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Picture books to encourage conversations about food

If you have a reluctant eater, reading together can be a wonderful way to introduce foods and ideas about eating in a pressure free way. To celebrate World Book Day, we’ve compiled our top ten foodie picture books for kids, from the classics to the educational to the rib-tickling silly.

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Coming in at number one is this timeless classic. Children will learn the life cycle of a butterfly and can have fun discussing the different foods the caterpillar eats and perhaps which ones they’d choose. It’s also a great starting point for fun in the kitchen - gather the different fruits featured to make a fruit salad or have a go at modelling your own caterpillar from grapes, strawberry and raisins.

2. Avocado Asks by Momoko Abe

What am I? This beautifully illustrated book deals with issues of confidence and identity as well as educating kids about a rainbow of vegetables (or are they fruit?)

3. We Eat Bananas by Katie Abey

Is that a flamingo munching on a banana? What about that hippo flipping pancakes? And why is that llama dressed as a lemon? Throughout this joyfully illustrated book the animals are eating their favourite foods in their own hilarious way. A great book to encourage conversations around favourite foods, the more bizarre the better!

4. I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

We’re not normally fans of labels like ‘fussy’ eating or tricking kids into eating food, but big brother Charlie’s creative conjuring of 'orange twiglets from Jupiter' (carrots), 'cloud fluff' mashed potato and tomato-like 'moon-squirters' to get little sister Lola to eat her veg are super fun and a great way to start a conversation with kids.

5. Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French

Oliver wants chips! Healthy eating? Forget it! Oliver doesn’t care about fresh veg or nutritious food. But when he goes to stay with Grandpa, Oliver is forced to strike a bargain. If he can find enough potatoes in the vegetable patch, Oliver can have chips. But he’s also got to eat all the other vegetables he finds during his hunt! On Monday, he pulls up carrots. On Tuesday, it’s spinach. What else will he dig up?

This is a gorgeous story for reluctant eaters. We can all agree that chips are delicious, but so many other vegetables are too. It encourages curiosity, confidence and all the growth mindset attitude we wholeheartedly support.

6. Dragons Love Tacos by Regan McMahon

Not all foodie books need morals and this does what it says on the tin.Kids may well relate to the perils of spicy food and the silly story and illustration are lots of fun. Why not talk about what your kids love most. Or think of some other mythical creatures. If dragons love tacos, what do unicorns love?

7. The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy

This is a food focused story with a wonderful moral about collaboration at its heart - if we work together as a team, we can do anything. It’s also great for teaching numbers and counting to younger children and gets bonus points from us for showcasing a lesser used veg. When was the last time you ate a turnip?!

8. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks

Fi fum foe fee, monsters don’t eat broccoli. Or do they? This brightly illustrated book is lots of fun.

9. Green Eggs & Ham by Dr Seuss

Getting kids to even try a new food can be one of the biggest hurdles we confront as parents. They don’t like the look, the smell, the name - nothing can convince them to put it in their mouths. This is a story about expecting to dislike something and actually loving it. Of course this doesn’t always happen, but it’s a great foundation for discussing trying new things with your kids.

10. The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

The story of Sophie and her surprising guest is a classic for a reason. We’ll forgive the inclusion of a stay at home mummy desperately wondering what she’ll feed her husband when there’s not even any beer in the house for the sheer joy of this story. A great conversation starter around appetite, eating as a family, table manners and more.

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