There are so many books about food! I could go on and on with selections and recommendations but these are a few of my favorites. Let me know your favorite and I’ll add the book to this list.
Clicking on a book cover will help you purchase the book from Bookshop.org. If there is no link, the book can be found at your favorite public library or used bookseller.
Around the Table that Grandad Built
written by Melanie Heuiser Hill
illustrated by Jamie Kim
Candlewick Press, 2016
Let’s start off this roundup of food books with a family celebration of working together to prepare an awesome meal. As the family-you-gather-around-you works, eats, and gives thanks around the table made by Grandad, we can all reflect on the tables in our lives and how we celebrate.
written by Linda Sue Park
illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
Clarion Books, 2005
A young and hungry child helps her mom make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing the ingredients, setting the table, and then eating a meal she loves. Rhyming text and well-informed illustrations create a charming book that is many times readable.
Blueberries for Sal
written and illustrated by
Viking Books for Young Readers, 1948
When thinking about a food book classic, Blueberries for Sal remains a relevant book more than 80 years after it was published. Where does food come from? Blueberries can be foraged in the wild from bushes! Go, Sal!
Chef Roy Choi and
the Street Food Remix
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
and June Jo Lee
illustrated by Man One
Readers to Eaters, 2017
I was astounded when I first read this book. The inspiring story of a chef invigorating his neighborhood with inventive food, taking the food to the people, and learning about his family background … it’s a must-read. I think it works well for ages 8 and up. The illustrations by Man One are outstanding, with lots of appeal for children and adults. (It won lots of awards.)
The Dinner That Cooked Itself
written by J.C. Hsyu
illustrated by Kenard Pak
Flying Eye Books, 2014
This is one delicious dinner! The spare but effective storytelling, the gorgeous artwork (I am a dedicated fan of Mr. Pak’s art), and the folktale form tell us about Tuan, a hardworking bachelor who would love to end his loneliness by finding a wife. Not even the matchmaker has been able to help him. But then Tuan’s kindness is rewarded.
Each Peach Pear Plum
written by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Viking Books for Young Readers, 1979
For years, I have given this as a new baby gift. It is so delightful in rhyming text, looking closely at illustrations to find specific items named, and a story cleverly inviting the page turn. Hardcovers can be found at used bookstores. There’s a board book version, but I think this book works well beyond the baby and toddler age. I still read my copy!
Eating the Alphabet:
Fruits & Vegetables A to Z
written and illustrated by Lois Lowry
Harcourt Brace, 1989
This is another book I often give to young families. Am I responsible for their subsequent love of fruits and vegetables? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s Lois Ehlert’s mighty appealing illustrations that make this food group irresistible. Also available as a board book.
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea
Transformed a Neighborhood
written by Tony Hillery
illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Simon & Schuster, 2020
The author, Tony Hillery, founded Harlem Grown, a nonprofit urban farm that has become a model for urban farming across the country. This is the story of how he and a group of neighborhood kids cleaned up an abandoned lot across from Harlem’s PS 175 and planted vegetables that feed the community. Inspiring. And Jessie Hartland’s friendly illustrations help me believe everyone should do this!
How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?
The Story of Food
written by Christ Butterworth
illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti
Candlewick Press, 2011
The sandwich, the carrots and celery, the chocolate chip cookies … where do they come from? A great book to introduce food and nutrition at home and in school. I’ll let Bob Stallman, the president of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture have his say: “A great book that unpeels a whole new world of understanding for kids who want to know more about their food. The book provides kids step-by-step illustrations about how farmers and others do their part to get food from the farm to their lunchboxes.”
How Martha Saved Her Parents
from Green Beans
written by David LaRochelle
illustrated by Mark Fearing
Dial Books, 2013
This book is clever, scary, but mostly funny. Martha hates green beans. (I love green beans.) She finds ways to avoid eating them. But when a gang of mean green beans invades her home and kidnaps her parents, Martha has to rely on her wits to save them. Great materials on the author’s website for classroom (or home) use. And, oh, the final pages in the book!
written by Natasha Wing
illustrated by Robert Casilla
I am a big fan of Robert Casilla’s art. This book captured by heart because it’s a story about puzzle-solving. Pablo’s assignment is to bring a food representing his family to International Day at school. But his Mom’s Mexican and his Dad is Jewish. How does he resolve that? The book title says it all. My mouth is watering.
Rah, Rah, Radishes! a Vegetable Chant
written and photographed
by April Pulley Sayre
Beach Lane Books, 2011
Rah, rah, radishes, red and white!
Carrots are calling. Take a bite!
Oh boy, bok choy, Brussels sprout.
Broccoli! Cauliflower! Shout it out!
A joyous celebration of vegetables, photographed in all their delicious glory.
Things We Eat
edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Pomelo Books, 2022
Child-lovable poetry from some of the best children’s poets in this A to Z book about a diverse selection of food including avocados, bagels, cookies, dumplings, fish, grapes, and kimchi. A fun mentor text for trying out your own poems. The poems will make your mouth water!
Yasmin the Chef
written by Saadia Faruqi
illustrated by Hatem Aly
Picture Window Books/Capstone, 2019
There are 24 books in this adorable beginning reader series about Yasmin, who can be anything! In this story, she wants to have a party but she doesn’t want to make the spicy Pakistani American food she eats all the time. She wants to come up with something different. The characters in these books are relatable for all kids and the illustrations are so appealing. I love learning more about Yasmin’s Muslim family.
What an honor to have one of my books included on this list, Vicki! You’ve included several of my favorites, such as EACH PEACH PLUM PEAR (I still read this one myself, too!), and EATING THE ALPHABET. Another of my ALL TIME favorites is HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE AND SEE THE WORLD by Marjorie Priceman. Informative, funny, fantastic illustrations, and a recipe for apple pie to boot! A writing instructor once shared it with my class as an example of an outstanding picture book, and I couldn’t agree more!
Martha is one of my favorite characters in children’s lit, not the least because I consider her to be named after my grandmother. I’ll add Marjorie Priceman’s book, David. I agree that it belongs on the list!