Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Power of Books: How to Get your Child to Eat Right

For parents who are blessed with adventurous eaters, getting your child to experiment with new foods and healthy eating is not an issue. But for the rest of us who gave birth to children who refuse to eat anything other than chips, cookies or in my case crispy fried chicken nuggets, introducing your picky-eater to healthy alternatives is a struggle dealt with on a daily basis. Fortunately, there is a way that you might just be able to change your child's outlook on food while making the experience fun and educational—we're talking about reading to your child.

There are tons of books (new and old) written to teach children of various ages about the importance of eating healthy and expanding their palate to grow big and strong. The ones listed below are more in the "classical" genre and are designed for younger children (ages preschool to 8 years old), but there are more options located at your local library—just get a librarian to recommend some to you. That said, to learn the top 5 healthy-eating inspirational children's books, continue reading below.

5. Grandpa's Garden Lunch , Judith Caseley

This simple yet beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Sarah and her day spent helping her grandparents plant a vegetable garden. After all of her hard work and effort, Sarah then explains the delicious lunch she and her grandparents have with the vegetables pulled and plucked from the garden. This would be an excellent opportunity to plant your own vegetable garden with your child or choose some simple in-door varieties and herbs to grow inside instead. Another great idea is taking your child to your local farmer's market and allowing them to choose some wholesome ingredients to use in that day's lunch or dinner. The more involved your child is the more likely he or she is willing to try new foods.

4. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food , Stan and Jan Berenstain

Mama Bear turns into fitness guru and personal nutritionist after she notices her family packs on the pounds due to excessive junk-food eating. This book is not only a great way to expose your child to better eating habits, but it also is a good way to introduce your child to the importance of nutrition ( i.e. why we need to eat healthy foods) by explaining the body and its different systems. There is also a televised, animated version of this book which can be found here.

3. Gregory, the Terrible Eater, Mitchell Sharmat

Gregory is no typical goat. Unlike his family, Gregory has a love for fruits, vegetables, fish and bread. Concerned about his strange and unfamiliar eating habits, Gregory's parents push him to eat shoes, tin cans and violins just like all the other goats. But after experiencing a severe tummy ache due to the typical goat food, Gregory's parents allow him to reside eating the fruits and veggies that he loves. This book is an excellent way to teach children about the importance of nutrition in a light-hearted and comical way. This book has a televised, animated version as well.

2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Judi Barrett

In this alternate-universe-esqe town called Chewandswallow (chew-and-swallow, clever huh?), instead of rain, sleet or snow, food falls from the sky. At first the free-falling meals such as spaghetti meatballs and mashed potatoes are welcomed, but as bigger items (typically the sweets such as pancakes) start to fall, the town is concerned about the destruction of their homes. Sony Pictures released a full-length animated motion picture based on the book in 2009.

1. Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books), Dr. Seuss

Lastly, in this book written by the legendary Dr. Suess, Sam-I-Am is determined to get a fellow nameless character to try green eggs and ham. After several refusals, the nameless character finally gives in. If your child doesn't get anything else from this all time favorite they will learn this: do not say you don't like a certain food until you've tried it first. To make the experience more interactive, whip up your own batch of green eggs and ham after reading the book with your child—just dab a few drops of green food coloring into scrambled eggs as they cook and violá.

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at onlinecollege.org about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, and movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5(at)gmail(dot)com.


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