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What’s Cooking?

What’s Cooking?

Children’s books are a fun and exciting way to teach children about food.  Whether it’s whipping up some pretend meals, encouraging kids to try new foods, building an appreciation for different for traditions or learning where food comes from or respecting food, and the people who grow or cook it, books can be helpful tools to foster attitudes of curiosity, exploration, and appreciation.  Here are 16 excellent children’s books about food for kids. 

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Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke ( Ages 2-5)

When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn’t notice. As Mama and Baby wend their way through the stalls, cheeky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, two pieces of coconut . . .

until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy! Poor Baby, she thinks, he must be very hungry by now! 

 

The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story by Joseph Buchac  (Ages 3-5) 

Long ago, the first man and woman quarreled. The woman left in anger, but the Sun sent tempting berries to Earth to slow the wife’s retreat. Luminous paintings perfectly complement this simple, lyrical text. 

 

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Ages 3-6)

Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.

 

Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.

 

Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.

 

Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.

 

What Can You Do with a Paleta? by Carmen Tafolla (Ages 3-7)

 

 

Discover the joys of a paleta–the traditional Mexican popsicle treat sold from the wagon with the tinkly bell that brings children running from every direction. Create a masterpiece, make tough choices (strawberry or coconut?), or cool off on a warm summer’s day–there’s so much to do with a paleta.

 

Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors  by Roseanne Greenfield Thong ( Ages 4-7)

Green is a chile pepper, spicy and hot.
Green is cilantro inside our pot.

 

In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the colors found in every child’s day!

 

Thank You, Omu!  by Oge Mora (Ages 4-8)

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?

 

Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park (Ages 4-7)

 

 

Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. Even young readers who aren’t familiar with the dish will recognize the pride that comes from helping Mama, the fun of mixing ingredients together in a bowl, and the pleasure of sharing delicious food. Includes the author’s own recipe.

 

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto ( Ages 4-8)

 

 

Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria’s favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring . . .

 

This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.

 

Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed (Ages 4-8)

 

 

Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?

 

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules (Ages 4-8)

 

 

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Tuyet is excited about the holiday and the vacation from school. There’s just one problem: her Vietnamese American family is having duck for Thanksgiving dinner – not turkey! Nobody has duck for Thanksgiving – what will her teacher and the other kids think? To her surprise, Tuyet enjoys her yummy thanksgiving dinner anyhow – and an even bigger surprise is waiting for her at school on Monday. Dinners from roast beef to lamb to enchiladas adorned the Thanksgiving tables of her classmates, but they all had something in common – family! Kids from families with different traditions will enjoy this warm story about “the right way” to celebrate an American holiday.

 

Bread Bread Bread by Ann Morris (Ages 4-8)

 

 

Bread is a food enjoyed by people in all parts of the world. Its many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors are as varied as the people who eat it. This photographic round-the-world tour provides a glimpse into the rich variety of world cultures, as well as an informative look at an important food that everyone agrees is as necessary as water and air.

 

Jah’s Vegan Planet by Ja’Lon Wright (Ages 4-8)

 

 

What if the world never ate animals? What if you grew up on a planet where everyone was vegan? Well, take a trip with Jah on his Vegan Planet and discover what happens when he visits Meatie’s World for the first time.

 

Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards (Ages 5-6)

 

 

Giovanni’s friends are coming over for Sunday dinner, and his grandmother is serving rice and beans. Giovanni is embarrassed he does not like ‘rice and rocks’ and worries his friends will think the traditional Jamaican dish is weird. But his favorite Auntie comes to the rescue. She and Giovanni’s pet parrot, Jasper, take him on a magical journey across the globe, visiting places where people eat rice and rocks. This exciting story celebrates the varied traditions of every culture while also highlighting the delicious similarities that bring us all together.

 

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (Ages 5-7)

 

 

Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama’s assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora’s head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.

 

With Mama’s help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won’t notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot-carefully– while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.

 

Hot, Hot, Roti for Dada-ji by Farhana Zia (Ages 5-8)

 

 

Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother’s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world’s best stories.

 

When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first, he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti.

 

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles (Ages 5-9)

 

 

Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from.

 

Happy Reading!

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