Happy March! This month, I want to combine two of my very dearest loves: food and reading.
You know the quintessential food experience for many kids in school is to read “Stone Soup” and then make soup with their class? You probably also know that kids (even if they don’t like soup at home), usually try the stone soup at school! That is because Stone Soup is part of a fun learning experience that involves many of their senses.
You can do the same with your kids at home. For this month’s newsletter, I researched books that had to do with kids and food (or kids books that had a fun food element). I searched specifically for books that had a healthy angle—I was not looking for cake decorating books or sweets-inspiring stories!
I read these books with my kids (Alexander -1st grade and Elena – 3rd grade), and I recorded which ones they seemed particularly connected to. I sorted the books into Top Picks and Other Good Options. These are not judgments of the authors or quality of the books—you and your kids might have a completely different outcome from mine—but I thought I’d share what we experienced together. What a fun way to research a newsletter!
By the way, if your kids are in the older age range (these books are for preschool- elementary age kids), why not check out the Young Reader’s edition of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, a favorite book of mine?!
Happy reading, eating and experiencing! And scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to purchase any of these books.
Eat Healthy, Feel Great by William Sears, Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly. I loved this book because it talks about foods from a standpoint of “green light foods” (foods to eat all the time, like fruits and veggies, etc.), “yellow light foods” (OK to eat sometimes) and “red light foods” (stop eating= junk food). Kids really connect to this way of categorizing foods. There are recipes at the end; and one of my favorites is an alternative to candy necklaces (Fruit and Cereal necklaces).
Good enough to Eat, A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition by Lizzy Rockwell. We liked this one because it covered the basics (why we eat food) and also covered specific information like macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). The book also talks about digestion and the need for water. The book has nice pictures and gets a lot of information across!
Dinosaurs Alive and Well by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown. This book is the COMPREHENSIVE guide to health for kids, everything from nutrition to hygiene to exercise to emotional and social health. I think it is a really nice book (kids will recognize the drawings, as it is same illustrator as Arthur), but my kids like it in “snippets”. My daughter says, “There is SO much information in there!”
The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons. We all loved this book because it talks all about where vegetables come from and how they are categorized (it solved the problem we always had about seed-full tomatoes, cucumber and squash by calling them “Fruit Vegetables”). Great pictures and information.
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain. This was definitely the book the kids asked me to read over and over the most. The family shuns junk food (after papa splits his pants—my kids’ favorite part) and embarks on a healthier lifestyle. Good information and very entertaining.
The Little Red Hen by Carol Ottolenghi. This is one of our FAVORITE stories about helping out, especially in the kitchen. It is not about health or nutrition, just sharing in the work of the home’s hearth. I frequently find myself saying, “Whooooos’s going to help me (fill in the blank with any cooking/baking task)”.
What’s up With That Cup? By Sheila Keenan. This scholastic book has been a favorite of my kids for some time. It is not really about food or nutrition, but it introduces the concept of a special measuring cup for following recipes. (In the book the child makes paper maiche). It is a rhyming story and pretty catchy.
Other Good Options
The Healthy Start Kids Cookbook by Sandra Nissenberg. Maybe I got turned off a bit on this one because it had that outdated food pyramid (with all that bread, cereal, rice and pasta at the base, not specified as whole grains). But I do think that there is some great information in here and some good recipes, too. Nutritional content is provided for each recipe. This is a good book to give kids that want to start thinking about their own recipes; the recipes are simple, and you don’t have to worry about junky ingredients and poor nutritional content.
Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper. A cat, squirrel and duck love their vegetable soup! Maybe a good way to get younger kids to try things like veggies and soup. There is not much information about nutrition, but it is a group of friends that enjoy good food (soup) together.
Delicious, by Helen Cooper. Now Cat, Squirrel and Duck try a Beet soup. There is an easy recipe included. Maybe for a small child that could be lured by a pink food (note: that is how I got both of my kids hooked on salmon—a pink food).
Pretend Soup, by Mollie Katzen. I love the Moosewood Cookbook (same author), but I didn’t find that too many of these pages were dog-eared. I think they are too basic for my kids’ ages. This book might be fabulous for a preschooler, since you don’t have to read to follow the recipes (they are all illustrated). This way of showing how to prepare foods (through pictures) is very cute and creative.
A Pipkin of Pepper, by Helen Cooper. This book from the Pumpkin Soup series is good for the younger set that want to continue the adventures with Duck, Cat and Squirrel.
We Eat Food That’s Fresh, by Angela Russ-Ayon. This might be a good book for a younger set of readers. It doesn’t provide a lot of nutrition information. It is repetitive, which very young children like. There are some really nice pictures, and it is mostly fruit and veggie based. If you are hoping to get very small children engaged at a young age about fruits and veggies, this might be a good choice.
Heatlhy Snacks with Blue by J-P Chanda. I think my kids are too old for the Blues Clues stories, but if you have younger kids that you would like to get excited about eating a fruit salad, this book might work for you.
A First Cookbook for Children, by Evelene Johnson. This is a basic cookbook, not necessarily one that was written with optimal nutrition in mind. If you want to get your younger kids in the kitchen, this might be a good start. The pages are actually coloring pages, and the recipes are basic. There are treats/desserts, too. Nutritional information is not provided.
BUY the Books! – and remember that whenever you purchase something from Amazon via the links of our site, our sister organization Nurture receives a commission!
Other Good Options:
Disclaimer: This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.