One of the best ways that you can help your children learn about food and nutrition is through books.
And I love this way of teaching children because it’s a pressure-free way where children can hear important messages about healthy eating without there being any expectation for them to try new food or eat certain things.
How books about food for kids encourage learning
Children’s brains are wired to learn through storytelling and because stories are fun and engaging, it’s a great way to hold their attention for longer while you dive into an important topic.
Picture books help bring stories to life and board books complement simple stories if you have a young toddler who wants to get stuck in with the page turning too.
Well written children’s books about food tap into their thinking in a way that appeals to their exact developmental stage so that they can begin to understand complex ideas and start to process this information.
This allows them to think through the way they have made their decisions about what they choose to eat or not eat.
What happens if we try to teach young children without books?
When we as parents talk to our children about healthy eating, it’s seen as rules.
Children tend to interpret rules as good or bad and when they apply this to food eating ‘bad foods’ can lead them to having negative thoughts and feelings like guilt or shame.
And at the same time if they think these bad foods are forbidden or should be limited, it can make them even more desirable, this is often why children constantly ask for sweet snacks.
Of course as parents this is never our intention, but it is the way it comes across to a child, because their brains are still developing and so this is what they hear.
Books therefore, like play activities, are a positive way for them to learn.
Can books featuring fussy eaters help my child try new foods?
Yes they certainly can.
Many of my favourite books have characters who don’t like certain foods. Some book characters are even the unfavourable food themselves!
These interactive characters explain their thoughts and feelings throughout the story as well as them beginning to think differently about such foods.
They may even overcome their fussy eating in the story.
All in all books are a really positive way to tap into the way children think about foods they don’t want to eat and allow them the opportunity to process this information in a way that equips them with strategies to manage their feelings about food.
Essentially it calms them, gives them coping strategies and ideas on what they might do when faced with new foods, which can actually be a potentially stressful experience for a young child.
The most important thing is that books encourage this type of thinking in a pressure free environment, when you read a book there is no actual food on on the table.
But the thought has been planted in their minds and they will go on to think about food in the same way that the character in the story did.
Over time that food will become less scary or unappealing which means that children are more likely to try them.
How to choose good children’s books about nutrition
This is not as easy as it sounds and so to help you I’ve provided a list of my top 11 book recommendations at the bottom of this blog. Please note that the links provided are Amazon affiliate links.
What you’re looking for in a book is a main character that your child can relate to. Books should also be entertaining and if they can be funny too, that’s a bonus.
My friend and colleague Amy Wright, who is a school teacher and comedian, created an awesome masterclass for us on children’s books and activities called ‘Helping You Develop A Happy Healthy Eater Through Creativity, Stories And Fun’. You can access this now if you are a member of my Happy Healthy Eaters Club.
As well as there being a relatable character, humour and an entertaining story, we want to make sure that the book deals with the issue in hand so for example if it is about overcoming fussy eating we want to make sure that that’s what exactly happens or if its about eating more vegetables, that’s covered too.
And finally we want to make sure that there is an opportunity for further discussions that you can have with your child after the story has ended. This is important to encourage their thinking, so have a list of questions you can ask your little one after the story has ended.
My Top 10 Recommendation On Kids Books About Food
So onto our recommended reading list: