Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres and Nadine Bernard Westcott

One of the inevitable consequences of raising city kids is that most of them will never get the chance to visit a real farm or do any real gardening. Also, since the fresh produce that they get is bought from the markets or, more commonly, the supermarkets, it’s hard for them to reconcile the idea that fruits and vegetables don’t come in their ready-to-eat forms, but have to be harvested from plants. (Let’s not get into how we get meat on the table…) Thus, books can be a wonderful way to get kids to become more aware of the roots (pun intended) of their food.

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Using brightly coloured, detailed illustrations and concise rhyming text, Up, Down, and Around is a great book for introducing kids to the idea of gardening, as well as how various fruit and vegetables grow β€” or, more precisely, what grows up, down (roots) and all around (vine plants). The catchy rhymes are also great for kids to read aloud and remember, for instance, “Broccoli grows up. Beets grow down. Green beans wind around and around.”

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The book ends with the children helping to harvest the produce and then having them for lunch in a feast that includes vegetable stew, a salad and a pumpkin pie, highlighting the appeal and importance of choosing fresh produce whenever possible, rather than processed food from a can or box.

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