Besides modeling a healthy diet and lifestyle yourself, one of the best ways to teach children about healthy eating is through reading together. Here are just a few of our favorite children’s books to encourage your kids to enjoy eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
1. The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach by Hillary Feerick & Jeff Hillenbrand, in collaboration with Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Illustrated by Andrea Vitali
Mitch Spinach is the nicest, smartest, strongest kid in class, thanks to his super-healthy diet. During lunch period, while his classmates are eating the usual sandwiches and chicken nuggets, Mitch Spinach mixes up green smoothies in his battery-powered blender.
Mitch also has a secret: his nutrient-dense diet, packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, give him special powers, such as super-sonic hearing and amazing night vision to help solve mysteries at Sunchoke Elementary. Mitch is a superhero!
Mitch Spinach is featured in a series of books, including The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach, Mitch Spinach and the Smell of Victory and Mitch Spinach and the Treehouse Intruder. My son, William loves the entire Mitch Spinach series.
2. My Mom Eats Tofu, Written by Robyn Ringgold, Illustrated by Vidya Vasudenvan
Sometimes, vegan kids or families transitioning to a more plant-based diet and lifestyle may struggle with feeling different from their friends. This book can help them feel normal. It can show them that there are other vegan families like theirs. A little girl describes the food her mom cooks such as, “There are some foods that I just don’t care for, but when we have sizzling lentil burgers I always ask for more! Some of my other favorites are seitan, falafel, carrrot tuna and raw kale. Raw foods are alive and fresh. They are never stale!” When William and I read this book, he says, “She’s like you, Mommy!” 🙂
3. In the Garden with Dr. Carver by Susan Grigsby, Pictures by Nicole Tadgell
This book is a real treasure. Not only is an enjoyable read for kids and adults, it’s also educational, as it’s historical fiction, based on the life of Dr. George Washington Carver. An African-American, Dr. Carver was born into slavery, yet worked his way through school and eventually became the head of the Department of Agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Dr. Carver wanted to help improve the lives of farmers in the south. Though he wrote many bulletins on plant care and how to farm, he knew that many people would learn best by being shown how to care for the land, soil and plants. So on the weekends, he went out in an old wagon pulled by a mule and created a movable school for both children and adults.
This book tells the tale of how he visited local communities, taught children how to plant seeds, make compost, make “chicken” from peanuts and more. Dr. Carver is famous for many things, including the invention of peanut butter!
William and I have read this book many times. I recommend it for reading in school as well as at home.
4. Avocado Baby by John Burningham
This children’s book from British author John Burningham is very silly and very hilarious. William and I have read it countless time and every time, we crack up! It tells the tale of a family named the Hargraves. The Hargraves are not very strong. They are expecting a new baby and fear that the new baby will be as weak as they are. Their fears are realized when the baby is not only weak, but also doesn’t seem to want to eat much. Mrs. Hargraves is upset, when the other children suggest that she feed the baby an avocado found in the fruit bowl. She does and from then on, the baby becomes extraordinarily strong!
If your child didn’t like avocados before reading this book, my guess is that they will want to give them a try after reading Avocado Baby.
5. Making Minestrone by Stella Blackstone & Nan Brooks
This is a fun rhyming book with cute, colorful illustrations. On the first two pages we read, “What do you do when you’re feeling lonely? You ask all your friends around to make a minestrone!” The adorable illustrations by Nan Brooks remind me of those by Tomie dePaola.
Making soup with your child is a fun way to learn to love vegetables. Soup is easy, healthy and very forgiving. Unlike baking, the ingredients in soup are a bit more flexible and don’t have to be perfect.
I hope you have found this brief list helpful. If so, please comment and share! Do you have any children’s books about healthy plant-based eating to recommend?