Top 6 Books to Turn Kids into Brave Eaters

For two years now we have been partnering with C&S Wholesale Grocers and First Book to provide our AmeriCorps service members with money to purchase books to stock their schools’ teaching libraries.

Year after year, these six books come in with rave reviews from corps members and students alike!  We’ve included some of their testimonies below to help you see how these books can inspire students to be brave tasters (and confident cooks and growers):

1. Tops and Bottoms

Tops & Bottoms celebrates the trickster tradition of using one’s wits to overcome hardship, while also teaching valuable lessons about plant bottoms and plant tops. Service members recommend pairing a reading of the book with a lesson showing the children plants that are tops (think: greens) and bottoms (think: root vegetables).

Stone soup simmers on a hot plate alongside cooking materials2. Stone Soup

This classic picture book from 1947 is about a group of hungry strangers who trick a village into making soup for them. Our service members have been able to draw on the book to celebrate students’ own school garden harvests. At Columbia Falls Junior High in Montana, the whole school community got involved. FoodCorps service member testimonial:

I had 6 classes spend the semester building up to a Stone Soup celebration — they read the folktale, planted seeds, harvested veggies, chopped veggies with their bear claws and made their own ‘Stone Soup’ at the end.”

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A picture book about a caterpillar who eats its way through a wide variety of foodstuffs before pupating and becoming as a butterfly. FoodCorps service member testimonial:

There is a special magical force about this book that every child and adult loves. Perhaps it the beauty in learning about how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, or the silliness of a caterpillar eating through so much human food. To teach this lesson I asked the students if they could help the caterpillar eat through all the fruits I brought in. Every time we saw the caterpillar eating through a fruit, the students’ hands shot up in the air ready to help him. We went through each fruit: apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges. I was very proud of the students who were not just sucking the juice from the oranges but actually eating the whole thing pulp and all!”

4. I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato

This book tracks a very picky eater who succumbs to the very kind of healthy food marketing our corps members employ (i,e,: make it fun!). FoodCorps service member testimonial:

“In the book the little girl Lola calls foods by different names to make them more appealing to eat. She changes tomatoes to ‘moonsquirters’ which make the students giggle every time you say it. I offer some moonsquirters for them to try and it’s a hit! One boy Jacob was trying a tomato for the first time and exclaimed ‘I didn’t know I liked tomatoes but now I’m going to tell my mom to buy some!’”

Student pinches carrot seeds with one hand while holding them in palm of other hand, above school garden bed5. The Carrot Seed

A classic picture book—starring Harold from “Harold and the Purple Crayon”— from 1945 that follows a boy’s deep devotion to and care for his carrot seed. FoodCorps service member testimonial:

We read the book and checked on our own carrot seeds. Then we tasted raw carrots and cooked carrots with cinnamon, which almost everyone loved.”

6. Seedfolks

A short novel in which each character describes the transformation of an empty lot into a vibrant community garden. FoodCorps service member testimonial:

I wanted to bring a diverse group of students together over something we all share, the need to eat real food. ‘SeedFolks’ by Paul Fleischman provided our garden club with the chance to see ourselves reflected. We started out reading our book about a group of people who were all so different and we ended up with our knees in the dirt planting our first seeds of the year, together.”