In February, we started our new series Healthy Eating and Reading. We’ve already discussed using books to enhance learning about nutrition and focused on dairy. This month’s topic is vegetables! Vegetables are good for children and adults. Explain to children that eating vegetables is good for their eyes, heart, and helps to heal cuts in their skin.
Most 2-3 year olds should eat 1 cup of vegetables each day and most 4-8 year olds should 1 ½ cups of vegetables each day. Children should eat a different colored vegetables during the week such as dark green, orange, red, yellow and beans and legumes. Visit Choose MyPlate for more information on the vegetable food group.
There are many children’s books on vegetables. Since it is warm out (finally!) and gardening is also on people’s mind, here are three vegetable books with a gardening focus:
From the Garden: A Counting Book About Growing Food by Michael Dahl is about a mother who picks one tomato from the garden, then two carrots and three peppers until she has picked enough vegetables to make 12 salads. Print out photos of the different vegetables to use as you tell the story and talk about the different types of vegetables and the colors. Have children cut out pictures of vegetables from grocery ads or photos you print out. Children can then glue the vegetables on a small paper plate to make their own vegetable salad.
Another good vegetable gardening book is Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (available in English and Spanish). This book has wonderful illustrations of planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables that are used to make vegetable soup. After reading the book, have children help make vegetable soup. You can make a simple vegetable soup by adding fresh or frozen vegetables to canned chicken broth.
Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French is a good book to encourage children to try new vegetables. Oliver only likes French fries until he tries the different vegetables grown in his grandfather’s garden. As a follow-up activity, have children taste small samples of the vegetables Oliver tried in the book.
For more vegetable or garden themed children’s books, checkout the Michigan Team Nutrition Booklist.
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: