First 5 California Creates New Children’s Book to Inspire Healthy Habits


Today First 5 California, together with Scholastic, launched the newest storybook in the educational “Potter the Otter” series and began placing approximately 750,000 free copies into the hands of some of the state’s most at-risk children. The bilingual book, It’s Picnic Day, Potter! was developed to engage children and families in an important conversation about healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating right and staying active.

“We know kids will delight in Potter’s story about picking healthy foods to eat and games to play, and parents and educators will appreciate this book as a tool to inspire positive choices from a young age,” said Camille Maben, First 5 California’s executive director.

The bilingual It’s Picnic Day, Potter! builds upon the successful “Potter the Otter” character and series created by FIRST 5 Santa Clara County. In addition, classroom materials that support the Common Core State Standards have been developed for use by pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers.

“We created ‘Potter the Otter’ as a fun and engaging character who can connect directly with children,” said Jolene Smith, CEO of First 5 Santa Clara County. “A rhyming and illustrated storybook with a character like Potter not only boosts early literacy, but instills healthy habits in children that can last a lifetime.”

Free copies of “It’s Picnic Day, Potter!” are being distributed statewide, with a particular focus on areas with a high proportion of low-income households. Children will receive the book through preschools, kindergarten classrooms, public libraries, pediatrician offices, and child care centers, as well as at various community events. The book also is being inserted into several Spanish-language newspapers and is available as an e-book online.

“The lessons that children and families draw from reading and talking together can have a powerful influence on the lives of young children. We are delighted to be partnering with First 5 California and helping to reinforce these important messages about making healthy choices,” said Ann Amstutz Hayes, senior vice president of Scholastic National Partnerships.

The book was officially launched today at a “Potter the Otter Day” event at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. The Potter-inspired day of book readings, games, and an original play kicked off a series of book launch events across the state.

To download or read the “It’s Picnic Day, Potter!” e-book, access free materials, and play an online educational game, visit