Kid’s Corner: Blueberries with Sal
July is National Blueberry Month (yes, that’s a thing) so what better way to celebrate than by selecting an oldie but goodie for our July Kid’s Corner? E is four and a half and getting her excited about healthy foods can be a challenge. As an infant and toddler she ate almost everything but at age 3 she started protesting anything that wasn’t a carbohydrate. One thing that has been effective has been to take her to where her food comes from. We are members of a community farm share and, over the summer, we like to take her to pick her own foods. We’ve picked green beans, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, shell peas, bush beans, husk cherries, and tomatillos. But by far our favorite is blueberry picking. Blueberries are perfect for little fingers and are pretty versatile, thus easily integrated into a variety of foods.
So this month E and I reviewed Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. Keep reading to find out what E thought of the book. We’ll show you what we made with all the blueberries we picked (with recipe), and I’ll end by recommending some of my favorite books to teach young children about healthy foods.
Blueberries for Sal was first published in 1948 and it won the Caldecott Award in 1949. I’m guessing anyone who has either been a child or had a child in the last 50 years has read this classic. The book tells the story of little Sal and her mother and a bear and her cub who all go out one morning to pick blueberries on Blueberry Hill and get all mixed up with each other. Here’s what E thought about the book:
Me: What was the book about?
E: Blueberries, Sal, and bears.
Me: What do you like about it?
E: I like that the mommy was just picking berries and she was putting them in the pail but Sal wasn’t.
Me: Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
E: yes, that when she turned around there was someone different there.
Me: You didn’t like when they got all mixed up?
Me: What would you do if we were picking berries and all of a sudden we got mixed up and you were with a bear?
E: I would just run away (mimics running away).
Final Verdict: E gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
I really like Blueberries for Sal. The story is simple and the example of the mom picking while the child eats all the blueberries is exactly what happens when we go blueberry picking. An added benefit is that it taught Emma that blueberries don’t come from the store but rather from plants. The book inspired us to go out blueberry picking last weekend.
Although it was a bit wet outside, we came home with over 4 pints of blueberries. We have made blueberry chocolate chip ice cream (okay so not the healthiest, but a fun option) and blueberry pancakes. And we have had fresh blueberries for breakfast most mornings. Want to try it for yourself? It’s super easy.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, mix 2.5-3 cups of fresh blueberries, 1/8 tsp of salt, and up to 1 cup of sugar (I don’t like it super sweet so will cut back on the sugar unless the blueberries are tart). Bring to boil, mixing frequently to dissolve sugar, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Puree in blender then stir in 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of whole milk, & 1 TBSP of fresh lemon juice. Let chill overnight in fridge and next morning pour into ice cream maker. We added mini chocolate chips in during the last 5 mins of ice cream maker time. Then pour into container and freeze for at least 2 hours. Here’s how ours looked:
Not into blueberries? Here are some other books about farm-to-table concepts for young children.
- The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by Diane Pritchard. Ages 4-8. Teaches young children about where our comes from before it reaches our table.
- To Market, to Market by Nikki McClure. Does have a lot of text so perhaps best suited to slightly older than preschool.
- The Beemanby Laurie Krebs. Ages 4-8. Introduction to the world of bees and honey.
- The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin. A charming story about how to appreciate “ugly” vegetables. While all their neighbors grow beautiful colorful flowers in their garden’s this Chinese family grows “ugly” and “strange” vegetables. But it turns out these vegetables make a delicious soup. The end of the book includes a recipe for making the soup along with descriptions of a variety of Chinese vegetables. E loves this book.
- Rosario’s Fig Tree by Charis Wahl and Luc Melanson. Cute story that teaches children about fig trees.
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Not about food but a beautifully illustrated book about a boy in the city who discovers some plants, takes care of them, and converts them into a beautiful city garden.
Do you have any recommendations for children’s book to encourage learning about healthy food or the farm-to-table process?