We live in a society where so many kids have no idea where their food comes from. Where the thought that fruits and vegetables have seasons that we are supposed to eat them in is foreign. That there are industries at play that manipulate our taste buds and all of our senses to get us to crave certain foods. I was lucky to grow up in California and see the farming community all around me, though it has changed dramatically since I was a child (and not in good ways). Now I live in North Carolina in a semi-rural community where people that we know own farms and we look forward to late April to start picking our own strawberries. But I still want my kids to understand where our food really comes from, so I’m thrilled to see a wealth of books coming out that really work to show that to kids.
One of my kids’ favorite books at the moment is Eat Up! An Infographic Exploration of Food, by Antonia Banyard and Paula Ayer. This innovative book aims to show kids where food comes from, what kinds are healthier for you than others, and how food impacts our world – the people and the environment. It also gives a great history lesson on how our food habits have changed and why. The colorful pictures and fascinating facts really grab young readers’ attention. My kids like to quiz me on various things and tell me different facts while they are reading it. Books where we can get kids thinking about the larger world and our behaviors are definitely a win!
Another relatively new book is 100 Things to Know About Food by Usborne Book. I love this one! Filled with eye-catching graphics and written in a style to grab a reader’s attention and draw them in, this book is full of interesting and sometimes crazy facts. From the very first page where it explains that only babies can survive on milk alone, you get more than just info on milk. The writers behind this book break down the information into additional facts, like the different types of nutrients babies get from milk and that we all need. They also utilize interesting graphics, like words going through a person’s intestines, to visually get a point across. A great option to bring in facts.
Award-winning author Grace Lin joins science writer Ranida T. McKneally to get kids talking about the science of food, the five food groups, and what a healthy meal looks like in Our Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and Food. Each spread features a haiku, a bright and fun picture, and a serving of facts about various foods. From why are fruits sweet to why should we eat so many vegetables, this book is FULL of great information. I love that kids can learn about important facts and that it uses terms parents will often use, like that fact that food is fuel for our bodies, but making smart choices about what foods we eat makes a difference too. This is a great addition to a collection!
For children who don’t get to see how a farm really works, they can get a better sense of that from On the Farm, by Susie Behar & Essie Kimpimäki. This book is part of a series where children use a flash light to “shine-a-light” on the facts they are learning. Each page has a hidden fact for children to figure out by shining a flashlight through the page from behind. This book starts by showing how farms work during the winter months to keep animals fed and warm, moves into the spring birthing period, then skips forward to summer when much of the harvesting is done, and finally to fall with other foods still being produced. At the end of the book is a spread that gives additional information about things around the farm. Kids adore being able to interact with the shine-a-light books and this is a real gem.
One of the biggest problems facing children today is that they have no real concept of where their food comes from. For the youngest crowd, PB&J Hooray! Your Sandwich’s Amazing Journey from Farm to Table by Janet Nolan, shows young minds that the foods we eat don’t just come from the supermarket. Sure, that’s where we often purchase things, but even our beloved PB&J ingredients had to come from somewhere else first. This really fun book takes the journey, backwards, one step at a time.
For the young mind who likes questions and enjoys interacting with books there is the Usborne Lift-the-Flap Questions & Answers about Food. This engaging book asks the big questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how (plus a few others) about the foods that we eat. Why are carrots orange? What makes food go bad? How do you make bread? The questions and answers are simple, but get inquisitive minds thinking.
In Chris Butterworth’s How Did That Get in my Lunchbox? children are taken on a fun journey of how the foods in a well-balanced lunchbox get there. While mom and dad probably bought most of the ingredients at the market, food doesn’t grow in stores, so its a good idea to know where it really came from. From the process of making bread and cheese to growing fruits and vegetables, this books makes the process fun. The book ends with an explanation of the different food groups and a statement that most of your plate should come from fruits and vegetables. A big hit with kids!
Another fun book that shows how foods make it from the farm to our tables is Chef Foody’s Field Trip, by Agostino Traini, originally published in Italian but now available in English. In this beautifully illustrated book, children are shown how a wide variety of fields are grown, harvested, and turned into the foods that we know and love. In addition to showing the full farming method, this ingenious book also explains how foods are processed into things like flour, pasta, jams, yogurt and many other items. There are also sections on how we get meat and seafood and how they are processed into individual cuts. A colorful way to learn about where our food actually comes from.
Finally, Usborne’s It All Starts with a Seed…How Food Grows, is a great introduction into where fruits, vegetables, and grains come from. From how seeds grow to why we need bees and how the wind aids in pollination, this book is chock full of information. Like Chef Foody, this book also looks at individual foods and gives great illustrations on how they grow, though has less of a cartoonish feel.
Perhaps if we encourage our children to better understand where their food comes from they will make some wiser choices about what foods to put into their bodies.
*Note – I am an Independent Usborne Books & More Consultant. Some of the links above go to my website and should you purchase books, I do make a commission. All opinions are my own.
It is Wednesday, so this means that this post is part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by KidLitFrenzy. For more great nonfiction picture books, head over to KidLitFrenzy!