Read Across America Day
Today is National Read Across America Day and while there are SO many options to choose from when it comes to your next great read, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite books about food.
But first, why is reading to your kids about food so important?
In general, there are many important benefits to reading to kids.
When kids hear stories, the part of the brain that is associated with visual imagery, story comprehension, and word meaning strengthens.
A 1985 landmark study concluded that the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
Not only is reading good for children’s academic achievement, it is also important for their mental health. Reading strengthens children’s social, emotion, and character development. A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that when children are read aloud to, they learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.
Reading about food, specifically, helps to normalize food in a way that can encourage an early development of a positive relationship with food. This positive relationship with food can be strengthened by making sure to choose books that don’t reinforce the moralization of food, or in other words, that do not define foods as “good” or “bad”.
Why is reading about food so important for you?
Here is the Reader’s Digest version:
Gain useful knowledge (for example, increasing your vocabulary)
Develop better brains, thicker cortexes = extra cognitive reserves = ability to withstand neurological injuries and damage
Develop more empathy because reading can take us into the experiences of others
Have more productive lives. When you read more, you process more information that you can act upon.
Similarly with kids, reading about food can help you to develop a more positive relationship with food.
Tips on ways to read more:
Just a couple of ideas on how to make more time for reading:
Make it part of your routine
Keep goals simple - 10 minutes or 10 pages
Use e-books! It makes books accessible anywhere (because you know you always have your phone on you)
Reading doesn’t have to be a sitting down kind of thing! I have no idea who invented the audiobook but I would hug them if I could! My family and I love audiobooks. I personally listen to them while I’m walking the dog. The kids like to listen to them on car rides (it avoids the issue of motion sickness while reading in the car). My mom likes to listen to them while she is walking on her treadmill.
Need some suggestions? We’ve got a book for every age group! Fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, etc.! While we link to books on other websites (like Amazon), we would really like to encourage you to check out your local library to see if they have these books. Most libraries are offering curbside pick up. Find your local library here. You can also call them for help and instructions on how to borrow and download e-books or audio books!
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z - Lois Ehlert
School Aged Kids:
So back in the day when I worked at the Maine SNAP-Ed Program, we had a GREAT program that taught school aged kids about the wide variety of fruits and vegetables there are in our world today. Part of those programs included a specific read-a-loud book each month. These books are still some of my favorites and I give them as baby shower gifts too! This great list is posted over on the Maine SNAP-Ed website. A few of my favorites are:
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? - Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition - Michael Pollan
Now, as an avid reader, I had to break the adult category up into sub-categories because I couldn’t narrow my list down!
But I Could Never Go Vegan - Kristy Turner (recommended by our Marketing Guru, Zoe!)
Tartine - Chad Robertson (recommended by my husband Heath who loves to make bread)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver This is a great story about family and growing food
Julie & Julia - Julie Powell Just a great story about an iconic American chef
Cooked - Michael Pollan This one is also a 4 part series on Netflix. Fascinating stuff about food anthropology.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel This one has been on my list for a while but I haven’t read it yet)
Whatever you end up choosing, enjoy the special moments of diving into a book!
Reading is just one of the many habits that can support a nourished lifestyle. Our team is always available to provide support on your wellness journey. We can be reached via our contact page.
Author: Leslie Ouellette-Todd, MS, RD, LD, MPH