May Is Family Wellness Month

May Is Family Wellness MonthMAY IS FAMILY WELLNESS MONTH. The commemorative month encourages healthy family lifestyles and habits. It underscores the importance of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health in happy, functioning families.

According to Mary Ann Russo, a SUNY Upstate Medical Center pediatric nutritionist, Family Wellness Month was created to help families overcome their biggest challenges to staying healthy and connected. As she explains in the Peds to Parents post, “Celebrate Family Wellness Month,” the goals was “to provide an opportunity to reflect on family habits, lifestyles and find ways to improve mental and physical health.” 

There are countless ways for PJ Library families to focus attention on well-being. Some families may spend time evaluating their overall lifestyle and habits. Others may set specific goals, such as spending more quality group time together, reading aloud regularly, eating well, or getting exercise. 

To help families commemorate Family Wellness Month, PJ Library has pulled together a list of Jewish children’s books (arranged by age group) corresponding to four areas of family wellness — eating well, being active, spending time together, and working together as a team.

However your family chooses to pursue family wellness, PJ Library supports your efforts. Making a few small changes to the family routine can go a long way.

Good nutrition and diet is an essential part of a healthy family. Try a new recipe or make food preparations a family affair.

All of Me All of Me: A Book of Thanks
Author: Molly Bang
Illustrator: Molly Bang
Ages: 18 mos.–3 yrs.

Focus: Appreciating the foods we eat.
Apple Days Apple Days
Author: Allison Sarnoff Soffer
Illustrator: Bob McMahon
Ages: 4 yrs.–6 yrs.

Focus: Making healthy snacks together.
Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons
Author: Alice B. McGinty
Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.

Focus: Enjoying what you eat (but not eating too much).


Get those healthy bodies moving! Be active as a family, either by trying something new or expanding an existing habit.

Shai's Shabbat Walk Shai’s Shabbat Walk
Author: Ellie Gellman
Illustrator: Holli Conger
Ages: 18 mos.–2 yrs.
Focus: Going on a family walk.
Sadie and the Big Mountain Sadie and the Big Mountain
Author: Jamie Korngold
Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry
Ages: 4 yrs.–6 yrs.
Focus: Taking a family hike.
Noah's Swim-a-Thon Noah’s Swim-a-Thon
Author: Ann D. Koffsky
Illustrator: Ann D. Koffsky
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Going for a swim.
Hare and Tortoise Race across Israel Hare and Tortoise Race across Israel
Author: Laura Gehl
Illustrator: Sarah Goodreau
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Going for a family jog.
Jumping Jenny Jumping Jenny
Author: Ellen Bari
Illustrator: Raquel Garcia Macia
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.

Focus: Exercising for a cause.

Focus on group togetherness by organizing family activities. Include relatives and close friends, even those who might live some distance, by traveling or hosting.

Fridays Are Special Fridays Are Special
Author: Chris Barash
Illustrator: Melissa Iwai
Ages: 18 mos.–2 yrs.
Focus: Preparing for Shabbat as a family.
Good Night, Laila Tov Good Night, Laila Tov
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Jui Ishida
Ages: 2 yrs.–4 yrs.
Focus: Exploring the world as a family (e.g. a camping trip).
Only Nine Chairs Only Nine Chairs
Author: Deborah Uchill Miller
Illustrator: Karen Ostrove
Ages: 3 yrs.–6 yrs.
Focus: Inviting family over for holiday celebrations.
First Rain First Rain
Author: Charlotte Herman
Illustrator: Kathryn Mitter
Ages: 4 yrs.–7 yrs.
Focus: Making a special trip to spend time with grandparents.
Oy! Feh! So? Oy! Feh! So?
Author: Cary Fagan
Illustrator: Gary Clement
Ages: 6 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Encouraging intergenerational connections.

Teamwork is fostered through practice. Whether your family cleans the house, does yard work, or helps others, it will be the group effort of working together that is important.

Mitzi’s Mitzvah Mitzi’s Mitzvah
Author: Gloria Koster
Illustrator: Holli Konger
Ages: 2 yrs.–4 yrs.
Focus: Planning a family visit to a Senior Center.
Say Hello, Lily Say Hello, Lily
Author: Deborah Lakritz
Illustrator: Martha Aviles
Ages: 4 yrs.–6 yrs.
Focus: Volunteering as a family.
The Magic Pomegranate The Magic Pomegranate
Author: Peninnah Schram
Illustrator: Melanie Hall
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Working together as a family to help others.
A Mountain of Blintzes A Mountain of Blintzes
Author: Barbara Diamond Goldin
Illustrator: Anik McGrory
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Achieving a goal by working together as a family.
The Schmutzy Family The Schmutzy Family
Author: Madelyn Rosenberg
Illustrator: Paul Meisel
Ages: 5 yrs.–8 yrs.
Focus: Having fun making messes and working together to clean them up.

Whether your family takes a walk, embarks on a trip, or prepares a Shabbat dinner, the group activity will have a healthy impact because it will have been done together. Spending time with family and those closest to you is the best way to focus on wellness.