We’re continuing our healthy eating and reading series with this month focusing on fruits. Because fruits are juicy and sweet, fruits are often a favorite food among young children. Fruits are good for children because they contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are good for growing bodies.
Most 2-3 year olds should eat 1 cup of fruit each day and most 4-8 year olds should eat 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruit each day. Fruits can be fresh, frozen, dried, canned or juice. Because juice is a concentrated source of calories and does not contain fiber, children should limit juice to 4-6 ounces (½ to ¾ cup). Visit Choose MyPlate for more information on the fruit food group.
There are many children’s books about apples; let’s look at some books on other fruits:
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Brown is about a girl from Kenya, Handa, who puts seven delicious fruits in a basket, balances it on her head, and starts out for her friend’s village. She plans to surprise her friend and wonders which fruit she will like best. But along the way, without Handa knowing it, animals quietly take the fruit piece by piece from her basket. This book introduces children to less common fruits such as guava, passion fruit, mango and avocado. Enhance this story by having children make a fruit salad using the fruits from the book. Look for more lesson plan ideas for this book from the Kansas Extension Book in a Bag series.
Fruit Flies’ Picnic by Kathleen Stefancin is about five sweet (and cute) fruit flies who are having a picnic. Each fly brings a fruit of a different color to the picnic and tells why that color fruit is important for the body. The flies then list other fruits of each color. This book is a great way to combine learning colors with fruit. For older children, the focus can be placed on the benefits of eating fruits of different colors. You can download coloring sheets from the book’s website.
Because fruits are so colorful, there are a lot of non-fiction children’s books on fruit. Check your local library to see what books are available. Reading books with real photos of fruits provides the opportunity to talk to children about the color and shapes of fruit, where fruit is grown and what fruits the children like to eat.
Happy reading and happy fruit eating!
Mary Schroeder works for the University of Minnesota Extension which helps
to connect community needs with University of Minnesota resources. Specifically
the Health and Nutrition programs and resources focus on disease & obesity
prevention, healthy school environments, and continuing education for community
professionals. You can link to the Extension Health and Nutrition website at: