Back to School Special! Fighting Childhood Obesity Can Make Kids Clever

“Pressed in each kid’s hot little hand on that last day of school was the ubiquitous Summer Reading List. With childhood obesity a major societal concern, pairing summer reading with exercise is a powerful way to slip in a one-two punch towards fighting obesity and helping kids get better grades,” says children’s author, Irene Smalls.

Recently researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen completed a three year study showing a sign cantly higher level of reading achievement in students who received books for summer reading at home.

According to the two researchers, “the summer reading setback (the summer slide) is the primary reason for the reading achievement gap between children who have access to reading material at home and those who do not.” Professor Allington said, “What we know is that children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development. While kids who do read, gain a month of reading proficiency. This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three year’s kids who don’t read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do.”

Smalls adds, “Many scientists, including Dr. John Ratey, in his book Spark cite several studies indicating increased physical activity also improves academic achievement. Additionally, a 2009 study in the Journal of School Health found physically fit kids scored better on standardized math and English tests than their less fit peers. Some kids groan at the mere sight of a book during the summer. Take heart. Combine summer reading with games, sports and exercise, in other words, FUN! The books kids need to read over the summer are a great source for book-based book-related exercise and movement or Literacy+Exercise=Literacise” Smalls’ suggest.

For better grades in the Fall, make sure your kids exercise reading and their muscles this summer.

This summer have your kids slide into reading, Stealing Home: a story about Jackie Robinson or Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. Have them slide across the dance floor popping and hip hopping reading the Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley or glide while reading Hooray for Ballet! by Margaret Frith and Amanda Haley. Or, have them slip and slide during a talking walk with Jonathan and His Mommy published by Little Brown and Company.

Here are four (4) simple tips to help your kids fight obesity and become reading superstars in the Fall:

1. Pick books from your childE¼s summer reading lists interesting to your child. 2. Match the books to a type of exercise, sport or activity. 3. Exercise with them. Read the book with them too. You are their role models. 4. Create incentives.

Give your kids an evening out to a destination of their choice or a special treat for a book read and a new exercise or sport tried that goes along with the book.

Irene Smalls is the award-winning author of ten books for children and the creator of Literacy+Exercise=Literacise. Learn more about Literacise at

Contact: Jennie Smith 617 504-3050

Kam Williams is a popular and top NewsBlaze reviewer, our chief critic. Kam gives his unvarnished opinion on movies, DVDs and books, plus many in-depth and revealing celebrity interviews.

Sadly, Lloyd Kam Williams passed away in 2019, leaving behind a huge body of work focused on America’s black entertainment community. We were as sad to hear of his passing as we were overjoyed to have him as part of our team.