Combine story time with educating kids about nutrition, and you have a recipe for success! These 10 books that teach nutrition are perfect to get you started!
Kids learn in many ways. Children’s stories, poems, and fictional characters have the potential to teach lessons in a new and exciting way, rather than a lecture about what they should or shoudn’t be doing. We have 10 books that make it fun to reinforce healthy eating and healthy habits in a fun, new, and inspiring way!
- N is for Nutrition – This is a brand new book, and I couldn’t love it more! Every letter of the alphabet is followed by a food or nutrient that kids can include in their diet. This book is perfect for kids ages 4-8 years old. Here is an excerpt: O is for oranges- Oranges are a healthy snack, full of vitamin C, cut them up and peel them back, they’re great for you and me!
- We Are What We Eat– by Kristy Hammil- This book uses talking and rhyming food characters to teach healthy concepts. According to the description, “Your kids will start to recognize the difference between foods that are nourishing to their bodies and foods that aren’t. They will be telling YOU when a certain treat is going to make them feel yucky from their head to their feet! ” Great for kids 2-10 years old.
- Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk food- There are so many gems for teaching kids in the Berenstain Series, including, Too Much TV, Manners, Kindness, and more. This story follows Papa, Brother, and Sister who are eating too much junk food. Mama and Dr. Grizzly attempt to help them understand the importance of nutritious foods and exercise.
- Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert- This is more of a picture book, but kids enjoy reading and seeing all the foods that are associated with each letter. There is a glossary at the end with foo facts about the different foods featured. Since it’s a picture book mostly, it’s great for kids ages 2-3 years old.
- The Fruits We Eat by Gail Gibbons- I was drawn to this book for the simple connection I had with Gail who writes: Whether fresh, cooked, dried, canned, or frozen…fruits are delicious and nutritious! THIS is the message we try to share with everyone! Fruits and veggies in ALL it’s form helps kids to expand their palette. Gail talks about how different types of fruits are grown in different climates and places. She shares information about growing, processing, and preparing fruit in a clear, understandable way.
- Nutrition Fun with Brocc and Roll by 24 Carrot Press. This is more of an activity book than a story book, but presented in such a fun way, I had to share. They claim it to be a “discovery approach to learning with a healthy dose of humor. Great for parents looking for a structured way to teach nutrition concepts to their kids. The main characters in this workbook are Brocc, Roll, and Hugh-Man Bean (who happens to be a kidney bean! LOL)
- Gregory the Terrible Eater– I’ve owned this book for as long as I’ve been teaching nutrition to children! (post here about teaching with it) I’ve read it in more pre-schools and elementary classes than I can count. Gregory has a horrible diet, eating garbage of course! Gregory is a goat that would not eat anything but fruits, vegetables, bread, and butter. This disappointed his parents because they wished he would eat tires, shoelaces, tin cans, and cardboard! The kids think it’s hilarious!
- Flint the Dragon Learns to Fly by Kendra Parks – this is a new book that teaches healthy eating through a dragon named Flint! Flint learns to fly being powered by a Green smoothie! It’s a fun story for kids who are reluctant to drink green smoothies.
- The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons- Similar to her book, The Fruits We Eat, this book describes, explains, and features Veggies. Gail explores vegetables from the parts of the plant to veggies we see on the table and all the varieties available today. Gail explains: Leaf . . . root . . . stem . . . These are three of the eight groups of vegetables. From how they are planted to how they get to stores, here is a wealth of information about them, including how to plant and tend your own vegetable garden.
- Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell. This book might be a little out of date (giving nutrition advice that has been changed since 2009), but the general ideas can still be appreciated. From the back cover of the book, we read, “In this book you’ll learn all about the nutrient groups—carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals, each nutrient’s function, which foods contain which nutrients, how much of each nutrient a kid needs each day, and how the body digests food. This book is good for ages 4-8 years.
Quick tips to make story time a success!
It’s important to remember that just reading to your kids is success itself! Don’t let technicalities or worrying about “doing it the right way”, get in the way of doing it at all. Kids love to hear stories from their peers, their siblings, their parents, their grandparents, and teachers.
- Point to the pictures as you identify and say what they are (point to an apple, when you say the word, Apple). This is great for stories that are mostly pictures, like Eating the Alphabet. Don’t just say “banana”, point to it as well!
- Don’t rush through it! I know it’s tempting to skip pages and rush through bedtime stories, but get to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than normal and enjoy the time together. Remember, they are only little once, and they won’t be as attentive to story time when they are teens!
- Repetition is key! You may get tired of the same books every night, but repetition helps kids learn.
- Use dramatics! Change your voice to reflect emotion and emphasize different points of the story.
- Let your kids repeat back to you. Mimicking is a powerful tool for learning.
- Discuss the story after you read it. Talk about what they learned, and what changes they can make to their diet to reflect the lessons they learned.
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I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie