Of course we want to teach our students about the importance of fueling their growing, playing, learning bodies with healthy food. When kids learn about good nutrition and develop positive attitudes about eating, it goes a long way toward lifelong health. Plus, kids deserve to learn about how GOOD healthy eating can feel—and taste! From trying new foods to learning to cook to understanding food allergies, and of course, eating those veggies, here are some of our favorite picture books about nutrition and healthy eating habits to share with kids.
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1. Rah, Rah, Radishes: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre
This photographic celebration of vegetables shows them at their very best. It’s one of our favorite catchy (not teach-y) nutrition books to share with little kids to kick off a healthy eating or plant unit. Also, check out Go, Go, Grapes: A Fruit Chant to get everyone just as excited about fruit!
2. Summer Supper by Rubin Pfeffer
This alliterative story tells the field-to-table tale of a healthy, seasonal meal. It’s great for getting kids thinking about where their food comes from and talking about their own family food traditions.
3. Maurice the Unbeastly by Amy Dixon
Maurice may be an unusually gentle monster, but he’s determined to be himself. That includes steadfastly preferring green veggies to traditional monster fare. For kids with a negative attitude about vegetables, Maurice shows that kale is most definitely cool.
4. Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat
Gregory loves fruits, vegetables, eggs, and fish, rather than the typical goat fare of tires, cans, and t-shirts. Kids will find it hilarious that Gregory’s parents don’t want him to eat his fruits and veggies and instead want him to eat trash. Instead of being told what’s healthy, the kids will be pointing it out themselves in this book of silly role reversals.
5. I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Charlie and Lola) by Lauren Child
Lola won’t eat healthy foods until her brother creatively renames them, calling carrots “Orange Twiglets from Jupiter,” and mashed potatoes “Pointy Peaks of Mount Fuji.” After reading, have your students come up with other creative fun names for commonly disliked foods or write a story about a time they ate something new and were surprised by its taste.
6. How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth
A big part of making healthy food choices is understanding where food comes from. Each colorful spread teaches kids how a common lunch food grows or is produced. The back matter includes a brief intro to food groups.
7. Tyler Makes Spaghetti by Tyler Florence
A little boy who loves spaghetti gets to spend the day making fresh pasta, sauce, and meatballs with a local chef. Get kids wondering about the ingredients in their favorite meals.
8. The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Kids love this hilarious tale that gently pokes fun at picky eaters. Are the seven Peters siblings healthy eaters? Probably not, but the book will definitely get kids discussing what healthy nutrition really looks like.
9. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Here’s the classic children’s story about overcoming food objections. Like strong-minded children everywhere, it takes a great deal of convincing for Sam to try a new dish.
10. To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure
Nutritious food begins with nutritious ingredients. This timeless book captures the habits of healthy food shopping so beautifully. To market, we go!
11. Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies by Jorge and Megan Lacera
Zombie Mo Romero has a dark secret: He loves veggies. He even grows them in a hidden garden! Mo’s attempts to get his parents to vegetables a chance will have kids laughing–especially the clever solution he eventually finds. This is a great story for talking about trying foods prepared in different ways to find one you like. There’s also a Spanish version of the book available.
12. The Princess and the Peanut Allergy by Wendy McClure
This riff on The Princess and the Pea introduces food allergies in a relatable context: a birthday party. When Regina’s friend Paula explains her peanut allergy, Regina revamps her cake plans so Paula can safely eat. This is a helpful story both to empower those with food allergies to advocate for themselves and to encourage empathy from others.
13. Aiden the Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped: A Food Allergy & Intolerance Story by Colleen Brunetti
This story mirrors many kids’ experiences, worries, and wonders about food intolerances, allergies, and sensitivities. Aiden learns about what he can and can’t eat to keep feeling his “super” best. He also learns there are lots of kids in the world like him!
14. Every Night is Pizza Night by J. Kenji López-Alt
Here’s a story for every kid who thinks pizza—or any other favorite food—should be permanently on the menu. Pipo’s undying love for pizza means she’s not interested in eating anything else. Then she takes a trip around her neighborhood and learns about tons of other interesting and yummy options. This title is great for sparking conversations about the importance of varied eating!
15. Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed
Bilal’s friends are curious about the meal his dad is busy cooking—especially when he calls Bilal to help start making it WAY before dinner time. The day turns into a fun-filled team cooking adventure, and ends with Bilal’s pals tasting a new, delicious dish. Use this story to encourage kids to have a curious attitude about unfamiliar food.
16. Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff
Frieda Caplan launched her identity as a “produce pioneer” when she began encouraging the Seventh Street produce market in LA to sell types of fruits and vegetables most people hadn’t tried before. Thus began her career in introducing US customers to kiwifruit, horned melon, purple asparagus, and more. This unique biography will surely entice kids to look for something new to try the next time they go to the market!
This is one of our favorite nonfiction nutrition books for kids, and it’s a cool cookbook to boot! It uses a perfectly accessible concept for kids to make sense of healthy eating: Eating a rainbow! It’s full of gorgeous step-by-step photos, which makes it an excellent how-to writing mentor text for the classroom.
What are your favorite nutrition and healthy eating books for kids to share? Let us know in the comments!
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This content was originally published here.