Food may be a touchy topic in your house if you’re raising a selective eater on the spectrum. These fun kids books about picky eating give you the opportunity to change the conversation and find likable, funny, and interesting facts about what we eat and why. No, these books won’t solve picky eating, but they will shine a new light on food and can show your child that s/he is not alone.
To encourage more learning and further the conversation about food, try some of the suggested activities listed as “homework” under each recommendation.
Now here you go:
These Are My 8 Favorite Picky Eating Books for Kids with Autism
By Joshua David Stein
Playful and whimsical, yet informative at the same time, Can I Eat That? is written by a food critic determined to help kids learn about and fall in love with food. With an approach that encourages young readers and picky eaters to participate and laugh, kids will learn about where food comes from and how it tastes. Each page features a different question and something about the creative illustrations and funny facts appeals to even picky eaters. Parents are shocked with their kids actually ask to order sea urchin at restaurants and happily eat eggplant at home!
Homework: Help your child find a recipe with one of the foods in the book and cook together. Visit a restaurant where you can try a new food you learn about in the book.
By Vivian French
Oliver is a selective eater. With the help of his family and trips to the farm and his grandfather’s garden, he discovers life beyond potatoes - and he actually likes it! Oliver’s diet soon includes fruits, veggies, and even a homemade milkshake. The Oliver books are colorful, full of beautiful illustrations, and are easy to read. Plus they’re autism-approved - this recommendation comes from one of the moms in the Nutrition for Autism Support Group.
Homework: With your child, hold a taste test of some of the fruits and veggies Oliver learns to like or create your own fruit or vegetable salad with your child’s help (many fruits are soft enough for kids to cut).
By Russell Hoban
Frances is a classic picky eater who is afraid to try new food. As she says “When I have bread and jam I always know what I am getting, and I am always pleased.” Sound familiar? So when she decides she is only eating bread and jam that’s exactly what her parents serve her. And only that! Your own selective eater might be surprised to learn how Frances feels as she watches everyone else eat a variety of fun, tasty food. The book’s most important takeaway for parents just might be that a child who makes the decision about what (s)he eats (ie more variety) will feel better about eating.
Homework: Ask your child how she would feel if s/he ate the same food and nothing else every day all day for the whole week.
By Stan and Jan Berenstain
This is a picky eating classic that will show your kiddo how eating too many sweets can make you feel blah and sick. You kid will love looking at the heaps of candy - and may even recognize Mama Bear’s admonitions. But along with the Berenstain family, your little will learn that foods that taste good don’t always make them feel good and don’t make their bodies work well either.
Homework: Visit the fridge with your child to point out foods that can help their bodies feel good and give them energy to do the things they love to do. Discuss how the body is like a car - it needs good gas to help it go, have energy, and stay healthy. Junky foods don’t fill up the tank, but all of those fruits and veggies help the body run like it should!
By Lizzy Rockwell
Good Enough to Eat is a fun and colorful guide to kid’s nutrition written especially for kids! Did you know that carbs supply most of the energy that the body uses? (Oh, and you’ll learn what a carb is, too!) Do you know how much water the body needs every day? Good Enough to Eat offers a complete guide to kids nutrition. You’ll learn about food groups, vitamins, and minerals, and how digestion works. It’s a great read for the budding scientist and opens up discussions about why you serving a balanced, colorful diet. Though fact-heavy, the book is still fun and light. It even includes recipes and science experiments.
Homework: Try a recipe or science experiment from the book. During dinner, have your child identify which food groups are on his/her plate.
By Lauren Child
I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato is a new picky eating classic that takes a creative approach to feeding a picky eater. Lola won’t eat regular old vegetables. But her clever brother Charlie has a genius idea. In this silly book, Lola’s dreaded veggies are transformed into “moonsquirters,” cloud fluffs, and twigs from other planets. Are these more appealing than carrots and tomatoes? Your little will be dying to find out!
Homework: Brainstorm fun names for the fruits and vegetables currently in your kitchen. Then, create a snack with some of these fun “new” foods.
By Jean Reidly
A book that speaks to kids with sensory food aversions, Too Pickley explores the struggles of when food just doesn’t seem right to a sensitive eater. The format is simple and the pictures bright and fun, so it’s a great book for young eaters and those who have strong visual communication skills.
Homework: Using some foods you’d like your child to eat, find positive words to describe how they look, feel, and smell. Avoid words like “yummy” or “icky”. Words like “bumpy,” “crunchy,” and “sour” are all good examples.
This is another recommendation from an autism mom from the Nutrition for Autism Support Group! Toddlers can discover where food comes from in this fun search-and-find board book as they join Elmo and friends on a visit to the Sesame Street Farm.
Homework: Plant a small garden of your own or plan a visit to a local farm or farmers market to see what foods grow in your area. Is there something you can bring home for a taste?