For a long time I’ve wanted to write a children’s book dealing with the subject of families successfully confronting childhood obesity. As a matter-of-fact, I committed to completing this project in 2011. And I need your help.
In particular I wanted to write something that would help parents and children start a pretty darn difficult conversation without making the child feel bad about themselves. I was an overweight child and very sensitive as to what a delicate situation this is between parent and child.
I also wanted to take the opportunity to show parents that this is a FAMILY issue and therefore the family dynamic must change as well in order to help their child reach and sustain a healthy weight. Finally, I wanted the book to cover some real-world solutions that could inspire not only the parents and families of overweight children – but the other social institutions (i.e. school, day care, activities) the child is a part of.
Below is a draft narrative. I will be either doing the illustrations myself or partner with another artist. If you could read and leave your comments and suggestions I would very deeply appreciate it. The book is directed towards children between the ages of perhaps as young as 5 and most likely no older than 9. It is written at approximately a third grade reading level. Thank you so much for your help.
Once upon a time, in a land called America there lived a little girl named Peggy.
Peggy was a great little kid – but she was not happy.
Peggy was really smart and loved going to school. She worked hard to learn everything her teacher taught her. She did very well and got smiley faces on most all of her work.
She wanted the other kids in her school to like her – but they made fun of her. They called her names like “Teacher’s Pet” and “Kiss Up”.
Peggy liked learning things – but she did NOT like recess. She also did not like doing what her teacher called P.E.
At recess none of the other children would play with her. Peggy felt very sad when this happened. She sat on a bench by herself. She was very lonely.
Peggy told her Mom the other kids did not like to play with her. Her Mom started putting special snacks in her lunch pail. Peggy liked the snacks. Eating cupcakes made her feel better when she sat alone on the bench.
P.E. time was not fun at all. In P.E. you picked teams. No one wanted Peggy on their team. Peggy always got picked last.
Peggy was not good at the games in P.E. She could not throw a ball like other kids. When Peggy threw the ball it did not go where she wanted.
Peggy could not run as fast as the other kids. She always got tagged out or lost the race.
Peggy started telling the teacher she did not feel good at P.E. time. Sometimes Teacher let her just sit on the bench.
After school Peggy went to the Day Care Center. It was a little better. The Day Care Lady did not make her play with the other kids. The Day Care Lady said she did not want the kids to make trouble with each other. She did not make Peggy try to play with the other kids.
The Day Care Lady let Peggy play video games and watch movies. The Day Care Lady gave Peggy potato chips and chocolate pudding to eat. Having chips and pudding to eat when she played video games made Peggy feel better.
Sometimes the Day Care Lady made cookies. Peggy liked peanut butter cookies the best. Sometimes Peggy hid cookies in her pocket. She saved them for when she was feeling sad. Cookies made her feel better.
Peggy had to go to the Day Care Center because her Mom and Dad had to work. They worked a lot. Peggy was the last kid to get picked up from the Day Care Center.
Peggy liked it when her Mom and Dad came to get her. Mom and Dad felt bad that Peggy was the last one to get picked up. On the way home they let Peggy pick whatever she wanted to eat at the restaurant. Dad would even let her sit on his lap to tell the lady in the window what she wanted.
When they got home Peggy could not wait to eat her french fries and hamburger. She liked hamburgers with cheese on them. Most of all she liked her big strawberry milkshake.
Peggy felt bad that her parents were so tired. Mom and Dad turned on the TV when they came home at night. Most of the time they got to watch a movie. Mom and Dad let Peggy pick a snack for the movie. Peggy’s favorite was M and M’s.
Peggy felt good eating M and M’s with Mom and Dad on the couch.
One morning when Peggy was putting pants on for school she could not get the button done. Peggy was sad because they were a present she got last week for her birthday. She did not know why, but Peggy felt sad she did not fit into her pants.
Peggy’s Mom said she needed a bigger size and to put on other pants. Peggy put on her sweat pants. They did not have buttons or zippers.
