Picture Books to Entice Picky Eaters

As winter slides into spring, I start to crave fresh fruits and vegetables. However, some members of the household can be more reluctant when it comes to this bounty.

Beautiful glossy photographs and simple rhyming text feature fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Walking through the farmer’s market April Pulley Sayre in Go, Go, Grapes celebrates the familiar cherries and the unfamiliar rambutan. Even the pickiest of eaters will “Reach for peach. Fuzz is fine.” Rah, Rah, Radishes is an exuberant paean to the greens. Broccoli, bok choy, cucumbers, and fennel never looked so good!

Both of these books contain back matter for parents on the importance of whole fruits and vegetables in the diet and how to make them more appealing to a child. Sayre notes that “No vegetables were harmed or mistreated in the making of this book. Most, however, were later eaten.”

Take your child to the grocery store. Let them see the beauty of the produce department and encourage them to try ‘just a little bit’ of something new. Try different strategies with your reluctant eater. Just like reluctant readers they sometimes just need the right book (or fruit).

In Ciara Gavin’s third Bear book, she tackles the problem of the favorite food. Bear is a member of a duck family (read Room for Bear for a great story about blended families). When Bear discovers jam, he forgets to how to share, and won’t eat anything but jam. Mama is worried about Bear, and warns “no more jam until Bear eats vegetables.” There is the classic struggle. Refuses breakfast, refuses dinner. Bear’s siblings come to the rescue with classic food games (stick the peas to your nose and lick them off and corn as buried gold under the mashed potatoes). “Now Bear eats vegetables every night.”

Siblings can be great allies in the food wars. Just the idea that my brothers would eat it if I wouldn’t was enough to clear the plate.

Appreciation. Gratitude. “As we sit round this table, let’s give thanks as we are able, to all the folks we’ll never meet, who helped provide this food we eat.”

Another simple, perfect read aloud book about all that is has to happen before the meal that is in front of us can be enjoyed. Before We Eat: from Farm to Table, uses colorful woodcut prints to show the farmers, beekeepers, packagers, drivers, and finally grocery store workers who made this feast happen. Small children can still assist in small ways to prepare a meal. Being part of the process changes the child from a consumer to a creator. That creator may be much more willing to consume the fruits of his labor.

Try it, you’ll like it! And we have a book, DVD, e-resource that might help. See you at the library.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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