Children's Books That Inspire Healthy Eating
These tales help kids understand the importance of good nutrition
For many parents, the start of a New Year is all about encouraging our kids to make and (hopefully) keep resolutions centered on making their daily lives healthier and happier. If your family is putting a renewed focus on wholesome eating this year, here are some great children’s books to keep everyone motivated and excited about making healthy food choices.
In “Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli” (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 40 pages, Amazon Hardcover $13.59), author Barbara Jean Hicks, with the help of the very talented illustrator Sue Hendra, tells the story of how monsters (like kids) insist they don't like broccoli. They say they’d rather snack on tractors, rocket ships, or tender trailer tidbits. And don't even think about giving them artichokes, lima beans or anything green. The story takes a turn when the monsters eat giant maple trees, but soon discover they have been fooled into eating the dreaded broccoli. By the end, the readers learn that these monsters are actually children who have fallen for the age-old trick of calling broccoli "trees." The kids and monsters both admit those “trees” are so yummy they’d like a second helping. This hilariously entertaining and colorful book is geared towards kids 3-7 years old.
In “Healthy Eating (A True Book: Health)” (Scholastic Books, 48 pages, Amazon Library Binding $16.88), author and registered dietitian, Jane Sieving Pelkki, explains why fresh vegetables are the only way to get certain nutrients your body needs. Even for adults, it’s not always easy to figure out what the right foods are, so Pelkki addresses healthy eating in four chapters titled: “The Right Food,” “The Building Blocks of Food,” “Making Healthy Choices” and “The Science of Healthy Eating.” This book is for readers ages 8-10.
A completely different book by the same name, “Healthy Eating” (Capstone Press, 20 pages, Amazon Library Binding $21.71), is by author Helen Gregory and is a very basic book that describes each food group and how eating from all of the groups is important for good health and strong bodies. It begins, “Food gives your body energy for playing soccer and jumping in a sack race”… then goes on to say “Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins which help you grow, keep your teeth healthy, and heal sores.” This book is geared toward ages 4-8 and is an easy, unintimidating read.
In “Rotten Ralph Feels Rotten: A Rotten Ralph Reader” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 48 pages, Amazon Hardcover $2.50), author Jack Gantos and illustrator Nicole Rubel team up once again to tell the story of how our favorite red cat, Ralph, wakes up with one heck of a stomach ache after having raided trash cans the night before. He tears through a green chicken wing, squishy squid, furry fish and chunky chocolate milk, only to inevitably wind up at the vet with a colossal bellyache. His owner, Sarah, realizes Ralph has raided the trash and scolds him for not taking better care of himself. The vet decides Ralph must stay at the hospital overnight and soon Ralph realizes he is homesick and wishes he had not made such bad choices. He escapes the animal hospital but fights the urge to once again raid the trash cans while passing through the same alley on the way home. At home, he curls up in Sarah’s lap and tells her he has missed her healthy home cooking and is ready to adopt better eating habits. This tale is geared towards ages 6-8.
Elizabeth Lincicome is a mother, communications expert and freelance writer based in Raleigh.