When Peggy got to school she was sad because it was P.E. day. This time the kids called her another name. Peggy was last to be picked like all the other times. This time Teacher told Peggy she was on Team A.
One of the Team A kids said “We don’t want Fatty on our team.” The other Team A kids said, “Yeah, Fatty will make us lose.”
This made Peggy cry so Teacher let her sit on the bench. Peggy ate one of the peanut butter cookies she hid in her pocket. Eating the cookie made her feel a little better, but not as much as it did before the Team A kids called her Fatty.
When Peggy got to the Day Care Center she was still very sad. She ate a lot of potato chips. The bag was empty very fast. She asked the Day Care Lady for more and she opened a new bag for Peggy.
When Mom and Dad came to pick Peggy up from the Day Center Peggy told them that the kids called her Fatty. Peggy told Mom and Dad this when they were getting ready to order their hamburgers and french fries.
Peggy’s Mom and Dad said that this was a very mean thing for the kids to say. They told Peggy she was not a Fatty. But Peggy saw her Mom and Dad looked very sad. It made Peggy sad that the kids calling her Fatty made her Mom and Dad sad too.
Peggy ate some of her french fries on the way home and it made her feel better.
The next day was not the same as most days for Peggy. Mom and Dad went to school with her and talked to Teacher. When Mom and Dad came to pick Peggy up from the Day Care Center they did not go to get their hamburgers and french fries on the way home.
“What will we eat for dinner?” Peggy asked Mom and Dad. Mom said it was a surprise. They took Peggy to a little store on the side of the road. Dad said that Peggy could pick whatever she wanted. Peggy picked bananas and strawberries. Peggy’s Mom and Dad picked some green things.
When they got home Mom and Dad cooked the green things on the stove. They were called green beans. Mom made some rice and Dad put chicken in the oven. It tasted pretty good.
Peggy said she wanted her milkshake. Mom and Dad said they had something better. They let Peggy help to cut the bananas and strawberries into bowls. They put white stuff on the top. Mom and Dad called it yogurt. It tasted pretty good.
After they ate Mom and Dad took a walk with Peggy to the park. Dad pushed her on the swings. He showed Peggy how to push her legs to make the swing move. Mom climbed the ladder and went down the slide with Peggy. It was pretty fun. It was more fun than watching a movie.
The next P.E. day was different too. Teacher did not make teams. There was a big TV in the front of the P.E. room. This time Teacher said they were going play video games! Peggy liked this video game where you pretended to play different games like baseball. They even got to dance!
Peggy was a good dancer. Some of the other kids asked her to teach them some of her moves. This made Peggy feel good.
After school Peggy was happy to see Mom and Dad come to pick her up. They took her to a new Day Care Center. The new Day Care Lady let the kids help to make their snacks. That day they made popcorn and put raisins in little cups.
The new Day Care Lady even had a swing set. Peggy had fun showing the other kids how to push their legs to make the swing move. She liked climbing the ladder and going down the slide.
The Day Care Lady showed Peggy how to play a game called hop scotch. Peggy was not very good at it but she still had fun playing it with the other kids. It felt good to jump.
When Mom and Dad came to get Peggy from the new Day Care Center they were very tired. Mom said she was too tired to cook. But they did not go get hamburgers and french fries. They went to a fun place where Peggy got to make her own salad and pick her own soup. It tasted pretty good and was more fun than a hamburger.
On their way home Mom and Dad told Peggy that they signed her up to go to a dancing class! This made Peggy feel very good.
A few weeks later Peggy was getting ready for school. It was picture day. She wanted to look very nice. Mom helped her to pick what to wear.
“How about the pants you got for your birthday?”, said Mom.
“But I can’t do the button” said Peggy.
“Let’s see if you can do the button today” said Mom. Peggy was happy to find she could button the pants.
When Peggy got to school the other kids did not call her names. A few kids said they liked her pants. When Teacher told the kid who called Peggy the bad name he had to stand next to Peggy for the picture he just did it.
Two weeks later Peggy brought her school pictures home to show Mom and Dad. In her picture Peggy did not look sad.
Peggy had a big smile on her face just like the other kids.