Movement Matters and ANIMALS MOVE

I am excited and proud to share a guest post today by my colleague and famous picture book author Jane Whittingham. You may have seen Jane’s books on your library shelves, at bookstores, or on many of my storytime books lists. In sum, they rock. And the good news is she has another one out this year! It’s my honour to shine a spotlight on this Canadian title that is sure to be a storytime hit. Here’s Jane to introduce her newest title, Animals Move.

A wise instructor once said that I could try and force young children to sit still for the entirety of a program, or I could harness their natural energy and exuberance and use it to my advantage. As anyone who’s read any of my books or experienced any of my programs will tell you, I always, always choose the latter. 

I strongly believe in the importance of movement, especially in early childhood, and I’m not the only one – a growing body of research consistently “shows a link between cognitive development and movement, meaning children need opportunities to move so they can learn” (Amor). Physical activity isn’t only good for children’s physical health, it also plays an important role in their emotional well-being, as well (“Physical activity for children: how much”) . When it comes to movement in early childhood, as the NHS puts it, “all movement counts. The more the better.” (“Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5 years)”)

This awareness of the importance of healthy movement inspired me to write my most recent storytime picture book, ANIMALS MOVE (Pajama Press, 2022). Full colour photographs show an assortment of adorable baby animals and exuberant children wiggling, jumping, wobbling, grooving and otherwise moving their bodies. While working on the book, my editor and I strove to create as inclusive and diverse a book as possible, recognizing that movement can take many different, but equally important, forms. Healthy movement is important for all young children, but what that movement looks like and the forms it takes will of course vary from child to child, and situation to situation. There’s no one way to be a child, and as such, there’s no one way to move your body. 

My hope is that ANIMALS MOVE will be a valuable addition to storytime and circle time collections, and will support children’s librarians, early childhood educators and caregivers as they support children’s healthy physical, emotional and intellectual growth and development. If you happen to use ANIMALS MOVE in a program, I would absolutely love to hear about it! 

Jane Whittingham is a Canadian children’s librarian, picture book author and mum. 

Works Cited

Amor, Jacqueline. “Movement Builds a Child’s Brain – Articles Articles.” Penn State Extension, 18 May 2020, https://extension.psu.edu/movement-builds-a-childs-brain. Accessed 5 April 2022.

“Physical activity for children: how much.” Raising Children Network, 20 April 2020, https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/nutrition-fitness/physical-activity/physical-activity-how-much. Accessed 5 April 2022.

“Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5 years).” NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-guidelines/physical-activity-guidelines-children-under-five-years/. Accessed 5 April 2022.

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