Fabulous Food

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.

Bee-bim Bop

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
Robert McCloskey
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!

Jalapeño Bagels

writ­ten by Natasha Wing
illus­trat­ed by Robert Casil­la
Atheneum, 1996

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.

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David LaRochelle
1 year ago

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!