book review of healthy children’s books

IMG_5497We have 5 library card users in our house. I’m constantly on the lookout for books that teach children about healthy eating, exercise and where our food comes from. Here is a list (by no means exhaustive, so if you have any to add please go right ahead) of some recent reads in our house.

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal- A very cute book. But I didn’t like that the pea had to eat 5 candies (veggies are the dessert in this book) before he was allowed dessert. It would have been nice if he chose to eat them on his own. Forcing kids to eat to get dessert isn’t the best plan.

Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert- A colorful book that teaches colors and the names of flowers and what happens when we plans the bulbs.

The Monster Health Book by Edward Miller- Some good advice, but the whole grain section was quite dismal. A big focus on cereals, and not enough about other grains. Also, not enough about leafy greens. Teaching about counting calories was a surprise, I think generally it’s not a good practise for children to do this, but the information about minerals, fibre and vitamins was useful. I was surprised that it talked about eating disorders but for older children this may be a good idea to increase awareness.

Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right by Joanna Dolgoff- Written by an MD with an interesting plan for teaching about how to eat healthier and how to control portions. Some of the recipes I wouldn’t categorize as healthy, but lots of great tips and some good recipes.

The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky- This book is fascinating. Best for kids over 6. It really explores salt’s history, uses and benefits. I would have liked to see a little section about how most of us are overdoing it with salt…

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons- An excellent read. This book teaches kids (and adults) details about plants and how they grow. There is a project at the end for sprouting your own beans. We tried it but ours got mouldy. Probably not the book’s fault. I liked the details of the flower parts- I didn’t even know all of the names, or at least I had forgotten.

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert- Some creative ideas for different fruits or vegetables for each letter of the alphabet.

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth- This book has a unique set-up, with illustrated round pages. The idea was excellent, but I felt disappointed that kids had a juice box and cookie in their lunch box. I love how the author traced back to the very beginning. At the end there is information about food groups and what they’re needed for.

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle- A timeless theme of bigger is not always better. A tiny seed turns out to grow into an enormous flower, after a whole adventure of travelling.

The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons- Like her other book, also enjoyable and educational. This book explores many types of vegetables and explains why they are good for us.

Dinosaurs Alive and Well: A Guide to Good Health by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown- I wasn’t a fan of this book. It very often warned kids not to eat too much or not to eat certain foods because it will make them fat (as opposed to unhealthy), but I did like the first aid page and the importance of sleep page. There is a cute picture of what we look like when we don’t get enough sleep.

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens- A folk tale-style book with beautiful illustrations that teaches a lesson on laziness and as an aside compares different types of vegetables and how they grow (those that grow above ground, below ground and in between).

Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre- The cheers are catchy and I was impressed with the numerous types of peppers she included. The photos seem outdated, but otherwise it was great.

A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards- Beautifully illustrated and creative. Explains what happens to seeds and talks about different fruits and vegetables. At the end there is a question and answer page with questions about seeds, like why don’t seeds grow in your tummy or what’s the smallest seed in the world.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert – Colorful and fun, this book goes through all the steps to making your own soup, literally from beginning to end.

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole- Goes into a lot of detail about what happens in the earth and explains many different plants, bugs and birds and names them all. The illustrations were lovely. I like the repetition of building from one page to the next, each page adding more to what goes on in Jack’s garden.

Mealtime by Elizabeth Verdick- A simple book, but perfect for younger children. I liked how the author says that you have to just try a bite, you never know, you might like it.

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals- Inventive rhymes teach kids and adults all about composting. I learnt a few things about composting myself. This book was enjoyed by the whole family.

The Edible Pyramid by Loreen Leedy.- I was not too impressed. For grains there was no mention of quinoa (a staple in our house), but it did include pretzels (!) I also didn’t like the “example” meals they used- pizza? But the different animal characters were fun and serving sizes were explained well.

I Eat a Rainbow by Bobbie Kalman- It was slightly boring and there was not much variety of fruits and veggies, but otherwise not bad.

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro- Pretty illustrations and details about the process of an apple’s growth. Looks at a few different types of apples and gives very detailed explanations of fruits and flowers and pollination.

Exercise (Looking After Me) by Liz Gogerly- I love how the author used grandma as the healthy example. An ingenious idea! Grandma is super fit and tells the story of how she didn’t have a TV and that she walked to school. One part that I wasn’t fond of is when she says that the kids discover that exercise doesn’t have to feel like exercise. I think that kids should learn to like the feeling of exercise and enjoy it.

The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness by Lizzy Rockwell- I loved this book. It has scientific facts as well as cute illustrations and great examples of why it’s good to keep fit. My favorite is the last page, how she asks what is your favorite way to be busy and there are pictures galore of kids doing all kinds of “busy” things, so you and your child can look and choose together.

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Polan- OK, not a kid’s book at all. But I had to throw it in hear because it was so amazing and informative. The author thoroughly discusses the meaning of organic vs. conventional food, eating locally and vegetarianism. He is also quite amusing (calling us all “corn people”, since almost everything supposedly comes from corn) and I love that he planned a whole meal around foods that he found or grew on his own, like hunting for wild Californian pig or looking for mushrooms and abalone (large mollusks).