Food, Glorious Food! Serving Up Common Core Connections

For Middle Elementary Students

Barrett, Judi.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  ISBN:  0-689-30647-4.  Lexile: 730.
Today’s students may be acquainted with the movie, but not necessarily with the book.  The children in the story are amazed by Grandpa’s tall tale bedtime story about the town of Chewandswallow, where there is no need of grocery stores.  Instead, food and meals are delivered by way of the weather.    It’s far-fetched, but fun.  There are opportunities to introduce or review “weather words” such as downpour, storm, drifts, tornado, occasional, gradual clearing, etc. and use them for discussion around Reading Anchor Standard 4 for craft and structure.   

Butterworth, Chris.  How did that get in my Lunchbox? The Story of Food. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5005-6 . Lexile: 870.
Butterworth uses a typical lunchbox meal of a sandwich, fruit, vegetable, and cookie to engage students in learning about where seven common foods and ingredients come from and how they made their way into stores.  The processing steps are clearly shown with colorful, detailed illustrations in flow-chart style, and the new MyPlate guide is shown.  The book reminds readers that a healthy lunch is just one part of daily needs, and that exercise, lots of water, and a good breakfast to fuel the day are essential, too.

Friedman, Ina.  How my Parents learned to Eat.  ISBN: 9780395442357.  Lexile: 450.
This is a sweet text on a related topic—how we eat.  An American sailor and a young Japanese woman each secretly try to learn how to use the utensils of the other culture with amusing results.  The book is perfect for multicultural foods discussions and for the Common Core standard of identifying the central message or theme.    Much is conveyed through the illustrations in this book, which makes it a good choice for Reading Anchor Standard 7.

Hopkinson, Deborah.  Fannie in the Kitchen: the whole story from soup to nuts of how Fannie Farmer invented recipes with precise Measurements.  ISBN: 9780439411103.  Lexile: 380.
Hopkinson cleverly structured this text as “courses” of a meal as she relates the story behind the compilation of one of the first modern cookbooks.  This text lends itself to discussion around CCSS standards 4-6 relating to craft and structure, and could also be used to launch explanatory pieces of writing in which students recount procedures they followed for a science experiment or other project.

Reynolds, Aaron.  Creepy Carrots.   ISBN: 9781442402973  Lexile: AD410
At first glance, this book appears to be for a younger audience.  Middle elementary students, however, will find much to appreciate and chuckle about, perhaps with a bit of a shiver.  Jasper is a rabbit who munches all day long on the wild carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field.  That is, until they begin stalking him.  Soon he begins to see them everywhere—or does he?  Peter Brown's illustrations use a dark, limited palette (with some orange to draw the reader's eyes to the evil carrots) and frames that give it the feel of a mock-horror film.   Word choice, phrasing, the placement of words on the page, the format for the pictures, the colors used, etc. all contribute to the “creepy” mood and could lead to discussions about craft and structure.

Rockwell, Lizzy.  Good Enough to Eat:  a Kids Guide to Food and Nutrition. ISBN:  0-06-027435-2. Lexile: 570.
Rockwell’s book has engaging illustrations, speech bubbles, and fact boxes which explain basic nutrients and the jobs they do in our bodies.  Although it is an older title that references the Food Pyramid, it doesn’t emphasize it and the information is applicable to the newer MyPlate model.  This is a book you could spread out over a number of readings, zeroing in on just one nutrient at a time, perhaps reading about just that nutrient in multiple sources and synthesizing the information on a chart or in a class book or multimedia presentation.

Salas, Laura.  Lettuce Introduce you: Poems about Food.  ISBN: 9781429617031 .  Lexile: NP
Salas's book is intended to introduce children to poetry.  It is full of word play, demonstrates a number of poetic forms, and includes poems about such popular foods as spaghetti, s'mores, pizza, and sushi.  The author chose a non-fiction format for the book, which includes photographs, a “Language of Poetry” section, glossary, index, a “Read More” list and related Internet sites.  This is a title that would work well during both a poetry unit of study or a food-themed study in science or social studies.

Sayre, April Pulley.  Go, go, Grapes! A Fruit Chant.  ISBN:  978-1-4424-3390-8.  Lexile:  not available.
Sayre, April Pulley. Let’s Go Nuts!  Seeds We Eat.  ISBN: 978-1-4424-6728-6.  Lexile: not available
Sayre, April Pulley.  Rah, rah, radishes! A Vegetable Chant.  ISBN:  978-1-4424-2141-7.  Lexile: not available.
With rhyming couplets, lots of alliteration, and fabulous photography, Sayre showcases the vast array of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds available in farmers markets and grocery stores.  All three books can be used to discuss the author's purpose and tone. She introduces many food items and her enthusiasm for them is infectious.    Be sure to share the end matter as well, which offers additional information, and some tongue-in-cheek comments and puns about food items that didn't make the cut for the book.  Sayre is the author of over fifty books for children, spanning a variety of topics, so you might consider an author study as well.  (How does her writing voice change depending upon her topic?)  Check out her website for additional information and some science extension ideas for her vegetable book here. An extensive list of further teaching ideas and explorations can be found here.

Stevens, Janet.  Tops and Bottoms.  ISBN: 9780152928513 . Lexile: 580.
Hare has had a run of bad luck and has lots of mouths to feed, so he strikes a bargain with his neighbor, Bear, who is rich but lazy.  Hare agrees to farm Bear's land and do all the work if Bear will allow him to keep part of the crop.  His cunning allows him to keep the tops of crops that grow above ground, the bottoms of crops that grow below ground, and the middles of a crop of corn.

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