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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

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  • Mon- Friday10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 5pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

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Picture Books We Love

From Farm to Table: 10 Books about Food & Farms

With the return of spring and the new growing season to New England, I start getting excited about finally being able to get back out into the garden. The Carle is located in beautiful Western Massachusetts, the scenic home for some of New England’s most beautiful and hardworking farms.  As long as you don’t mind being stuck behind a tractor on your way to work some mornings, there is really nothing better than living among farms that grow your fresh food and livestock. In celebration of the good food the earth brings us and the hardworking hands that make it possible, here is a list of my favorite books about fresh fruits, vegetables, farmers and the farmer’s market.

For Ages 0-3

1. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1989)

2. Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987)

Lois Ehlert's books are absolutely perfect for introducing babies and toddlers to the food they eat (or are learning to eat!). With her iconic, colorful collage illustrations, Ehlert takes readers on an A to Z exploration of naming fresh fruits and vegetables in Eating the Alphabet. I always have a soft spot in my heart for books that include asparagus, kumquats and swiss chard - not often seen in picture books! In Growing Vegetable Soup, Ehlert's simple text explains step-by-step the basics of growing vegetables by seed in the garden, harvesting them and then eating them in soup.

3. Fruit by Sara Anderson (Handprint Books, 2007)

4. Vegetables by Sara Anderson (Handprint Books, 2007)

Sara Anderson's Fruits and Vegetables are also board books, perfect for the babies and toddlers learning the names of food and recognizing their shapes. The colorful illustrations of a variety of fruit and vegetables are set against bright, contrasting colors. Each beautiful page would look great as series of prints in a nursery or kitchen, don't you think?

For Ages 3-6

5. A Day at the Market by Sara Anderson (Handprint Books, 2006)

Sara Anderson's A Day at the Market takes readers on the tour of a farmer's market in a large, lap-sized board book. Die-cuts on the pages let readers peek into all the different stalls of a variety of vendors selling everything from flowers and fish to vegetables and bread. West coast readers may recognize the colorful and busy setting of Seattle's Pike Place Market.

6. We’re Going to the Farmer’s Market by Stefan Page (Chronicle Books, 2014)

This small board book features rhyming text and bright, graphic illustrations reminiscent of Patrick Hruby's artwork. Stefan Page guides young readers through visiting the farmer's market, selecting fruits, vegetables and fish, to bringing the groceries home to create a delicious feast.

7. And the Good Brown Earth by Kathy Henderson (Candlewick Press, 2003)

A go-to favorite of mine. A grandmother teaches her grandson how to garden through the seasons, from digging and turning the earth, to planting the seeds, watering and harvesting the vegetables. The rhythmic text and repetition makes this a great read-aloud.

For Ages 4-8

8. Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Mary Azarian (Tilbury House Publishers, 2014)

I'm so happy to have found this book recently. It's the perfect picture book to tell the story of how our food gets from the farm to our dinner table, while remaining easily accessible to young readers. The text is simple and not at all heavy-handed, introducing readers to all the people who make getting our food possible. I especially love that it isn't simply the obvious farms of produce and tractors that are highlighted. The livestock farmers, the fishermen and the beekeepers all get their due here. The book gives thanks to not only those who grow and harvest the food, but also to those that pack it and transport it to the grocery stores and markets, to the stores and people who work there to the families who purchase the food. A great introduction to the farm-to-table process for young readers.

9. To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011)

Accompanied by her stunning, papercut illustrations, Nikki McClure highlights a visit to the farmer's market by highlighting vendors and giving a glimpse at each's distinct growing, harvesting or creating process. From apples, to honey, to baked goods and handcrafted items, McClure gives each farmer and craftsperson a name and a voice, showing the comradery and friendship found in the market community. The text is a bit long for a picture book, making it better suited for slightly older readers.

10. How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? By Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti (Candlewick Press, 2011)

A very informative picture book that explains how a variety of foods that we may take for granted get to our plates and lunchboxes. Learn step-by-step how the cheese in your sandwich was made or how clementines are grown and harvested. Chris Butterworth takes complicated processes about growing, harvesting and manufacturing food and explains them simply and concisely, while Lucia Goaggiotti offers colorful, info-graphic style illustrations to walk readers through the steps. Bonus food and nutrition facts can be found in the back of the book.

From large-scale farms to home gardeners, these picture books all share the sense of community and many hands involved in getting the food that we eat.

Do you have a favorite picture book about food and farms? Let us know in a comment below!

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