San Luis Obispo County
University of California
San Luis Obispo County

Supporting School Wellness: Books for Birthdays

Books for birthdays

Books for birthdays is a great way to commemorate students' birthdays, support school wellness policies, avoid food safety and allergy issues, and build classroom libraries. It is a simple change that encourages students to add their favorite book to the classroom library on their birthday instead of bringing treats for their classmates.

Why Does it Matter?

Books for birthdays provides a healthy alternative to cupcakes and plastic goodies. Many parents want to (or feel guilty if they cannot) make something special for their child's birthday to share at school. Parents tend to go for high sugar, low-nutrient treats to celebrate these "special occasions." However, there is an average of 32 "special occasions" per year in an elementary school classroom. So these high-sugar, low-nutrient foods have become regular additions to students' diets, rather than occasional treats.


What can I do?

Whether you're a parent, teacher, administrator or student, you can promote and encourage something positive, fun and healthy: Books for Birthdays. Instead of bringing in a sugary treat, food item or plastic toy, parents can bring in their child's favorite book.

  1. Download and personalize the Books for Birthdays flyer (or create your own). Books for Birthdays - Template
  2. Get the Principal and Teachers on board, ask for a meeting to discuss and show the flyer.
  3. Present the idea at the next PTA/PTO meeting.
  4. Ask if your school or district has a School Wellness Committee and present Books for Birthdays there.
  5. Lead by example, bring in a book to share and see the smiles!

My child's birthday is coming up, how does it work?

  1. Your child picks out their favorite book. This does not have to be a new book, it can be a well-loved book from home or one purchased from a second-hand store like the Salvation Army.
  2. They (or you) write their name and a brief birthday message on the inside cover.
  3. You donate the book to your child's class.
  4. Many teachers will read the book with the class to celebrate the special day.
  5. The book will be in the classroom for years to come.
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