iGrow Readers Back »

To combat obesity among South Dakota’s youth, SDSU Extension developed iGrow Readers. This program pairs children’s books such as Little Red Hen, Bread & Jam for Francis, and Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun, with activities that promote healthy eating and physical activity. A transdisciplinary team spent five years testing the program, and the resulting data showed that children who participate in iGrow Readers were more likely to try new foods, and to ask their parents for nutritional items when they grocery shopped together.

This is a free resource for parents, teachers and childcare providers. The curriculum utilizes popular and commonly available books that can be purchased or checked out from a local library. Eight Native American storybooks (marked with an * below), also promote the South Dakota Department of Education Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings. 

You may need to adapt the curriculum in various ways, dependent upon the specific age range of children and individual needs present within your classroom. Download the summary of this curriculum for a full list of objectives, activities and newsletters.

Pre-K to 2nd Grade Level

K-3rd Grade Level

1st-3rd Grade Level


The iGrow Readers curriculum began several years ago when SDSU Extension created a community-based program utilizing children’s books to integrate themes on healthy behaviors. The lessons and activities brought together evidence-based environmental and behavioral changes to promote improved long-term health outcomes. The expanded curriculum, now called iGrow Readers, focuses on children who are Pre-Kindergarten up to 3rd grade and includes some books with Native American-focused stories. A transdisciplinary team of faculty and staff at South Dakota State University, with expertise in the fields of Nutrition, Health Promotion, Physical Education, Early Childhood Education, and Extension have helped with the creation and research for the curriculum.

Project Supervisors

Suzanne Stluka, MS, RD, SDSU Extension Food & Families Program Director
Mary Bowne, Ed.D, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education

Project Manager and Primary Author

Karlys Wells, M.Ed. (former SDSU Extension Associate)

Contributing Authors

Former SDSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educators: Deb Rombough, Lawrence County & Deb Sundem, Codington County
SDSU Faculty: Mary Bowne, Ed.D & Tracy Nelson, Ed.D
SDSU Student Assistants: Jaclyn Shultz & Emily Smith


Audrey Rider, SDSU Extension 4-H Volunteer Field Specialist; Stephanie Chambliss (Former SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor) and Sonia Mack, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor; Tracy Nelson and Mary Bowne, SDSU faculty; and Suzanne Stluka, SDSU Extension Food & Families Program Director


Funding from United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education (SNAP-Ed); The Wellmark Foundation; SDSU Extension; South Dakota State University College of Education and Human Sciences; and SDSU/UNL T.O.P Graduate Program supported by the National Research Initiative Grant no. 2011-67002- 30202 from the Food and Agriculture Division of Nutrition.

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