Top Ten Children’s Books for Healthy Eating

And some suggestions for you too...

  • Chef Ann News
  • August 19, 2015
  • By: Mara Fleishman
  • Comments

Getting kids to understand food and their bodies early on in their development is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. How their bodies thrive and perform will be a constant consideration in their lives and the more they understand how to take care of themselves and value what they put in their bodies, the better off they will be. As a Mom of three, spanning ages 4-14, there are many things that I have not "met the mark" on as I have raised my kids. It all moves so fast and you are making most decisions on the fly. One thing I have committed to though is making sure they are exposed to healthy meals. In our house, mealtime is valued as it should be. Each one of my kids has a different relationship with food, but they all understand how food affects their bodies, which foods make them feel healthier, and which don't. 

There are so many great books out now that are helping parents and teachers educate their kids about food and nutrition. From toddlers to first readers to teens there is a plethora of options dedicated to food literacy. We know it can be difficult at times wading through all the options available, so we've done the research, read the books, and here are our top picks, broken out by age group...and a few reading suggestions for you too.

Ages 1-3:

Eating the Alphabet, by Lois Elhert

“While teaching upper- and lowercase letters to preschoolers, Ehlert introduces fruits and vegetables from around the world. A glossary at the end provides interesting facts about each food.”

Growing Colors, by Bruce McMillan

“What color is a bean? Green? Or might it be purple? Dose a plum grow in, on, or above the ground? Join award-winning photo-illustrator Bruce McMillan as he takes his camera in search of some of nature's gorgeous colors found in gardens and orchards--and expect the unexpected.”


Ages 2-5:

Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Elhert

“Together, a father and child share the joys of planting, watering, and watching seeds grow. And once their harvest of tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and corn is ready, they'll cook it up into the best soup ever! Lois Ehlert's bright, graphic art and simple text make this vibrant board book a perfect read-aloud for budding gardeners and their families.”

Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden, by Candlewick Press

“Peppa and her little brother, George, love to help Grandpa Pig in the garden. They discover that everything grows from seeds planted in the dirt, and that even the apple that falls on Grandpa Pig’s head has seeds inside! Join the amiable Peppa and her spirited family as they shoo away birds and "monsta" snails, imitate butterflies and worms, make a scarecrow, and gather ingredients for a fresh salad — and Granny Pig’s delicious blackberry pie.”

What’s So Yummy? All About Eating Well and Feeling Good, by Robie H. Harris

“Follow a family as they head to their community garden, farmers market, and grocery store, and then prepare, cook, and pack their food for a picnic in the park.” 


Ages 4-8:

The Gulps, by Rosemary Wells. Ills. by Marc Brown

“The members of the Gulp family are weighed down by fast food and unhealthy processed snacks. They weigh so much that their car can’t even move. Luckily, they break down near a farm, where they learn that eating fruits and vegetables and doing plenty of hard work makes them healthier and happier.”


Ages 6-12:

The Carrot Monster Collection, by Margie A. Wirth and Julie A. Sherfinski

“This book collection follows the story of a charming dog who grows a garden and loves vegetables. The dog (like the author) is gluten-free and his story encourages youngsters to try new and delicious fruits and vegetables. The series includes a storybook, and two coloring cookbooks (one with gluten-free recipes, the other with gluten-free and vegan recipes).”


Ages 8-12:

Kids Fun and Healthy Cookbook, by Nicola Graimes, Illus. by Howard Shooter 

“Put the fun back into healthy eating with this bright and colorful cookbook. This lively collection encourages kids to consider what they eat and how it affects their bodies, without preaching. Yummy interpretations of old classics, as well as new recipes destined to become classic help turn eating into a delicious treat.”


Ages 12-17:

Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs, by Rozanne Gold and her All-Star Team

“Make It Fresh. Make It Fast. Make It Awesome. Renowned chef Rozanne Gold has assembled an All-Star Team of teen chefs--kids who love to cook and love to eat good food--to create more than eighty mouth-watering recipes, attuned to the seasons, refined for the kinds of food teens want to eat. With plenty of snacks, smoothies, school lunches, burgers, fabulous pizza, desserts, and more, each delicious bite is made with the freshest, best-for-you ingredients you can find. Fully illustrated with photos of this cooking team in action, here is a cookbook no aspiring chef will want to miss.” 


Ages 13+:

Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Readers Edition, by Michael Pollan

“Based on Pollan's best-selling adult book of the same title, this (slightly) shortened version will appeal to thoughtful, socially responsible teens. The book is divided into four sections: "The Industrial Meal" (exemplified by the fact that only two companies, Cargill and ADM, buy nearly a third of all the corn grown in the U.S.); "The Industrial Organic Meal" (covering most of what's found in stores like Whole Foods); "Local Sustainable" (small farms typically based on grass, not corn); and what he calls the "Do-It-Yourself Meal" (where he hunts a wild pig and gathers wild mushrooms). He explains complicated issues clearly, offers compelling evidence of the environmental damage done by what he calls the industrial meal, and urges readers not to look away from animal-welfare issues: "We can only decide if we know the truth." 


Adults:

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan

“Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan’s trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page accompanied by a concise explanation. It’s an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the perfect guide for anyone who ever wondered, ‘What should I eat?’”

Food Matters, by Mark Bittman

“From the award-winning champion of culinary simplicity who gave us the bestselling How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian comes Food Matters, a plan for responsible eating that’s as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health. We are finally starting to acknowledge the threat carbon emissions pose to our ozone layer, but few people have focused on the extent to which our consumption of meat contributes to global warming. Think about it this way: In terms of energy consumption, serving a typical family-of-four steak dinner is the rough equivalent of driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home. Bittman offers a no-nonsense rundown on how government policy, big business marketing, and global economics influence what we choose to put on the table each evening. He demystifies buzzwords like “organic,” “sustainable,” and “local” and offers straightforward, budget-conscious advice that will help you make small changes that will shrink your carbon footprint — and your waistline.”

Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, by Ann Cooper

“Known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady,“ Chef Ann has worked for nearly two decades to transform cafeterias into culinary classrooms. In Lunch Lessons, she and Lisa Holmes spell out how parents and school employees can help instill healthy habits in children. The two explain the basics of childhood nutrition and suggest dozens of tasty, kid-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. They also recommend how to eliminate potential hazards from the home, bring gardening and composting into daily life, and support businesses that provide local, organic food. Still, learning about nutrition and changing the way you run your home will not cure the plague of obesity or poor health for this generation of children. Only parental activism can spark widespread change. With inspirational examples and analysis, Lunch Lessons is more than just a recipe book—it gives readers the tools to transform the way children everywhere interact with food.” 

The Third Plate, by Dan Barber

“Today’s optimistic farm-to-table food culture has a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food. In his visionary New York Times–bestselling book, chef Dan Barber offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too. Looking to the detrimental cooking of our past, and the misguided dining of our present, Barber points to a future “third plate”: a new form of American eating where good farming and good food intersect. Barber’s The Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.”

 

And remember, if you're purchasing any of these books on Amazon, shop through Amazon Smiles and choose Chef Ann Foundation as your "Supporting" charity. Amazon will donate a portion of your total purchase amount to CAF!

Happy reading!

 

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