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31 Days Challenge-Day 12- Use Books to Encourage Good Eating - Includes A Comprehensive List of Books that Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

12 January 2012

Teachers and parents alike recognize the power that books have to help teach important concepts.

What kids read (and hear) in books can influence their behavior for good, and for bad.

A few years ago, my oldest suddenly decided that she didn't want to eat the crust on her bread.  I paid little attention to it, at first.

I was however, a bit confused, by this new behavior. So, after several days, I asked her why she wasn't eating her crusts (where did this idea even come from after many years of eating crust without a thought??)  It turned out that the idea came from the book, Just for You, by Mercer Mayer. In the book, Little Monster says he wants to eat his crusts, "Just for You," but he just can't.

If we want our kids to be good eaters, we need to be aware of the kinds of messages that our kids are getting from all kinds of media- books included. I had read my daughter the book, but never noticed the little hidden message that perhaps eating crusts was something that a kid wouldn't want to do. I now try to be more aware.

One of my daughter's favorite books is Pinkalicious. It's a cute book about a girl who eats a bunch of pink cupcakes and turns pink. Her cure is to eat a bunch of "icky" green food. This could, potentially send the wrong message. When I read it to my daughter, we talk about why she would call the green food "icky," after all, there are, "so many good green foods." We have come to conclusion that Pinkalicious just dislikes anything that's not pink!

Today's Challenge is to choose a book (or books) to read to your kids that will encourage healthy eating habits. Use the book as a springboard for discussion and to plan a healthy snack. In the Kitchen with Audrey has a great post about doing just this with the book, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.

*This may be a difficult challenge to complete today, but I encourage you to begin to plan- find a book you have a home, buy a new book, or head out to the library. If your children are older, check out one of the books from the last section, or encourage your child to use one of the books to teach a younger sibling, cousin or friend.

If you would like to do something today and don't have any supplies on hand, you could write your own book for your child to illustrate or download the book: How Only Balony Got Cured of Spoiled-Taste- Buds-Atitus which you can then print and your child can illustrate.

To help you with this task, I have compiled a list of books, separated by age, that encourage good eating. For a printable list, click here. I encourage you to share this list, but please share a link to this page- rather than to the file itself. Thanks!

List of Books That Encourage Good Eating Habits

Babies and Toddlers:

I Can Eat a Rainbow, by Annabell Karmel- A board book which introduces babies to various colorful fruits and vegetables.

Eating the Rainbow, by Rena D. Grossman- A board book showing babies and toddlers eating a variety of fruits.

Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle- A very well known children's book. The caterpillar has to learn what he needs to eat to help him feel good.


The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, by Stan and Jan Berenstain- One of my favorites. This book engages kids with identifiable characters who learn why eating junk food isn't good for them, and learn to love healthy snacks.

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban- In this book, Frances learns that variety is a good thing!

I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato (Charlie & Lola S.), by P.J. Rooks- Lola says she will never eat a tomato until her brother Charlie plays a trick on her. *One reviewer said this had the opposite effect and her children started saying they would never eat tomatoes, so keep your own children's personalities in mind when choosing!

Healthy Snacks with Blue, by J-P Chanda- Blue From Blue's Clues, teaches kids about healthy snacks.

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss- Classic Book helps children to recognize that it trying new foods is a worthwhile behavior.

Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert- Goes through all the steps of growing, harvesting, and then preparing the vegetables to make soup.

Lunch, Denise Fleming- A very hungry mouse muches his way through a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition, Lizzy Rockwell- An introduction to nutrition for the preschool set.

You Are Healthy, Todd Snow- Colorful illustrations show kids practicing healthy habits.

Preschool and Early Elementary:

Eating the Alphabet, by Lois Ehlert- Alphabet book highlighting fruits and vegetables from A-Z

Gobble and Gulp, by Stephen Cosgrove- The Whimsies are put under the spell of an evil witch who forces them to eat only foods that are bad for them.

Grandpa's Garden Lunch, by Judith Casely (no longer in print) A girl and her grandfather work in the garden and make lunch using what they harvest.

Oliver's Fruit Salad, by Vivian French- Oliver won't eat fruit until his grandfather helps him make an enticing fruit salad.

Oliver's Vegetables, by Vivian French- Oliver only wants to eat french fries. His grandfather tells him that first he must find the potatoes in the garden and he needs to eat anything that he finds along the way.

Gregory, the Terrible Eater, by Michel Sharmat- A Funny twist on healthy eating. Gregory the goat eats only fruits, vegetables, eggs and fish. His parents are concerned because he isn't eating "goat food."

Mrs. Pig's Bulk Buy, by Mary Rayner- (Out of print and very expensive to buy used- perhaps you can find it at the library?) Mrs. Pig teaches her ketchup loving piglets a lesson about eating too much of any one thing!

What Food Is This, by Rosemari Hausher- A book of riddles about food that helps to teach kids about food and nutrition. Also out of print, but it appears that used editions are available.

The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day, by Loreen Leedy- A Reading Rainbow book. Takes place at an a restaurant where the waiter helps a variety of animals choose a meal that includes all of the food groups.

Eat Healthy, Feel Great, by William Sears, Martha Sears, and Christie Watts Kelly- Gives kids the information and tools they need to make good choices about what they eat.

Older Elementary Students:

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, by Joanna Cole- "The Frizz" takes her students on a field trip inside the human body. Helps kids to learn how the body works and how healthy eating habits help it to run smoothly.

Science Experiments You Can Eat, by Vicky Cobb- Not all of the experiments involve healthy foods, but parents could pick and choose experiments that help students learn about chemistry and food at the same time.

The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active & Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids!, by Edward Miller- A fun and engaging way to help teach older kids about healthy habits.

Happy Feet, Healthy Food: Your Child's First Journal of Exercise and Healthy Eating, Carol Goodrow- Great journal that provides kids with guidance, activities, and accountability for practicing healthy habits.

The Treasure of Health and Happiness, Carol Goodrow- An 8 year old girl finds a map which leads her to a mystical land where she enjoys healthy habits that lead to happiness.

Shibley Smiles
Disclosure: All Amazon Links are my affiliate links, if a purchase is made through one of these links, I receive an advertising fee. 


  1. What a great list! I'm going to pin it! Thanks!

  2. Great list! I am going to pin it! My kiddo loves Science experiments with foods. I will have to check out the Vicky Cobb book.

    1. Keitha, I thought of you when I was making it... there are so many that seem like they would lead to great themed lunches!

  3. I LOVE this post! You are right when books refer to good veggies as icky or that the child doesn't want to eat them I think it does register with our kids! THANKS for the wonderful list of books - I will be checking them out & I shared it with my Facebook readers here: - Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
    Beth =-)

    1. Thanks Beth! I really hope that your readers will find it to be useful!

  4. I would never read a book that refers to veggies as icky. Rah Rah Radishes is our new favorite kids book - fantastic vegetable pics!!! We started a series on our blog about kids cooking with books

    1. My daughter loves vegetables and has never seen them as something "icky" or something to be avoided, so I don't mind reading the book to her- however, I do think it's important to be aware of the messages that are in books, TV shows (don't even get me started on commercials!) Since we can't completely shelter them from what they'll hear and see, I just do my best to counteract those messages... We talk about how we're glad that we're not picky eaters because we'd be missing out on so many great foods! I checked out your series and I love it- thanks so much for stopping by! I'll have to look for Rah, Rah, Radishes- I hadn't heard of that one.


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