Books are a fun and exciting way to teach children about food. There are many wonderful books that illustrate a variety of topics such as eating right, identifying foods, where food comes from, respecting food and the people who grow or cook it, and other food-related topics. Here are some of my favorite kid's books about food written for ages infant through pre-teen.
Ages Birth Through Preschool
- Today is Monday by Eric Carle (Ages 1 to 6) Buy from Amazon: String beans, spaghetti, roast beef, fresh fish, chicken and ice cream are the delicious fare during the week in this popular children's song. Until Sunday. Then, all the world's children are invited to come together and share in the meal. Celebrated artist Eric Carle brings new energy to these much-loved verses as lively animals parade across the page, munching on favorite dishes, and introducing young readers to the names of the days of the week. Both art and song invite children to join in the procession and sing along. (From the publisher.)
- I Eat Vegetables! (Buy from Amazon) and I Eat Fruit! (Buy from Amazon) by Hannah Tofts (Ages 1 to 5): A mixture of art, photography, and large, clear type introduces children to fruits and vegetables. Printed on a heavy-duty card and hand-stitched to ensure maximum longevity, these stunning books go far beyond just naming familiar foods. Each spread shows the name of the food alongside a clear photograph against a dramatic painted background. Upon opening the full-page foldout to look inside the fruit or vegetable, kids can see which need to be peeled before eating and which have seeds, stones, pits, or other interesting things inside. (From the publisher.)
- Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven (Ages 1 to 6) Buy from Amazon: Winter's gray chill has set in and everyone misses the sun—especially the baker. So she decides to bring some warmth to the town by making a sun bread. And as the bread bakes, rising hot and delicious, everyone comes out to share in its goodness. Everyone, including the sun itself. With a lilting, rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and a recipe for baking your own sun bread, this tasty treat from the illustrator of the best-selling Abuela is just right for all ages to enjoy. (From the publisher.)
- Walter the Baker by Eric Carle (Ages 3 to 7) Buy from Amazon: An engaging tale from one of America's most beloved artists and storytellers. When the Duke notices that Walter the baker has substituted water for milk in his sweet rolls, he presents Walter with a challenge: create from one piece of dough a roll the sun can shine through three times, or be banished from the Duchy. Full color. (From the publisher.)
- Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle (Ages 4 to 8) Buy from Amazon: The barnyard rooster crows and Jack wakes up – hungry, of course! What does he want for breakfast? A big pancake! But first, Jack's mother needs flour from the mill, an egg from the black hen, milk from the spotted cow, butter churned from fresh cream, and firewood for the stove. Will Jack ever get his pancake? With his trademark vibrant collage illustrations and a lively text, Eric Carle has created a mouthwatering tale for young readers.(From the publisher.)
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judith Barrett (Ages 4 to 8) Buy from Amazon: The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers. Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food. The town was a mess and the people feared for their lives. Something had to be done and in a hurry. (From the publisher.)
- Artichoke Boy by Scott Mickelson (Ages 4-8) Buy from Amazon: This is a wonderfully bizarre story about a little boy who loves artichokes. Your child may not know what an artichoke is (and I'm not sure this story will help) but they will be delighted by silly pictures of a boy with artichoke elbows and artichoke hair and takes baths with artichokes. (From the publisher.)
- Hot Potato: Mealtime Rhymes by Neil Philip (Ages 4 to 8) Buy from Amazon: This feast of poetry will satisfy even the pickiest of readers. Neil Philip's joyous celebration of the table includes classic and contemporary selections from around the world, featuring poets like Lewis Carroll, Douglas Florian, Mary Ann Hoberman, Christina Rossetti, and A. A. Milne. Claire Henley's mouth-watering illustrations make this delicious book perfect for sharing at mealtime, or anytime. (From the publisher.)
- Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (Ages 4 to 8) Buy from Amazon: Deep in the woods in an old white cabin, three friends make their pumpkin soup the same way every day. The Cat slices up the pumpkin, the Squirrel stirs in the water, and the Duck tips in just enough salt. But one day the Duck wants to stir instead, and then there is a horrible squabble, and he leaves the cabin in a huff. It isn't long before the Cat and the Squirrel start to worry about him and begin a search for their friend. Rendered in pictures richly evoking autumn, Helen Cooper's delightful story will resonate for any child who has known the difficulties that come with friendship. Included at the end is a recipe for delicious pumpkin soup. (From the publisher.)
- Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Ages 5 to 8) Buy from Amazon: Dr. Seuss turns 50 simple words into magic in this time-honored classic. Sam-I-am won't give up! He keeps trying to get the grumpy grown-up in the story to taste green eggs and ham. No matter how Sam-I-am presents the green eggs and ham (in a box, with a fox, in the rain, on a train), the curmudgeon refuses to try them. Finally, Sam-I-am's pesky persistence pays off. A crowd of open-mouthed onlookers watches in suspense as the old grouch takes a bite. And?...SAY! The old sourpuss's face is wreathed in smiles as he gratefully acknowledges, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-am!" - (Barnes & Noble)
- Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban (Ages 5 to 8) Buy from Amazon: Frances, one of the children's best-loved characters for over 30 years, now springs to life even more in Bread and Jam for Frances, beautifully re-illustrated in sparkling full color by Lillian Hoban. In this memorable story, Frances decides that bread and jam are all she wants to eat, and her understanding parents grant her wish at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snack time. Can there ever be too much bread and jam? (From the publisher.)
- Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges (Ages 5 to 8) Buy from Amazon: The story of the industrious Little Red Hen is not a new one, but when this particular hen spies a can of tomato sauce in her cupboard and decides to make a pizza, the familiar tale takes on a fresh new twist. Kids will love following along as the hen, with no help from her friends the duck, the dog, and the cat goes through the steps of making a pizza-shopping for supplies, making the dough, and adding the toppings. But despite their initial resistance, the hen's friends come through in the end and help out in a refreshing and surprising way. (From the publisher.)
- Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert (Ages 5 to 8) Buy from Amazon: While teaching upper- and lowercase letters to preschoolers, Ehlert introduces fruits and vegetables from around the world. A glossary at the end provides interesting facts about each food. - from the publisher. Caldecott honor book winning illustrator. (From the publisher.)
- Let’s Eat: What Children Eat Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer (Ages 5 to 9) Buy from Amazon: This beautifully designed book describes the lives of five children from South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, India, and France and their relationship with family and food. Artful photographs capture the joy and activities of the children, their place in the family, their involvement in the food gathering and cooking process, and the natural settings in which they live.
Each chapter also discusses a special day and its food, for example, a wedding celebration in South Africa and a patron saint's fiesta in Mexico. Children reading this book or having it read to them will easily make comparisons between these children's lives and cultures and their own. This lovely introduction to the world at large and a child's intimate connections with his particular world will intrigue children with both the differences and the similarities between their world and those of the other children.
Events totally strange to an American child, such as a Buddhist priest visiting a Thai house to collect breakfast, are presented as entirely normal and even a treat for the Thai child. The Mexican child happily feeds and herds the sheep while the African child reluctantly weeds — she would rather be cooking! At book's end, readers are invited to make a recipe from each country but warned to ask an adult for help. (From Elisabeth Greenberg, Children's Literature.)
- The Mighty Asparagus by Vladimir Radunsky (Ages 5 to 9) Buy from Amazon: Long ago in Italy, a mighty asparagus grew smack-dab in front of the king's castle. Was the king happy about it? No. The asparagus had to go. But how does a king reason with an asparagus of such stature? With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Vladimir Radunsky tells the uproarious tale of an almost immovable vegetable. Drawing on Italian Renaissance art, the esteemed artist creates a breathtaking magical kingdom, where it's easy to imagine that such an asparagus existed. His artwork is as gorgeous as it is funny. Although the old masters may turn over in their graves, readers of all ages will clamor for more of The Mighty Asparagus. (From the publisher.)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Ages 8 to 12) Buy from Amazon: Willy Wonka's Famous Chocolate Factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside ... and what Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, and Charlie Bucket find is even wilder than any of the wild rumors they've heard! (From the publisher.)
- Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech (Ages 8 to 12) Buy from Amazon: Twelve-year-old Rosie and her best friend, Bailey, don't always get along, that's true. But Granny Torrelli seems to know just how to make things right again with her warm words and family recipes. She understands from experience that life's twists and turns can't rattle the unique bond between two lifelong pals. Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech cooks up a delightfully tender novel, filled with homemade dishes and secret recipes. It's easy to remember what's important about love, life, and friendship while Granny Torrelli makes soup. (From the publisher.)
- Sushi for Kids: An Introduction to Japan’s Favorite Food by Kaoru Ono (Ages 9 to 12) Buy from Amazon: Healthy and fun, sushi is a favorite food among Japanese children. Over 40,000 copies of Sushi for Kids have been sold in Japan, and this popular children's book is now available in English. Celebrated writer and illustrator Kaoru Ono dazzles children with her illustrations as she opens their eyes to the wonderful world of sushi. Children will learn about the fish used for sushi, its history, and how to prepare it. (From the publisher.)
- Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals from A to Z by Sallie O’Donnell (Ages 9 to 12) Buy from Amazon: Animals, Vegetables, And Minerals - From A To Z links an animal and a nutritional concept in the form of a four-line verse to each letter of the alphabet. The humorous alliterative verses enhanced by the colorful witty illustrations make learning about a healthy lifestyle fun for kids and delightful for parents to read to them. In view of the national concern about childhood obesity, this book is not only educational but particularly timely. (From the publisher.)
- The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer by Ann Arnold (Ages 9 to 12) Buy from Amazon: In 1837, when Alexis Soyer was just twenty-five years old, he became head chef at the exclusive Reform Club in London on the condition that he be allowed to participate in the design of the kitchen. The result was a showplace filled with Soyer's clever inventions, such as the drainer and the multi-egg poacher, and it became the most talked about the kitchen in all of Europe.
Soyer quickly established himself as a star, but for all his flamboyance he was practical and large-hearted, cooking for the starving populace as well as the aristocracy, opening soup kitchens during the Irish potato famine, and teaching the army how to feed itself in the Crimean War.
Filled with biographical detail and lively illustrations, The Adventurous Chef tells the story of a remarkable man who was determined to revolutionize the culinary world and who remains one of the greatest cooks of the nineteenth century. (From the publisher.)