5 Mouth-Watering Picture Books for Picky Eaters

Children are notoriously picky eaters. One day, it’s all about the color of their food. Nothing green will do. Or every single edible just has to be white. Sometimes it’s about texture . . . it’s either too sticky or gloopy or stringy. And forget about those smelly, stinky fruits!

Whatever the issue, your children aren’t eating their doctor-prescribed rainbow of colors. And yet, you’re the one feeling sick! Sick with worry that they can’t possibly be getting their vitamins.

When reasoning with a stubborn toddler won’t do (or worse, with a big kid!), pick up a book and let great storytelling work its magic. Oh! And keep serving up bowls of all that is green, sticky, gloopy, and stringy – and maybe even slip in a moonsquirter or two!

Bread and Jam for Frances

by Russell Hoban

Frances is one fussy eater! Only bread and jam will do. In fact, she loves bread and jam so much, she skips rope to little love odes in its honor. But she won’t touch her slippery, squishy eggs. She balks at veal cutlets and trades her chicken salad sandwich with her friend Albert who enjoys all of his yummy lunch, making sure it all comes out even.

In fact, Frances dreams of eating nothing but bread and jam for every single meal of the day. But when her mother gives her exactly what she wants, the poor little girl can’t stomach it any longer!

Kids will love Frances’ rhyming verses and will empathize with her outlook on various dishes. Hoban’s food descriptions perfectly capture the picky eater! But they’ll also fall for Albert and feel his downright enjoyment of his meal. And who wouldn’t feel left out with bread and jam to eat when the whole family has platefuls of spaghetti and meatballs? This book is just so relatable and the pictures so sweet, it’s no wonder that it’s been a childhood favorite for over thirty years!

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato

by Lauren Child

Charlie is in charge of feeding his picky, little sister. But Lola has a long list of things she won’t eat. Carrots are for rabbits and peas are too green. Don’t mention mashed potatoes, mushrooms, spaghetti, eggs, sausages, or fish! And especially not tomatoes!! What’s Charlie to do?

He decides not to feed her any of those. Instead, Charlie feeds her orange twiglets from Jupiter (carrots), green drops from Greenland (peas), cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji (mashed potatoes) and . . . moonsquirters (tomatoes)!

There is a wonderful dynamic at play in this book. There are no parents to be found and the narrator, little Charlie, is our hero. He’s the one who takes on the challenge of dealing with a fussy eater and your kids will be identifying with him as much as – if not more so – than Lola. They’ll love it each time he tricks her into eating one of her “will never not ever” foods.

Plus, Lauren Child serves up the sweet and funny story with a big helping of delectable illustrations. Her childlike sketches are incredibly expressive and nicely collaged in with wallpaper patterns and enlarged photos of foods pasted on top. After one reading, your picky eater will never not ever pass up on a second serving of this playful tale.

Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli

by Barbara Jean Hicks

Cute rhyming text, eye-popping illustrations, and . . . monsters! These monsters love all sorts of eats – from tractors to rocket ships, with trailers for dessert. But, fum, foe, fie, fee . . . monsters don’t eat broccoli! Or artichokes or lima beans for that matter.

Kids will enjoy watching the brightly-colored and particularly ill-mannered creatures wreaking havoc. They pluck down spaceships from the sky with a fork, guzzle down boulders, and lick stop signs as if they were lollipops. But wait, those giant trees they gobble up sure do look a lot like broccoli. Maybe your own little monster might be inspired to munch down one or two. Just watch out for any beastly manners making their way to the dinner table!

Seven Silly Eaters

by Mary Ann Hoberman

You think you have it bad with a single picky eater? Just imagine a whole family of them! Wait, you don’t have to . . . Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrator, Marla Frazee, have already done it both elegantly and eloquently.

The Peters’ family has seven picky eaters: Peter wants only milk; Lucy craves homemade lemonade; Jack eats only applesauce. Each child will only eat one thing and poor Mrs. Peters is exhausted trying to satisfy all of them. She cooks, peels, squeezes, strains, kneads, and bakes, becoming more tired with each passing year. But when the children try to return the favor with a special breakfast meal, the disaster that ensues ends up being a new mealtime favorite the whole family can enjoy.

While this story doesn’t end with all the children gobbling up platefuls of veggies as you may have hoped, it does do a wonderful job of portraying how taxing picky eaters are on their parents.

The perfectly executed rhymes will have you happily picking this up for nightly read-alouds. And the AMAZING illustrations – you really cannot overstate the quality of these illustrations – will please everyone. They take you through seasons and years, and get your engaged and invested in this family with a whole myriad of details and rich personality. The minutiae are so credible and heartwarming, it’s a visual feast that will have you coming back for more and more.

What I Do with Vegetable Glue

by Susan Chandler

Scare tactics more your style? What I Do with Vegetable Glue is a quirky and hilarious picture book that will frighten your kids into clearing away every last bit of green from their plates.

It’s a story of a little girl who refuses to eat her veggies, preferring to gobble down cake instead. She might have gone on this way if it weren’t for a horrific discovery: Her body parts start falling off!

First it’s her right arm, then her head, and a nose! A simple cough has her losing her facial features. A bit of gas? Well, that makes her bottom drop off! She tries hard to keep it all together with vegetable glue but what she doesn’t realize is that the solution has to come from within. Grandma to the rescue! She’s a one-hundred and four and knows the secret to a long and healthy life – a nice, big bag of wonderful produce.

The rhymes are fun and flow nicely. The illustrations are sweet and beautiful – a great contrast to what’s actually happening in the story. If your fussy eater has a sense of humor, this is a must read. If nothing else, you’ll be sharing bellyfuls of laughter!

What strategies have you tried on your little picky eater? Share your successful (and not so successful) tips with us!

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