The Next Step to Get Kids Walking? Reading!

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Henry Dunbar Tweet Us @WalkArlington@WalkArlington December 15, 2017

Henry Dunbar is the Director of Operations for Active Transportation. He is a year-round bike commuter and wants to make it easy for everyone to get around by whatever mode they choose, except driving alone which should be harder.

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Want your kids to walk? Start by letting them hear and read stories of people walking (then take them for a walk).

Two things we know are good for you, without a doubt, and especially good for children: reading and physical activity. The research is undeniable.

For the holiday season, we’ve done the public service of finding great children’s books that inspire active transportation, so you can give a gift that keeps on giving. Many of them also remind us that if you want your kids to walk, you better let them see you do it, too.

Reading and Moving

A Snowy Day, the Ezra Jack Keats classic, is seasonally relevant and a great place to start. It reminds us that a snow day is not an excuse to binge watch television or have marathon gaming sessions but is a great opportunity to take a walk, just like Peter.

Here are six more titles compiled by National Safe Routes to Schools—there’s that connection of movement and learning, again. These offer more opportunities to encourage the young ones in your life to lace up a pair of shoes, and go for a walk.

Ruby’s School Walk by Kathryn White. A mother and daughter see the world differently as they walk to school together.

The Listening Walk by Paul Showers. An ode to exploring and observing the world with your ears.

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile: Lyle Walks the Dogs by Bernard Waber. Croc gets a job walking dogs. What could go wrong?

A Good Night Walk by Elisha Cooper. Another take on parent and child walks highlighted by the observations each person makes.

Henry Works by D.B. Johnson. The story of Thoreau’s walks.  His neighbors think he isn’t doing anything, but he knows better.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis. No parents this time. Instead, a young boy does his night walks with the moon.

The Classics

And, in a bit of a stretch, more classics we like:

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. This title poem in this collection reminds adults that we need to get back to the idealism on our youth.

The Busiest Street in Town by Mara Rockliff. Two ladies practice tactical urbanism (though they don’t know it) to make their street more walk-friendly.

Down, Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle. This one is personal. I recently bought some new trail-worthy casual office shoes, but they squeak with every step, much to the annoyance of my coworkers. This story follows Appalachian siblings, Hetty and Hank, as they work a patch of turnips they hope to sell, using the profits to buy new shoes. Not just any shoes, mind you, but special ones that sing ‘creaky-squeaky-creaky-squeaky,’ every time they walk.

What are your favorite children’s books that feature walking? Leave a message in the comments.

Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/

  • Holly Fulmer says:

    A Cat Named Denali – Book Two: Arlington would be a great addition to your list!

  • Barbara Amodio says:

    A book store in Vernon Ct created a walking book tour on our Hop River Trail. Young children walk a mile stopping to read one page from a picture book every so many feet on the way out and back. The pages are enlarged and displayed behind plexiglass.


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