Talking with Children about Nutrition | A book list

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Developed by the Houston Health Department | Division of Chronic Disease Prevention, Health Education and Wellness

It’s National Nutrition Month and the perfect opportunity to talk with the youngest among us about food, nutrition, gardening and answer all sorts of odd questions and random curiosities about the food system. Inspired by our last collaborative event with My Brother’s Keeper – Read Aloud Campaign, the Houston Health Department curated a list of children’s books by age category on the topic of food and nutrition. Check it out! Click on the image to see availability at the Houston Public Library.

Growing Vegetable Soup 
Lois Ehlert (1987)

This colorful story follows a father and son as they grow their vegetable garden. This book teaches young readers all about vegetable gardening, gardening tools and vegetable soup recipes.

Age: 2 – 5
Language: English

What’s So Yummy? All About Eating Well and Feeling Good 
Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott (2014)

Gus, Nellie, and baby Jake visit their community garden before shopping at the farmer’s market and grocery store to gather healthy ingredients to prepare for a picnic. This story explains to young children how healthy foods fuel the body and how being active can make them feel their best for a day full of fun.

Age: 2 – 5
Language: English

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! 
Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas (2002)

Mr. McGreely finally plants his dream garden after years of thinking about it, but some persistent bunnies keep eating his vegetables as soon as the sun goes down. This humor-filled tale take readers on an imaginative adventure with Mr. McGreely as he comes up with wacky ways to keep the bunnies out of his garden.

Age: 2 – 5
Language: English

Up, Down and Around
Katherine Ayres and Nadine Bernard Westcott (2008)

This book takes young readers on a journey to a vibrant community garden where all types of fruits and vegetables are growing. The story teaches readers how food grows and highlights the importance of choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over processed foods.

Age: 2 -5
Language: English

Tractor Mac Farmers’ Market
Billy Steers (2015)

Pete and Paul the pigs love to eat junk food and sweets. But their friend Tractor Mac knows there’s a better to eat that can be easy and fun. This heartwarming story takes readers on Tractor Mac’s trip to the local farmer’s market to pick out a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. This book is the latest from the Tractor Mac series and introduces children to healthy food habits, recipes, farm life and the role of the local farmers in agriculture.

Age: 2 – 5
Language: English

Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden
Neville Astley and Mark Baker (2014)

This story follows Peppa and her little brother George in their Grandpa Pig’s garden. They learn all about seeds, soil and planting and gather ingredients to make a healthy salad.

Age: 2 – 5
Language: English

Healthy Foods from A to Z; Comida Sana de la A a la Z
Stephanie Maze (2012)

This bilingual picture book in English and Spanish features a variety of nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains presented in alphabetical order with healthy food faces depicting a variety of emotions for children. The faces are surrounded by colorful food icons with vocabulary in both languages.

Age:  3 – 6
Language: English and Spanish

Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip
Denia Hester and Jackie Urbanovic

This book retells Aleksey Tolstoy’s classic Russian tale about a farmer and his stubborn turnip. This story follows Grandma Lena and her family as they try to harvest the stubborn turnip for a soul-food feast. This story highlights themes of community, cooperation, healthy eating habits, and soul food traditions.

Age: 4- 7
Language: English

Little Pea
Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace (2005)

Little Pea hates eating candy for dinner, but his parents will not let him have his spinach until he cleans his plate. This playful story has underlying themes of healthy food habits and dinner time struggles with picky eaters.

Age: 4 – 7
Language: English

Jack and the Hungry Giant Eat right with MyPlate
Loreen Leedy (2013)

Jack meets the Giant at the top of the beanstalk but in a twist of this classic tale, the Giant is interested in talking about nutrition using the MyPlate food model. The Giant and his wife make a deliciously healthy meal and teach Jack all about the food groups and meal portions.

Age: 4 -8
Language: English

I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato
Lauren Child (2000)

Lola is very picky eater. There are so many things she will not eat including carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms and especially tomatoes. Can her big brother convince her to change her mind?  This award winning book highlights topics about fussy eaters, healthy eating habits and sibling support.

Age: 4 – 8
Language: English

“I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato” was awarded the British literary award, Kate Greenaway Medal in 2000.

To Market, To Market
Nikki McClure (2011)

This book follows a mother and son on their weekly shopping trip to the farmer’s market as they check items off their shopping list. This story teaches readers how fruits and vegetables were grown from seed to market. It highlights themes of community, eco-friendly living, healthy eating habits and local agriculture.

Age: 4 -8
Language: English

A Day Without Sugar; Una Día Sin Azúcar
Diane De Anda and Janet Montecalvo (2012)

Ten-year-old Tito is at risk of developing diabetes like his abuela and his tio Pedro. So, Tia Sofia hosts a weekend sleepover where she announces to her nieces and nephews the weekend would be sugar-free. Tia Sofia spends a day teaching Tito and his cousins about healthy, low-sugar or sugar-free treats. This story discusses topics about hidden and added sugars in foods and the importance of family support when adjusting diets.

Age: 7 -10
Language: English and Spanish

Ms. Leakey is Freaky!
Dan Gutman and Jim Paillot (2011)

A.J. and his friends go to Ella Mentry School which hired a health teacher who has a peculiar approach to getting kids to eat healthy and exercise. The weirdness never stops. This is the 12th book in the My Weird School Daze series and has underlying themes of food, exercise and school health with a humorous twist.

Age: 7- 10
Language: English


Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes (1999)

Wesley is on his summer break from school and decides to plant his own garden and start his own civilization. This story follows the endearing misfit Wesley as he turns his yard into a garden and gains the curiosity of his classmates. It highlights themes of food sustainability, healthy eating habits, nutrition and socialization.

Age: 8 -11

Language: English

* Westlandia was nominated for the Texas Bluebonnet Award in 2000- 2001.

Do you want to learn more about nutrition and gardening, come grow with us at one of our 12 Community Gardens. Be sure to visit your local Houston Public Library branch and online services to explore more titles and authors.

Enjoy and happy reading!

Guilmate Pierre, MPH, CHES – HHD Staff

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