Food/ Green Living/ Healthy Kids

Real Food Books for Children


As many parents, caregivers and teachers are aware, books are a great way to introduce children to new concepts and situations. The stories and visuals allow an idea to blossom in the mind, making a connection to something the child hasn’t actually experienced yet. It also bridges the gap between something a child has experienced, but doesn’t fully understand.

As such, books are a great way to introduce children to the many facets of eating Real Food that are quite different from modern food usage. Real Food is not just about proper nutrition; it’s about community, politics, economics, healthcare, education, environment, diversity, and even religion in some cases. It’s important to give children a strong grasp of everything that goes into food, connect them to what they consume and the earth that provides for every living organism.

One MBL writer, Haley,  recently wrote about gardening as a means to show her son that food is “not miraculously conjured on grocery store shelves”. Some folks are even lucky enough to be able to visit the farms where they buy food, taking their kids to show them precisely where and how milk is produced. If these aren’t options for you, try some of these books, which are all pretty cheap:

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey – A charming book with beautiful illustrations. Preserving food for winter is a secondary theme and includes a highly detailed two page illustration of an old fashioned kitchen.

Harvest by Kris Waldherr – A more realistic illustration style with soft colors. Harvest covers the steps of picking produce from the garden and dry preserving them, then later reflecting on the splendor of the day under a beautiful harvest moon.

Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle – From the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, this book is about a boy who just wants pancakes for breakfast. His mother shows him that pancake batter doesn’t magically appear when he’s hungry and sets him out to gather fresh ingredients.

Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Buttered Bread by Maj Lindman – Along the same lines of Pancakes, Pancakes!, this classicly illustrated book covers all of the steps that go into making butter, starting with sunshine.

To Market, to Market by Nikki McClure – This uniquely styled book follows a mother and son to the farmer’s market where they go through their grocery list and learn about where each food came from.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall – A historical story about a New England farming family, following them through the seasons leading up to market day where they sell most of their property just to survive for another year.

Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown – This Little Golden Book features a brother and sister pair growing a garden, including a song about waiting for the fruits of their labor.

The Year At Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Marten Provensen – Another seasonally themed book with a simple art style, this book also demonstrates biodiversity and how nature works together.

Do you know of any other books that would fit this list? Share in the comments!

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  • Sandi
    July 5, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    This is a great list! We have To Market, to Market and love it! We always make sure we introduce ourselves to our local farmers at the Farmers Market when we buy our food and have made it a habit with Camille to thank them by name when we sit down to eat what we purchased locally. I love Nikki McClure’s art so this is a bonus to the book!

    • Cassandra
      July 5, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      That is an awesome idea about introducing yourself to the farmer! It teaches her good social habits, gratitude and I’m sure a sense of community. Not to mention you can sometimes get special deals just for being friendly with them!

  • Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas
    July 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Love this, Cassandra! Blueberries for Sal and Ox-Cart Man and some of Benjamin’s very favorite books. And Ox-Cart Man was my husband’s favorite book when he was little. My urban homesteading husband got to meet Donald Hall at a poetry festival and tell him, “Your book is what made me want to be a farmer!” The books we give our children are so important and stories are a wonderful way to impart truth. Great post!

  • Stephanie
    July 5, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    What a great post! I have a couple of these titles, but several I had never heard of before, thanks so much for bringing them to my attention!

  • Katherine
    July 5, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    It’s more sustainable and community-building to use the library 🙂

    • Cassandra
      July 5, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      I agree and is actually where I got all of the books except one, which my MIL gifted. I just wanted to point out they’re cheap if for some reason someone couldn’t find the books, they’re totally affordable.

    • Stephanie
      July 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      What about supporting the authors of these books though? I am always happy to spend money on books, even though we go to the library a lot.

      • Andrea S
        July 5, 2012 at 11:30 PM

        I agree! I think it’s a really good way of supporting local bookstores and authors! I LOVE books though, so I have no problem spending money on them! 🙂

        • Char
          December 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

          Yes, and they both need supporting! And besides, not all people have access to well stocked libraries.

  • Kim Kashorek
    July 5, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    What a great list! We enjoyed reading “How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World” last year. Although I prefer to buy locally, some foods simply aren’t available. We had a great discussion about geography, climates and how some foods grow better in other parts of the world. I wrote a review here….

    • Cassandra
      July 5, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Great suggestion!

  • Megan P.
    July 5, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Not a mom (yet!), but I love reading Pancakes, Pancakes with my first grade class as we learn about natural and capital resources. We always make pancakes in the classroom as well! Gail Gibbons has plethora of wonderful, attractive non fiction books on agriculture as well- I always use The Apple Book and The Pumpkin Book each fall to introduce growth cycles and products before we take a field trip to the pumpkin patch! So many of my students have never had the opportunity to see where their food comes from, the market and farm can be overwhelming. I like to help activate their background with literature before we experience a trip together!

    • Cassandra
      July 5, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      Wow, I’m so glad a professional teacher commented! Those are great suggestions. I’m in awe of teachers who take the time to teach kids about real food and how nature is involved. It needs to happen more often!

  • Megan P.
    July 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Oh! And Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco! How could I forget! Great example of using your home garden unexpectedly! I always make a cake to bring in, and the children are surprised and excited to try the cake with the “special additions”! 🙂

    • Haley
      July 6, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      I love Thunder Cake! I almost forgot about that book. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

  • victoria
    July 5, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    My FAVORITE children’s book is Blueberries For Sal! I love it. I read it to Bean alllll the time!

  • paula j
    July 5, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Stone Soup might be another good choice and it is fun because each family member gets to add something they like.

    • Cassandra
      July 5, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      Oh I remember that one. It would teach community for sure, and that meals don’t have to come from recipes.

  • Francesca Hirtle
    July 6, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    ABCs of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond by Steve Charney and David Goldbeck.

  • Angel
    July 9, 2012 at 6:03 AM

    I also love “there are apples here,” which follows an apple orchard through the seasons, with great visual details on how the apples grow, different ages/genders/races in the illustrations, and a sweet story.

  • Tamara @ Oh Lardy
    November 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    First of all, I am lmao at your wording for people to sign up for your newsletter. LOVE IT!!!! Sign up, maybe. LOL!
    And, I am so thankful for this list of books. Some of these will definitely be left under our Christmas tree. Thank you for putting together this list!

    • Cassandra
      November 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      Hi Tamara! So great to see you over here.

  • Ariana {And Here We Are...}
    November 28, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Great list! I just shared this on facebook. Blueberries for Sal was a favorite of mine as a child.

    • Cassandra
      November 28, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      Hi Ariana! Thanks for sharing 😀

  • Nancy
    December 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Not a mom, but was a teacher for 35 years and used many of these books with the kids. I taught kids with Autism and since we focused on life skills, cooking was an essential part of the curriculum. There was always a way to integrate a cooking lesson with one of these titles and perhaps a trip to the market. Thanks for the list! I remember “Blueberries for Sal” as being one of the first books I received though the Weekly Reader Book Club growing up!

    • Cassandra
      December 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      That’s so awesome, thank you for sharing!

  • Char
    December 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    How about The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? One of my favorites! I love how it portrays what all the tree provides!

  • Char
    December 6, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I found this article as it was posted on FB by one of my friends and I’m so glad I did! Great list, great info! Thank you for doing your part to making this world a better place! 🙂