In today’s world, where childhood diabetes and obesity are on the rise and the pre-school and school systems are increasingly relying on junk food (as shown quite clearly in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution series, for example), it’s becoming more important than ever to teach our kids how to eat healthily. If you’re a parent who has tried to be mindful about food around their kids – good job! But if you’re wondering how to take a proactive approach in teaching them healthy eating habits, this article is designed to help you do just that – and through none other than children’s books.
Books are an amazing way to get a point across to a child, because if they like it, they won’t realize they’re being taught something. The books on this list may trigger great conversations (What are your favorite foods? How many colors have we eaten today?), but they also speak volumes on their own.
As a parent, you don’t need to go down the rabbit hole of hammering nutritional info into them, or making up rules. You’d be surprised how well kids absorb messages if they’re communicated in an enjoyable manner, and if they don’t feel any pressure to learn.
More often than not, they can sense your desperation to teach them – so lay low, check out our list of books, pick one that you think your kid might like, and let the chips fall where they may!
Change-it Cho (editor’s choice)
Age range: 6-9 years old
“Cho loves fruit, vegetables, healthy eating, perseverance and confidence.”
Aren’t all those grand things you’d want your child to adopt? Well, that and a few other reasons are what make Change-it Cho our editor’s choice on the subject. Through smart, engaging writing, witty dialogue, and the best role model for your child you could ever imagine, this awesome read will have your kid hooked.
First things first, Cho, the main character is such a smart, tough little girl. She feels strongly about how kids shouldn’t eat junk food all the time, and decides to take action. Through the challenges she faces when she tries to open a fruit stall in her town she learns how important it is to believe in yourself – and your children learn along with her.
But Change It Cho’s powerful message isn’t the only thing that’s great about this book – it’s also just plain funny. So don’t miss out on feisty little Cho – get the book, and teach your child some important life lessons about both healthy eating and doing things you’re passionate about.
Age range: 4-8 years old
“Two endearing siblings star in a witty story about the triumph of imagination over proclivity.”
According to the book’s blurb, and to the numerous great Amazon reviews this book has gotten, it’s the book to have if you have a fussy eater on your hands. The story goes like this: Lola is the uber-cute and relatable fussy eater (to fussy eater kids at least) and Charlie is her older brother, whose job it is to get her to try new things by using his vivid imagination.
The book itself is also designed to spark your child’s imagination through using all their senses. The illustrations are done in mixed-media, they use different fabrics, real food pics, sheets of wallpaper and sketchy drawings, so everything looks different, and feels different to the touch. This wildly patterned collage will definitely keep your children’s attention, and so will the witty, imaginative dialogue between the two siblings.
Age range: 4-8 years old
This is truly a wonderful book, and the premise is not only funny as hell, the jokes read very well to children. So what’s it all about? Gregory’s parents don’t approve of little Gregory’s eating habits, and why would they? His diet consists of nothing other than fruits, veggies, fish, dairy, and other similar “junk”, apparently unnatural for a young goat to eat. They take him to the doctor in order to get him to eat properly – a balanced diet of old shoes, shirts, buttons, and tin cans. When he finally starts eating like his parents feel like a goat should, he eats everything and gets a stomach ache. In the end, the story is about eating healthily and in moderation. The irony of the story isn’t lost on kids, and neither is the morale, and that’s exactly why Gregory, The Terrible Eater has been a children’s favorite for generations.
“Getting kids loving greens has never been so delicious and fun!”
If you have a picky eater of the I-don’t-like-greens variety, this wonderful children’s book is definitely for you. Your kid will love Jacob & Penny’s magical adventure in a secret kingdom where they meet a new friend – Flint The Dragon and join him on his quest to learn how to fly – through the magical power of nothing other than the Super Dragon Rocket Fuel!
The Super Dragon Rocket Fuel is a green smoothie, and once your kids learn that’s it’s the superpower behind Flint’s flying, they will want to try it at once. Luckily for you, the book includes the recipe (such a smart move on the author’s part, if we may add).
This innovative and interactive way of getting your little greens-hater to try out green foods is almost foolproof.
Quick tips on how to make the most of children’s books on healthy eating!
We would love for our kid to just magically adopt whatever great habit we think it’s best for them, but sometimes they need some extra encouragement. If you’re reading it to them – they already love it, so why not make the most of it by a few simple reading-time additions and techniques?
- Spark conversations with your kid. If they like the story they might have some questions of their own, but it’s nice if you can also lead the discussion. Ask them what their favorite part was, did they like what the main character was eating – before and after, do they have like a favorite thing from the book that they would love to try, what did they take away from the story? The important thing here is not to push their answers, and just let them fumble their way through them – that’s an amazing learning curve.
- Repetition is the mother of knowledge, right? We know you might easily tire of the same storybook over and over again, but your kids won’t, especially if they like it, and it might be a good idea to indulge them.
- Don’t rush through the experience! It can be really tempting to skip pages, rush through bedtime stories and call it a day, but when your children are enjoying themselves they are at their most attentive, so you should definitely take advantage. If you don’t want them to stay late at night, get them to bed a bit earlier instead – 10-15 minutes should do the trick and let you enjoy the time together. After all, they are only little once – they won’t be nearly as in the moment when they grow into teenagers!