When my husband and I decided to travel down the path of parenthood, one of the first missions of impending motherhood I set out on was to find a children’s book about running. It’s not that I wanted to push running on my future child, but I wanted a fun way to share a major passion between their father and I. I wanted to begin teaching them what running means – far beyond the physical aspect – without having to wait until they were able to run themselves.
This mission was far harder than I expected. Despite its gradually growing popularity in our culture, running still doesn’t compete for the general society’s interest the way some other sports do. Yet I refused to believe I had the only family who wanted to share running with their baby. Nearly two years later, my researching has paid off and I’ve compiled a list of fun, clever, and engaging children’s books about running. Have you heard of any of them?
Last One Home is a Green Pig
I came across this gem, by Edith Thatcher Herd, purely by coincidence while perusing the shelves at a used bookstore. The story is loosely based on the familiar tale of the Rabbit and the Hare, only I found this version far more laugh-inducing, as both of the main character, Monkey and Duck, cheat elaborately and take shortcuts while trying to win. They both learn about the downfalls of cheating, how to win gracefully, and that friendship is more important than winning.
Pellie Runs a Marathon
It’s hard for a child – or anyone, really – to truly understand what it feels like to endure the entire 26.2 miles of a marathon, but author Michele Creamer based Pellie’s the duck’s marathon thoughts and feelings on her own marathon experiences, which helps bring the story to life while remaining an accurate description of a marathon’s many stages. Pellie doesn’t always feel like she’ll make it to the end, but she keeps plugging along – and even sings a little song to occupy her mind.
See Mom Run!
This story touched my heart because I used to ride my bike alongside my mom on her runs, just like the main character Penny. Penny is so proud of her mom finishing a marathon that she wears the finisher’s medal to school for show and tell and shares how she helped her mother train. The book, by triathlete Kara Douglass Thom, is unexpectedly witty – both the story and pictures – and is the perfect read for any child with a running parent.
We Are Girls Who Love to Run
This English-Spanish children’s story by Brianna Grant celebrates the true spirit of running, with the young female narrator explaining, “Some days I run quickly, my feet carrying me like lightning racing the wind. Other days I walk, soaking in the world around me.” The bright pictures show girls of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicity truly enjoying the act of moving and exercise in the form of running. Any young girl could benefit from the positive messages and energy within this children’s book.
The First Marathon: The Legion of Pheidippides
Perhaps the first real superhero of the running world, the legion of Pheidippides explains where, why, and how marathons came to be. The pictures help keep children engaged and soften some of the harder concepts of the story, such as the battles and the eventual death of Pheidippides. The biggest down side to the story is that the description of Pheidippides running 140 miles in 36 hours, then turning around and doing it again, make his marathon distance (26.2 miles) victory run a bit less impressive.
This cute story by Amy Dixon tells the journey of one mouse who dreams of competing in the New York City marathon. The message is clear: anyone with enough gumption and dedication can do a marathon if they really believe in themselves.
Run Dad Run!
This is perhaps the most elusive children’s book about running, but definitely worth the extra effort to obtain. The story, written by Dulcibella Blackett, features a boy and girl whose father – that just happens to be a runner – ends up being a hero because he must run many miles to rescue someone in need. I think we’ve all imagined our running skills coming in handy in such an impressive manner – how fun to have an actually story where the hero is a regular runner!
By: Audra Rundle