Reading for Generations: Illustrating Healthy Eating with Page Turners

Book Reviews by Michelle Goetzl

Teaching children about nutritious food and where it comes from can be incredibly challenging. Thankfully, there are a variety of resources to help share the story of how our food gets to us and how to make healthy choices.

book lunchboxChildren take a journey and learn how the foods in a well-balanced lunchbox get there in Chris Butterworth’s “How Did That Get in my Lunchbox?” From the task of making bread and cheese to growing fruits and vegetables, this books makes the process fun. The book ends with an explanation of the different food groups and a statement that most of your plate should come from fruits and vegetables. It’s a big hit with kids!

Another book that shows how foods make it from the farm to our tables is “Chef Foody’s Field Trip,” by Agostino Traini, originally published in Italian but now available in English. In this beautifully illustrated book, children see how a variety of foods are grown, harvested, and turned into the foods that we know and love. In addition to showing the full farming method, this ingenious book also explains how foods are processed into things like flour, pasta, jams, yogurt and other staples. There are also sections on how we get meat and seafood and how they are processed into individual cuts. It’s a colorful way to learn about where our food comes from.

The focus is all about eating well and how that helps keep you healthy inn Robie Harris’ “What’s So Yummy?” This story follows two young children and their family as they visit the local co-op farm and markets. It introduces vegetarian diets as well as food allergies and the value of drinking water. It also illustrates how people may get tired or cranky when they are hungry and encourages healthier family lifestyles that feature balanced meals and exercise.

A book that reinforces what a diet of too much junk food does to your body is “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.” When Mama Bear notices all of the junk that her family keeps snacking on, she decides that it is time to get rid of the junk foods. A fortuitous run-in with the family physician while at the market buying wholesome foods also brings the whole family to doctor’s office for a lesson on how our bodies work and the pitfalls of junk food. Mama does a great job of moving her family away from the sugar balls and coco-chums toward healthier, nutrient-filled snacks that keep them going as they also get out and exercise more. For younger kids who respond better to fiction, this is a perfect way to start teaching them about nutrition.

Goetzl writes an online blog—”Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at booksmykidsread@gmail.com.