or at home.


How To Be A Cat

How To Be A Cat by Nikki McClure


This book was fun to read.  Kendra had the opportunity to share it with some first grade friends.  Some sat and just stared at the illustrations. (They are striking).  The students were allowed to try out some poses and movement that would connect to the story.  Being able to connect with a story provided the opportunity for ALL students to be engaged.  Even better?  They are connected because of a book.



The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill


A all-time favorite!  This book provides the opportunity to talk about the skills needed to go out and move together at recess.  In the end Mean Jean learns together is better, especially at recess!


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt retold by Michael Rosen


A classic.  The familiar song-like lyrics make this the perfect book for the beginning of the year.  Connecting the movement with the song like fluency with the print of a book provides early success to the young readers.


We also couldn’t let this post go by without sharing a website as well.  Go Noodle is perfect for community building and get-up-out-of-your-seat breaks.  If you haven’t tried out this site, we’ll wait while you go check it out.  You’re back?  Great.  It provides classes with a safe, fun, and interactive way to move together.  The Go Noodle staff is highly supportive of classroom work, and it’s been fun getting to share and exchange ideas with them.  If you are on Twitter, follow them at @GoNoodle.


Get reading!  Get active!

Annie and Kendra are wives, mothers, and friends with a serious love of books.  Kendra teaches first grade, and Annie is an instructional coach.  To stay moving, Kendra runs, “yogas”, and enjoys a bike ride and a good swim from time to time. Kendra’s secret?  She despises working out at the gym. (Too stuffy.) Annie’s secret is getting up before the sun rises. Training for races, playing with her young kids, and walking with her mom keep her moving.  After working out, they love to collapse on the couch with a good book.  Kendra and Annie are both passionate about building classroom communities through reading and movement.  You can find them on Twitter @KendraLimback & @AnnieOrsini and follow their blog