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Some Good Books for Vegan Children
There are a handful of books I've come across that are good reads for young vegan (or vegetarian) children.
Certainly, there are many other books that more subtly reflect vegan values, but these are the books I've found that are especially helpful to read with children to help reinforce the vegan lifestyle.
Below are brief descriptions of these books, as well as a place for readers to add their own recommendations.
Eating the Alphabet
For the youngest readers, there's Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert.
It's a colorful alphabet book entirely of fruits and veggies, available both in hardcover and paperback formats.
Alphabet books are always good for young children, and reading this one is a good opportunity to familiarize kids with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
To Market, To Market
My older son was two when we got our first vegan-themed book, To Market, To Market by Anne Miranda. It's a simple, funny, rhyming story about a woman who buys all kinds of live animals from the market. Presumably, she is planning to eat them, but what happens is that her house becomes messy and chaotic - you know, because she's got all these farm animals roaming around!
Exasperated, the woman goes back to the market with the animals, and they buy ingredients for vegetable soup, which they all enjoy together. The illustrations are really cool, combining drawings with photographs in the images.
Making Minestrone by Stella Blackstone is a very simple story, written in rhyming language, about a group of kids who make soup together. The children go to the garden to pick a variety vegetables.
Each page features a different vegetable, along with various farm animals that wander into the garden. Nothing is overtly stated, but it is clear that the children and the animals adore each other and that the animals are not food. The kids then prepare their minestrone soup and enjoy it together, with the animals hanging around nearby.
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Victor, the Vegetarian
Victor the Vegetarian by Radha Vignola has a much stronger storyline than the above books, and it doesn't rhyme.
As an adult, I found writing to be rather poor. Both my sons, however, LOVED the book and we've read it many, many times. I think they appreciated the simplicity and identified with the main character.
This book encouraged a good deal of discussion about what it means to be vegan. It is clear from the story - which uses the words "die" and "kill" - that animals are killed for their meat, so it is definitely less innocent than the books I've already mentioned. But it isn't gruesome in tone or description, making it an appropriate story for kids around 2-6 years old.
Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon
Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass is a more complicated story with colorful pictures.
It has some rather violent imagery with swords and blood. The drawings are cartoon-style, but I was still taken aback when I first saw the pictures.
The plot resolves with vegetarians and meat-eaters living peacefully together, respecting each other's right to choose their own lifestyles.
This can be purchased as the book by itself or with a bendy-style Herb the Vegetarian Dragon toy.
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey (of Captain Underpants fame) is a funny, rhyming story (based on the cadence of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) about saving turkeys from being killed for Thanksgiving dinners. Fun!
That's Why We Don't Eat Animals
The final book I'll talk about is That's Why We Don't Eat Animals by Ruby Roth.
The illustrations of the animals are cute and funny, which is good because it makes it easier to deal with the difficult content. This is a nonfiction book that compares and contrasts how animals naturally live (or would like to live) with how animals are treated on factory farms. It talks about how our eating choices affect the environment and stresses that we have choices not afforded to the animals.
My sons were shocked and saddened to see the images of animals in tiny cages, and it powerfully brought home to them the reasons why we don't eat animals.
This book is certainly a good introduction to factory farming; I would much rather expose my sons to cartoon images than photographs at this point! It is definitely something for somewhat older children, about 6-12 years old.
I think this book is an excellent tool for laying the groundwork for the increasingly difficult and complicated discussions I will have with my sons over the years about why we don't eat animals.