Stories that encourage healthy eating
08 May, 2023
Reading books together is a great way to teach children about healthy eating. Introduce them to new foods at story time, before serving it on their plates, and you’re one step closer to having them try something new.
Experts agree children should be exposed to reading every day to help develop literacy and language skills. Make your book stack do double duty and add in a few stories that encourage healthy eating too. Here are six great books championing healthy food. Even better, they’re great stories that you’ll enjoy reading together. Check them out from your local library or ask your local bookshop to order them in for you.
Off to the Market
This book is a wonderful celebration of fresh, healthy food and the fun of going to the markets to buy it direct from the growers, bakers and beekeepers. Vibrant illustrations and the enthusiasm of the child narrator make fresh food so appealing. The narrator shares their favourite foods and tries new flavours, subtly encouraging young readers to also do the same. Bright illustrations of fruit and veggies are captioned with their names and interesting facts, like how they grow or how they’re best cooked.
Off to the Market is written and illustrated by Melbourne artist Alice Oehr, published by Scribble Kids Books.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This classic story of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly also includes a lesson on nutrition. The caterpillar is fine after chomping through five different fruits on five days but when he chows down a feast of processed foods in one sitting he ends up with a stomach ache!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is written and illustrated by Eric Carle, published by Puffin Books.
Koalas Eat Gum Leaves
This is a fun story about a koala who’s had enough of eating gum leaves. Every Single. Day. He decides to switch to ice cream and the illustrations showcase him eating a good range of ice creams from the corner store freezer. Children will love decoding the pictures, which show that while initially the ice cream gave the koala lots of energy, he didn’t feel too good after a while. The story is a great opener for conversations about food being fuel and the way too much sugar can make you feel. It has a great rhythm for reading aloud and a cheeky ending.
Koalas Eat Gum Leaves is by Sunshine Coast duo Laura Bunting (author) and Philip Bunting (illustrator), published by Scholastic.
This book has a rollicking rhythm that dares you to read it faster and faster, naming all the different types of pasta. The word pasta is printed in large letters, making it easy for not-yet-readers to spot and shout out. The illustrations show how tempting it is to play with dry pasta – to make a necklace, a face, cat’s whiskers or use it as a drinking straw. This book makes pasta so much fun, how could anyone resist eating it?
Pasta is written by Australian author Felice Arena, illustrated by Beatrice Cerocchi, published by Affirm Press.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas
Brian the piranha is trying to get his piranha buddies to broaden their palates. He’s endearingly enthusiastic about offering them a banana and a range of other brightly coloured, healthy foods. But that’s not what those cheeky piranhas want to eat. The story is written as a jaunty rhyme that’s fun to read aloud. There’s even a page to shout if you like. The piranhas are drawn with fantastic facial expressions and, for fun, the endpapers include a tongue-in-cheek description of both the piranha and the banana.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is written and illustrated by Victorian Aaron Blabey, published by Scholastic.
What’s in my Lunchbox
A little boy opens his lunch box each day to find out what’s inside. At first, it’s an apple, but he doesn’t like apples. Little readers will love guessing what’s next before they turn the page to find an increasingly ridiculous lunch item. And hopefully, be thankful that’s not what they find in their lunch box!
What’s in my Lunchbox is written by Sunshine Coast author Peter Carnavas, illustrated by Melbourne artist Kat Chadwick, published by New Frontier Publishing.
Try some of our healthy recipes for picky eaters!