Read (and Eat) Across America!



On March 2, 1998, the National Education Association sponsored the first “Read Across America Day.” Organizers chose the date to coincide with the birthday of the late, great Theodor Geisel, author of more than 60 children’s books and the recipient of a special Pulitzer Prize in 1984 citing his “contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents.” (You might know Theo better by his pen name, Dr. Seuss.)

Almost twenty years later, Read Across America Day is still going strong. Schools, libraries, and community centers across the United States participate by sponsoring reading related activities and events.

In my humble opinion, the best way to observe Read Across America Day is to read aloud to kids! If you don’t have kids (or grandkids) of your own, volunteer to read at a local school or library. Not sure what to read? How about encouraging healthy eating by choosing a great book about food?

Here’s a list of twenty-two food-related books to choose from, eleven in the “fun picture book” category and eleven in the “informational/activity book” category. Appropriately, the first list starts with one of Dr. Seuss’s most beloved tales, Green Eggs and Ham. Additional suggestions are in alphabetical order by title. (And yes—I’ve included my broccoli and parsnip books!)

Grab a book, grab a kid—and read!


1. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

2. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain

3. D.W. The Picky Eater by Marc Brown

4. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

5. Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell

6. Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Arian Dewey

7. I Do Not Eat the Color Green by Lynne Rickards

8. I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

9. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Sue Hendra

10. Once Upon a Parsnip by Barbara Jean Hicks and Kevin R. Wood, illustrated by Ben Mann

11. The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee


1. Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson and Mary Azarian

2. Be Good to Your Body–Healthy Eating and Fun Recipes by Roz Fulcher

3. Eat Lots of Colors! A Colorful Look at Healthy Nutrition for Children by Helen Marstiller, illustrated by Valerie Bouthyette

4. Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts by Bill and Claire Wurtzel

5. Funny Food Made Easy: Creative, Fun, & Healthy Breakfasts, Lunches, & Snacks by Bill and Claire Wurtzel

6. Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition by Lizzy Rockwell

7. How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth and Lucia Gaggiotti

8. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

9. Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook by Nicola Graimes and Howard Shooter

10. PB&J Hooray! Your Sandwich’s Amazing Journey from Farm to Table by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Julia Patton

11. To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure


Yours for books good enough to eat–

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Healthy Food

Images via Flickr under license by creative Mom Reading, U.S. Department of Education; Grandpa Reading, J. Aaron Farr. Fine Art Mother Reading: Plum Leaves. The painting, “At the End of the Day,” is by American artist William Sergeant Kendall (1869-1938), most famous for his evocative scenes of domestic life; his wife and three young daughters were frequent subjects in his early work. The painting is oil on canvas and is in the permanent collection of the Seattle Art Museum.



First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.

What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things. 

I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!

On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)

My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!

I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing.

Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.


Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”

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To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website.  To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at I look forward to hearing from you!

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