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Gregory the Terrible Eater Book Review

Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, a Reading Rainbow book about picky eating, healthy foods, and nutrition

Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, a Reading Rainbow book about picky eating, healthy foods, and nutrition

Story Summary

Gregory, a young goat, just won't eat the things that regular goats want to eat. He eats healthy food—and his parents are worried! Gregory the Terrible Eater is a tale about healthy eating and nutrition, and is a clever twist on the usual problem of parents whose picky eaters refuse to eat what is put in front of them.

Instead of eating "junk" food (cardboard boxes, old tires, and the like), Gregory wants to eat scrambled eggs, fruit, vegetables, and spaghetti. When Gregory's parents take him to Doctor Ram, Gregory explains "I eat what I like."

Gregory's parents gradually introduce the appropriate goat food into Gregory's diet, until Gregory concedes that he would like to have two pieces of waxed paper with his scrambled eggs and toast.

Parents will appreciate the way author Mitchell Sharmat treats the delicate subject of picky eating, with a wry twist of humor, and will recognize some of the ways that parents try to help their children to try new things.

Featured on the popular Public Broadcast System children's program Reading Rainbow, this book addresses the subject of picky eating more directly than any other children's story I have read, except perhaps D.W. the Picky Eater, by Marc Brown.

Many books address the subject of food by featuring appealing and colorful illustrations of nutritious foods, but this book is different, and I believe, unique in the children's-book universe. Because nutrition and healthy eating are of national importance among early childhood educators, this book makes its way to the forefront. Picky eating is a common concern for early childhood educators and parents of toddlers and preschoolers, which is why I believe this book holds its place among more polished children's publications.

Gregory the Terrible Eater is a short- to medium-length book with a moderate amount of text and dialogue. Young children will enjoy the silly concept of worried goat parents trying to get their picky son to eat the right things! This is an appropriate read-aloud book for a preschool group or a library children's story hour.

The illustrations by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey are simple line drawings filled with color.

Thematic Elements

  • Food
  • Nutrition
  • Picky eaters
  • Parents
  • Diet
  • Changing Eating Habits
  • Trying New Things
  • Overeating
Gregory the goat likes to eat healthy foods, not the foods regular goats eat!

Gregory the goat likes to eat healthy foods, not the foods regular goats eat!

Preschool Lesson Ideas

Gregory the Terrible Eater is popularly used by teachers for preschool-6th grade as part of a unit on nutrition and healthy eating. These lesson helps are geared to a preschool or kindergarten age.

Music and Movement

I encourage preschool and nursery teachers to use music and movement as part of their preschool story hour curriculum. Combining music and movement activities with reading times helps children prepare to participate and listen. By first engaging children in a few simple songs or a circle game, you help them to get use to taking direction and have their full attention when it is time to read.

Using one or two songs consistently over a 1-month or 2-month period (depending on how often your group meets) helps children to learn all the words to a song. This is especially useful if your preschool-aged students are English as a Second Language learners, or if your students don't sing with their parents at home. We often sing "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" and "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", because they have complimentary actions that are fun to do.

Sing The Good Food Song to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm".

You can make singing this song a visual/textual experience by including pictures of the food in the song. Show the pictures one at a time as you sing the song. Include the words of the song and the pictures in a file folder where you can use them over and over

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Tell the children to stand up, reach up high, touch the sky, turn around, touch the ground, sit back down, touch your eyes, touch your nose, zip your lips, and keep them closed!

Read Aloud

Show the children the front cover of the book. Make sure to hold the book in front you in such a way that the children can easily see. Sometimes it's helpful to hold the book up and a bit to the side.

Point to the pictures of food one at a time. Ask the children, what is this? Let them call out the answers. Show them the picture of Gregory. Ask what kind of animal is this? That's right, it's a goat!

Tell them in just a moment you are going to read them a story called Gregory, the Terrible Eater. Ask the children, Do you know what goats like to eat? Let some of the kids answer, then say That's right! Goats like to eat all kinds of things...even some things that people can't eat.

Read the story aloud, pausing after you read the words on each page to make sure the children can see the pictures. At the end of the story, ask the children what they ate for breakfast today.


If you are presenting this lesson as part of a library story hour, making a craft is optional. This topic lends itself to lots of different preschool crafts.

  • Food on a plate. Provide pictures of food from supermarket circulars or old magazine photos, and have children glue them to a paper plate. If children are older than 4, you may want to let them cut the photos themselves using safety scissors.
  • Healthy foods/junk foods. Take this idea to a new level by giving children paper plates with a line drawn down the middle with a marker. Write healthy on one side and junk on the other side. Have pictures of junk foods like donuts, cookies, and potato chips, and pictures of healthy foods, as above. Have kids glue their photos to the appropriate side of the plate.
  • Fruit and Vegetable prints. Use fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, broccoli, or peppers cut in interesting ways, and an apple cut in half so that the core shows in a star shape. Dip the vegetables and fruits in tempera paints to make prints.
  • V is for Veggie, C is for Carrot, etc. If your preschool is more focused on learning the alphabet and reading readiness, provide children with pictures of food, and show them how to write the appropriate letter of the alphabet that corresponds to the food.
  • Pasta pictures. Use small-sized pasta to make P is for Pasta pictures. Glue the pasta onto a stiff sheet of cardstock that you have printed a large letter "P" onto. Write "P is for Pasta" on the picture.
  • Guess the food in my picnic basket game. You could prepare laminated pictures or use an actual picnic basket with plastic play food. Play a guessing game with the children. Say "In my picnic basket I have some fruit. It is a red, and it is a berry. What kind of food is it?" Give the children a moment to guess, then show them a strawberry.

Gregory the Terrible Eater is an appropriate for a younger preschool audience, ages 3 and up, as a read-aloud story.

As a read-alone story book, this book is appropriate for the average end-of-year first grade reader, where reading alone begins in first grade.

As a supplement to units on math, science, nutrition, and health, this book can be used for grades K-6.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert


Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on May 19, 2008:

Thank you! We love this book too.

In The Doghouse from California on May 19, 2008:

Another great Hub! This book was one of my son's favorites, as he shares the name with dear Gregory!

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