Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday - Lost in the Pages: Book Review of Carol Goodrow's Kids Running

This is a guest post by Sheila Schencke, the other half of Balanced Steps (she also happens to be my mom!).

Sheila is an award-winning administrator, educator (K - graduate) and business woman. After years of classroom experience, she started the STARBASE Robins program at Robins AFB in Georgia and then put her experience to good use to start the STARBASE Louisiana program at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. These two programs were her "babies" - until Brianna's two kids came along. After Brianna's son turned one, she knew she couldn't stay away, so she and her husband, Marty (retired US Air Force Officer) relocated to Duvall, WA where they are within walking distance of those treasured grandchildren (oh, and Brianna and her husband, too).
Carol Goodrow’s Kids Running book has the perfect subtitle: Have Fun, Get Faster & Go Farther. Note the first premise, Have Fun! She keeps that emphasis throughout the book and that’s why it is a winner in my eyes, and in my heart. The illustrations are colorful and cheerful, with childlike simplicity that pulls you into the book. This book is chock-full of information and ideas. Carol is a teacher, a late-blooming runner and the founding editor of, a Runner’s World site.

Carol speaks to the “everykid”, with lots of enthusiasm and encouragement to get running in a healthy lifestyle. Many of us are enjoying the Olympics, but from the couch. Do the athletes make sports look impossible to you? To me, learning to run can be like trying to eat an elephant, way too much to even consider. However, Carol breaks the huge mental, physical and emotional tasks into small bites. She takes the intimidation out of learning how to run. Kids Running incorporates all you need to know about running: getting started, cardio, ways to have fun running, healthy snacks, cross-training, goal-setting, journaling and more good books. Carol sets us up for success. She starts with choosing the right sneakers for the job, and adds little hints, like “Double tie your laces so you don’t fall on your faces.” Carol coaches with humor and passion that jumps off the page, and finds ways to eliminate all your excuses not to join in the run.

Often, the children in the book share the information in a dialog, which keeps the learning upbeat and counters any “know-it-all” jock attitudes. I love that they model great group dynamics, noting different ways to achieve their fitness goals. Everyone can be a winner without going the fastest. Carol explains terms like cardio fitness and why it is important to healthy living. She also has the children talk about their progress during the book, like, “Remember when I used to gasp for breath?” “Your heart and lungs weren’t strong enough to run far.” “Now I can.” “I can even run a mile IF I pace myself.” We all learn right along with the kids in the book, celebrating different kinds of success. It’s easy, and taking it one step at a time it is not intimidating.

I know about being intimidated about sports, as I’m not an athlete like my siblings, two of whom are PE teachers. I was a skinny little kid, usually one of the last chosen for teams. I played outside a lot as a kid, but never set goals for sport. I did race on a swim team, more as something to do with my older sister than something to achieve. I was even a cheerleader, and a life guard, more as someone to be, to take the edge off my nerdiness. (That was before Title 9, and the only sport for girls at our school besides bowling. Our high school didn’t even have PE classes!)

As a teacher, I love that Carol puts learning into action with this book. Healthy bodies build strong minds. She integrates important learning into fun activities. It’s so much more fun to practice counting by 2s, 4s or 10s while you’re running. It also keeps spelling practice from becoming boring. And your brain remembers it more easily, too because you have more senses involved in the experience. A plain journaling assignment becomes inspiring when it centers around your own personal running experience. And powers of analysis come alive when you compare how far you’ve come with where you started. This book has more power, a list of children’s running books and websites. You can even read her reviews of other running books there (including Brianna’s We Are Girls Who Love to Run).

Love to run? I never even considered running, as a child or an adult. I never imagined I’d try it as a grandmother! Yet, I did this year when I trained and participated in my first 5K in our hometown’s Duvall Days in June. OK, it was part run, part walk, but I did it! My race goal was to finish, and in the cold pouring rain, that was a big accomplishment. To my amazement, I even won a ribbon for 3rd fastest in my age category.

My new goal is in Carol’s subtitle, Go Farther. I just joined a group to do the Seattle half-marathon at the end of November. Notice I joined a group, like the kids, so I can have fun. We are going to train together beginning in September. Dr. Scott Lynch has the whole training planned out for our group. He is leading us through the process one step at a time. We will practice on the Snoqualmie Trail between Duvall and Carnation.

Take the step to move Kids Running to the top of your reading list and share it with the kids you love! It was written just for kids, but speaks to the kid in all of us.
Next book review (by Brianna): Carol's lesser-known, but "treasure" of a book: The Treasure of Health and Happiness


Erin Leigh said...

I'll have to check it out!!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Enjoy your group - have fun training for that half marathon. :)