Food, Glorious Food! Serving Up Common Core Connections

For Lower Elementary Students

Ayres, Katherine. Up, Down, and Around. ISBN: 978-0-7636-2378-4. Lexile: not available.
This rhyming text with whimsical illustrations by Nadine Westcott is full of prepositions for word work, and it teaches about garden crops that grow above the ground, below the ground, and those that twist around in vines. Once students are clued in, they can really appreciate the humor in the Stevens book Tops and Bottoms, featured in the list for middle elementary readers.

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Grains Group. ISBN: 978-1-60014-756-2. Lexile: 520.
Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Healthy Eating. ISBN:  978-1-60014-757-9.  Lexile: 510.
These two Blastoff Readers titles are representative of the Eating Right with My Plate series. According to the publisher, these early readers “combine standards-based content with developmentally appropriate text.” Both have high quality photographs, an uncluttered appearance on each page, and non-fiction text features such as bold print, glossary, index, headings, etc.  Each gives an overview of the topic with the most important points for young readers. Use them to demonstrate to students how the writer makes a claim and then gives reasons and evidence to support her ideas. (Writing Anchor Standard 1)

Follow up by writing a whole-class opinion piece related to your unit, with reasons and evidence based upon the texts you have read together and the experiences you have had. (Examples: “Shopping at the farmers' market is good for our community” or “It is important to learn about and try foods from other countries and cultures.” ) This whole-group work will lay the foundation for students' independent writing of argumentative/opinion pieces later.  TeachersFirst provides an in-depth look at argument and opinion writing in an earlier installment. 

Brown, Marcia. Stone Soup. ISBN: 9780689711039. Lexile: 480.
In this classic tale, hungry soldiers returning from war outsmart the locals who are unwilling to share their food by announcing that they can make soup from a stone. Bit by bit, intrigued by the prospect of soup fit for a king from a simple stone, the villagers contribute ingredients for a fine feast indeed. Because there are many variations of this tale it can be used to practice Reading Anchor Standard 9, comparing and contrasting multiple versions of the same text, considering the approaches that different authors take. (see Additional Resources list for some suggestions of variants of this tale.)

Hoban, Russell. Bread and Jam for Frances. ISBN: 9780060223595. Lexile:  AD490.
This is a classic tale of too-much-of-a-good-thing. Frances wants nothing to do with eggs for breakfast, she trades her lunch away at school, and prefers bread and jam to the meals her mother prepares at night. Mother subtly and gently teaches her a lesson by giving her only bread and jam one day. The story can be used to study character traits, problem/solution, and inferring. Students who learn about the My Plate guidelines could also see how Frances’s lunch stacks up at the end.  Pair this with Sharmat's book below, on a similar topic.

Lin, Grace. Ugly Vegetables. ISBN: 9781570914911. Lexile: 390.
This book works well with a nutrition, gardening or harvest theme. The child in the story would prefer that her mother's garden contain beautiful flowers like those of their neighbors, rather than the ugly, lumpy, bumpy Chinese vegetables they have planted.  Students will relate to being asked to “wait and see” and will appreciate the story's resolution as the tantalizing smell of Ugly Vegetable Soup brings the neighbors by—bearing gifts of flower bouquets! The author includes a recipe and the Chinese characters for the vegetable names.

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Little Pea. ISBN: 978-0-8118-4658-5.  Lexile: 690.
Younger students love the premise of this book. Little Pea enjoys doing all the same sorts of things that they do, but hates candy, which is served for dinner every night in various colors and flavors. Her parents insist that she eat five pieces before she gets dessert. One by one she forces them down—yuck, pleh, bleck, until at last she gets her reward—spinach! Both Hoban's text (above) and Sharmat's (below) make great companion books to this one. Use the trio to compare and contrast the problem and solution, how the characters respond to their own situation, and the details that the writer put in to add humor, which is the intent of the Reading Anchor Standard 3.

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.
These three titles show Sayre's enthusiasm for fresh, nutritious food. Students will enjoy the rhythmic, spare text and accompanying lush photographs. The books would be perfect to use before or after a field trip to a local market. 

Sharmat, Mitchell. Gregory, the Terrible Eater. ISBN: 9780590433501.  Lexile: 490.
Gregory is not your average goat. He loves to eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, and bread instead of the tin cans, bottle caps, and carpet scraps his parents offer.  The way his parents carry out the treatment plan prescribed by Gregory's doctor will have children giggling.

Wilson, Karma. Bear Wants More.  ISBN:  0-689-84509-X.  Lexile:  500. 
Wilson’s Bear books are popular with young readers. In this episode, Bear awakens from his winter slumber and is ravenous. Well-intentioned friends take him to places in the forest where he can find tasty food and whenever he finishes one snack, he wants more. The consequence of his gluttony is that he cannot fit through the door of his den, where his friends have prepared a springtime surprise party for him. Rich vocabulary, action words, a problem and solution, a repeating pattern, and a surprise ending provide some Common Core connections.

IntroductionGathering Reading Material
For Lower Elementary StudentsFor Middle Elementary StudentsFor Upper Elementary Students
Additional Resources