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Written by:  Beth Shugg
Date: April 1, 2012

Teaching children how to make nutritious food choices ranks high among a parent's most important, but challenging, jobs. Grocery store aisles stuffed with cleverly named treats in brightly colored packaging make that job even more difficult. This month's book selections can help your child understand the importance of healthy eating and bridge the gap between where healthy foods come from and how they end up on our tables. Some of the books also offer tips for how kids can make their own healthy meals.

The Little Gardener by Jan Gerardi (Random House, $6.99) will delight toddlers and preschoolers, who will enjoy lifting the flaps in this brightly colored board book to learn about the tools and processes needed to make a garden grow. Ages 0-4 years. Hardcover.

Kylie's Special Treat: a Food Allergy Fairy Tale by Letizia Barbetta (Second Street Publishing, $18.95) makes a special connection with children who suffer from food allergies. In this spin on Cinderella, all of the maidens in the kingdom receive an invitation to make the prince a special treat. Kylie, who is allergic to milk, eggs and nuts, makes her most delicious allergy-free dessert and manages her food allergies with poise and confidence while attending the ball. Ages 4-8. Hardcover.

Molly's Organic Farm by Carol L. Malnor and Trina L. Hunner (Dawn Publications, $8.95) follows Molly, a sweet homeless cat, through an organic farm, where she climbs atop a compost pile and creeps through cornstalks and companion plants — like sunflowers and cucumbers. Molly also encounters creatures that keep the garden pest-free and enjoys a tasty treat at the produce stand. Ages 4-10. Paperback.

In Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99), readers learn that there are plenty of critters who also benefit from the garden Alice and her family plant each spring. Insects eat the plants, and birds and animals eat the insects. Two smart and amusing chickens offer in-depth, scientific information about the food chain on each page to provide a more detailed layer of information for older children. Ages 5 and up. Hardcover.

Packing Up a Picnic by Rick Walton and Jennifer Adams (Gibbs Smith, $9.95) offers tips for kids on putting together their own picnic to enjoy with friends. Chapters focus on how to pack picnics featuring the following themes: breakfast, bicycle, haunted, snow, surprise, beach and drive-in. Learn how to make spokes and wheels trail mix, ants on a log, "Under the Sea" finger Jell-O and more. Ages 6 and up. Paperback.

Good Girls Don't Get Fat by Robyn J.A. Silverman, Ph.D. (Harlequin, $16.95) offers invaluable advice for parents and friends of young girls suffering from a battered body image. Silverman provides insight on how girls perceive the way their mothers, fathers, teachers and friends view them, and explains why many girls equate being "fat" with being "bad." Read stories from real girls, answer Silverman's "Body Image Quotient" questionnaires, and familiarize yourself with her "Ten Commandments" to help young girls build up their body image confidence. Ages 12 and up. Paperback.

Be sure to check out our Books, Bytes and Bits blog in April for a chance to win these books and other great giveaways. .



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