Combine reading and healthy food during National Reading Awareness Month and Nutrition Months

Book ideas for readers and food lovers of all ages.

National Reading Awareness Month is celebrated each March in schools across the country. Guest readers, reading competitions and book fairs are common ways that many classrooms choose to celebrate. Another fun idea is to pick a theme for the month and encourage students to read books around that theme and host classroom celebrations all month long as students meet their reading goals. One fun theme to read and celebrate is food. It is especially relevant because March is also National Nutrition Month.

Some great books featuring healthy foods for new readers are: Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Elhert.  Stone Soup by Marcia Brown, and Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss. Oregon State University Extension created a long list of books for children featuring healthy foods. Many of these books can be found in school and community libraries.

Elementary students might enjoy James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. This isn’t a book specifically about food but the peach is central to the story and there are so many yummy things that can be made with peaches – smoothies, pie, cobbler, ice cream - the classroom celebration possibilities are almost endless.

Middle school students, teachers and parents might consider the following: The Young Readers Edition of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Again, these books can usually be found in libraries across the state.

Adults might be interested in reading one of my favorite books, Farm City by Novella Carpenter. It is a personal account of her hilarious and challenging experiences creating a backyard urban farm in Oakland, CA. I also really enjoyed The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball, which tells the story of a city girl who fell in love with a country boy and sustainable farming. If you read these books, I bet you will be ready to sign up for a CSA share and get your hands dirty in your garden.

Don’t forget that cookbooks and recipes count as reading too! There are some great life lessons and math that go along with cooking. If you don’t have a kid friendly cookbook, there are many online resources such as www.pinterest.com, www.allrecipes.com, and www.foodnetwork.com.

Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of books and classes on healthy eating, farming and gardening. Check out some of our great resources at www.shop.msu.edu, www.migarden.msu.edu and www.msue.anr.msu.edu