by Marion Nestle
Apr 9 2012

Three terrific books about feeding kids

Karen Le Billon, French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters, HarperCollins, 2012.

I blurbed this one: It takes a brave couple to move two picky-eater kids to a small French town and convert them to foodie omnivores.  North Americans have much to learn from European food traditions, and the contrast between French and North American school lunches is a striking example.  A must-read for teachers as well as parents.

Jeannie Marshall, Outside the Box: Why Our Children Need Real Food, Not Food Products, Random House, 2012.

I blurbed this one too: Outside the box is about teaching kids how to appreciate real food but also about how globalization is changing the way the world eats.  In this beautifully writeen book about what needs to be done to preserve food culture in Italy and elsewhere, Marshall makes the political personal as she explains how she is teaching her son to enjoy the pleasures of eating food prepared, cooked, and lovingly shared by friends and family.

Bill and Claire Wurtzel, Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts, Welcome Books, 2012.

I wasn’t asked to blurb this one, but like it anyway:  Your kid doesn’t want to eat real food for breakfast?  No excuses.  This book illustrates 365 breakfasts made of eggs, toast, cereal, pancakes, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and other good things.  These are presented as faces, animals, and toys so easy to do that even a time-challenged parent can whip them up in a second.  I can’t imagine any kid resisting eating foods like these.    Silly, absolutely.  Worth it?  Give it a try.


  • Marion, thank you so much for sharing these titles–the first two, in particular, seem very interesting and vital to what needs to happen in the U.S. in terms of children eating healthier and leading healthier lives.

    I’m an American raising two children in Italy, so the first book about the family living in France and the food culture affecting their children really resonates with me. I’ve seen firsthand here in Italy how children, as soon as they can eat solid food, are fed “real food,” that is, the food grown-ups eat. Nothing is dumbed-down to make it supposedly (and I’m convinced this is a myth) more palatable to kids.

    Not meaning to self-promote, but I wrote a blog post some years ago comparing American and Italian school lunches (i.e. what my own children were/are being served at their preschool/elementary school), which your readers may find interesting. It is an issue dear to my heart.

    (What I Love Most about Living in Florence):

    Thank you for your efforts on this score!

  • brad

    I live with a French woman, and it’s true that “no snacking” is generally part of the culture although as a kid she did have one snack every day when she came home from school. And sometimes that snack would be an entire baguette and a large hunk of cheese. She almost never snacks now, though, just three meals a day with nothing in between. When we go to visit her family over there, the main thing I notice is that we eat a lot but it is spread out over time. Lunch can last an hour or two, supper will start around 7 with appetizers and finish around 11. Nobody in her family is overweight.

  • I just started reading Karen Le Billion’s book. Love it so far, particularly the parts about the food education happening in school. Am looking forward to reading more of the book, and checking out these other books as well. Thanks!

  • Dear Marion,
    Bill and I were honored that you blurbed about our book, Funny Food.
    Unsolicited compliments are especially great.
    You’re right, we haven’t met a kid who didn’t laugh when looking through the book.
    When we lead workshops in schools to teach about good nutrition, we use the Funny Food images to inspire the students when they make their own creations.
    Claire Wurtzel

  • Thank you for the suggestions, especially Funny Food. I’d like to offer one more: Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids: How to Teach Your Child the Joy of Food. It’s available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but currently 25% at As a feeding therapist, I wrote Happy Mealtimes for all parents who hope to raise adventurous eaters and avoid the mealtime debates or the chicken nugget & fries rut. It’s a quick read with practical suggestions that can be implemented right away. Thank you!

  • Katherine

    Thank you for the recommendations. I am interested in working professionally in child health and want to learn more about how to improve children’s health. I also am going to keep these books in mind for when I have my own children in the future. Thanks again!

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