Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lost in the Pages: Book Review: The Treasure of Health & Happiness

Carol Goodrow, the author of The Treasure of Health & Happiness, reports that of her three books this is her FAVORITE! Though it isn't her best selling (that honor is held for her 2004 title Happy Feet, Healthy Food: Your Child's First Journal of Exercise and Healthy Eating), is is also the favorite of children she shares it with.

Treasure follows the journey of a young, inactive girl, Hannah, as she struggles to discover her confidence and her "inner athlete" (my term, not hers). I immediately related to Hannah - she felt strongest and most loveable when she was around her best friend. When her best friend moved, Hannah's sense of security vanished and she had to work extra hard to re-establish her sense of self. As an Air Force brat I was often on the moving end of friendships, but could identify with Hannah's predicament. With today's mobile society, I'm sure many youngsters will find a kinship with this kind-hearted and timid girl.

Hannah also felt that her school's annual Chipmunk Chase fun run was out of her reach, something she surely couldn't even attempt, let alone complete. Running scared me throughout my youth, too. I'm sure I would have taken Hannah's initial position and avoided the event. I'm thrilled that she finds the strength and excitement to give it a shot (involving her parents in the training, no less!) - and secretly wish that I had been as strong and tenacious as young Hannah (it took me 23 years to build up the courage to run!)!

If readers can relate with her in the beginning, then I'm sure they'll cheer as I did as Hannah faces her fears and discovers the excitement in trying new things: she gets a dog and faces the trials and pleasures of training him, finds satisfaction in tending a garden and eating its fruits, puts aside her fears and rides a two-wheel bicycle, and (this is my favorite because it is SO like my own running story) ultimately unlocks discovers the joy of running!

As an educator, I found my brain making dozens of connections for how teachers can use Treasure in their classrooms. Not only is it a great motivational book to share some simple and fun lessons in making healthy food choices (without being preachy) and making exercise fun and approachable for people at all fitness levels, but it makes great cross-curricular connections, perfect for use in a health unit in the lower elementary years. As Hannah gleans a treasure of health and happiness in her dream world (a great read-aloud!), classes can track their own progress and interests in eating and fitness with tables/graphs/charts. Heck, they could use Happy Feet, Healthy Food as personal journals throughout the unit . . . and on into the school year and beyond - is Carol smart, or what?!!

Parents/Educators who are looking for uplifting and encouraging chapter book reading experiences for their kindergarten-third grade students will find The Treasure of Health & Happiness to be a great read for adults and kids share together. It not only serves as a positive example of making life-style choices and the importance of making choices as a family or classroom, but it is certain to fuel conversations about WHY and HOW to make healthier choices (without being obsessive!).

I'd also like to direct your attention to Carol's site (a micro site of Runner's World). KidsRunning is hosting a fun contest for new running games. Be sure to check it out, test out some new twists on old running game favorites with your friends/kids/students, and then send in the game. If your game is chosen to highlight on KidsRunning, you'll get a Runner's World t-shirt!

Now get out there and get those creative juices flowing - there's nothing like a good read or a good run to kick-start that ol' imagination!

Next book on my list is an old favorite from my high school days (but a great inspirational read for any age): Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. Never heard of it? Perfect! Stay tuned, and you'll be ready to get your hands on a copy.
*Yes, go to and you can "Look inside!"
Oh, and keep sending ME your ideas for book reviews. I have two brand spankin' new titles headed my way for review, but I'm still looking for more!

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