As a parent, I always try to find out anyway I can influence my kid’s perspective on new foods. It could be letting my daughter pick out an unfamiliar vegetable to buy at the grocery store or to let her help prep that vegetable at home. Really anything that will make her more likely to taste that food when it lands on her plate.
But did you know that reading your children books with positive messages about food could make your child more inclined to try that food?
In a recent study, a group of preschoolers split into three groups. Each group was then read a story involving the vegetable kohlrabi (which they were not familiar with). One group’s story contained a positive message about kohlrabi, one a neutral message and one a negative message.
Not unsurprisingly, the children who heard the negative message were less likely to taste the kohlrabi than those who listened to the neutral story. More surprisingly, however, a significant number of children were more willing to eat the kohlrabi if they had heard the positive message than those which had received the neutral message.
The takeaway? Reading books to your child which contain positive messages about food (ideally fruits and vegetables) can increase the chances of your child them trying those foods.
Here are some of my favourite books about food to read to your kids.
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Food Books for Your Preschooler
I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato by Lauren Child
Even if you’re not huge fans of the TV show Charlie and Lola (we are, and I love the positive sibling relationship portrayed) you should check out this book. Charlie is feeding his picky little sister dinner. Lola’s theories as to why she does not like certain foods are sure to make you smile. Carrots are for rabbits; peas are too small and too green.
To try and get her to try the foods she says she dislikes he invents different names and properties for them. Mashed potatoes become cloud fluff from Mt Fuji, and fish sticks become ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea. Lola goes along with his game trying all the ‘new’ foods and even proclaims that tomatoes are now moon squirters and her favourite.
How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth
A great book with vibrant illustrations for curious minds. This story explores where the food in a lunch box comes from. From the fields and trees to the kitchen baking bread and the machines squeezing fruit this book is a great way to get your child excited about the food they encounter every day.
Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat and Jose Aruego
Gregory, the goat, is a picky eater who won’t eat the lovely trash his parents bring him for dinner. A cute book which explores the concepts of trying new foods well as overeating and consuming too much junk food. My daughter loves this one as she thinks Gregory’s dinners are hilarious.
Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition by Lizzy Rockwell
This book is the simple facts about nutrition and what happens to the food we eat. The information in the book is a bit outdated regarding its nutritional advice (processed carbs for example) but still a good jumping off point. However, as there isn’t a story to go along with the facts, not every kid is going to take to it right away.
Food Books for Your Baby and Toddler
Do you have a baby or toddler? Then check out these colourful board books. They’re all great at introducing your baby to different fruits and vegetables.
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Rah Rah Radishes by April Pulley Sayre
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Dealing with a picky eater? Check my post On How To Encourage Healthy Eating In Your Toddler