Reading to and with our children is one of the most profound ways, as parents, we can help positively shape their worlds and development, even at a very young age. It’s a gift of unlimited value that will stay with them…always. Developing a love of books and the magic they contain is something I want for my children and for all children. In this digital age children’s books with their crisp colorful pages still have the power to send us on a journey of discovery. Escape to an island of beasts and become their king, eat your way through an epic picnic, discover the true meaning of friendship and sacrifice, explore the senses, and relate to real life childhood challenges. Here are five of my favorite books in children’s literature and some fun ways to tie in healthy snacks to each book.
The Hungry Caterpillar
A classic book by Eric Carle full of beauty and and simplicity. This book rarely gets old…I recently read it to a class of 2nd graders and the smiles on their faces were filed with joy and memories. Our favorite Hungry Caterpillar snacks are melon caterpillars with pumpkin seed antennae and swiss cheese butterflies, using a cookie cutter and cream cheese or nut (or seed) butter to stick the pretzel to the cheese.
Where the Wild Things Are
The magical tale by Maurice Sendak of Max and the island where the wild things live. Such a beautiful way to connect with children and their behavior and choices. The illustrations are magical works of ark. We like to make “Wild Waffles” to tie into this book, childhood imagination and creativity. Simply spread waffles (we use Nature’s Path or Homemade) with nut or seed butter and decorate with healthy things like cheese, fruits, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
A beautiful way to begin chapter books with your children, this class tale by E.B. White (illustrated by Garth Williams) weaves the web of unlikely friendship. We like to make “Cheesy Charlottes” by using pretzels and cheese rounds. We use puréed black beans and water to make food paint for the face.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
The classic book by Bill Martin Jr. (illustrated by Eric Carle) is wonderful book that helps children learn about observing their world. The repetition is language building and makes this a great first reader for older children. I recently caught my five year old reading this book to my two year old – I may have teared up a little bit. We like to use cookie cutters to make bear shaped sandwiches or make bear waffles with nut or seed butter, bananas and dried fruit.
Bread and Jam for Francis
This sweet and classic book by Russell Hoban (illustrated by Lillian Hoban) has been one of my favorites for years. I remember my mom reading it to me when I was young. It’s a wonderful story about balancing the things you love and trying new things. Francis knows what she likes but after her parents go along with her desire to eat only bread and jam she begins to get sick of it and think she just may be missing out, resulting in her discovering she likes spaghetti and meatballs. My five year old often asks me to make my spaghetti and turkey meatballs just so we can play “Francis”! We also like to make jam (like my Cranberry Jam) to tie into the book.
What books do you and your children love? Share in the comments below.