I still read to Big Sister and Middle Sister, even though they resist this from time to time. I just can't quite give up on our time spent reading and talking about books together. Part of it is the teacher in me. It is still an opportunity to make sure they are reading some books that I want them to be exposed to. And, more recently we have been discovering non-fiction titles in our read aloud time.
Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food by Charles Wilson and Eric Schlosser is the junior edition of Fast Food Nation. There are a lot of interesting topics we discussed while reading this book.
- how workers are treated by employers. Many of the meat packing companies don't want to pay their workers benefits and have them doing jobs in unsafe conditions.
- the low salary of these same workers. IBP, a meat packing company very close to us, was the first company to cut corners by paying their workers low wages. It's not something to be proud of.
- the treatment of animals. As a farm girl, my parents raised animals knowing that some of them (maybe all of them) would be killed to provide food for people. That doesn't feel the same as raising animals by the thousands and then killing them in cruel ways.
- Feeding chickens so much food that they bulk up and are unable to walk because of their size, letting them live for just 35 days until their scheduled execution - doesn't seem like the way animals should be treated.
- the fast food we eat at restaurants is bought from these meat packing places and from the chicken slaughterhouses. Not only is the food unhealthy, it is also purchased from companies who don't seem very ethical.
- Fast food is not a very nutritious or healthy diet choice. There is a chapter about gastric bypass surgery and the number of American youth who are overweight.
The girls still talk about this book a few months later. Middle Sister hasn't eaten at McDonald's since.
I gave this book to a fifth grade student, a boy who loves non-fiction. He promptly told a few friends about it. Last week one of the fifth grade teachers was recommended this book by her students, and stayed up late reading Chew On This. I never predicted this would be a word of mouth book that would really take off, but it is.