When Solomon and Celia were little, our favorite part of the day was reading stories before bedtime. I didn’t have endless patience when it came to dressing up dolls or playing with trains, but cuddling up with my children and our favorite books was something I never wanted to miss.

Reading together not only helps our children develop a love of books and strengthens special bonds between parents and children, but can also help us share our values and learn something together in an easily “digestible” way.

There are many exceptional children’s books whose stories center around food. Most of us are familiar with Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs & Ham and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but there are many more books out there to discover. With input from many parents, I’ve put together a list of some favorites. Many of the stories can be divided into several categories: picky eaters/healthy eaters; gardening and growing food; table manners; foods from around the world; and special diets, including food allergies and vegetarian. I hope you’ll have a chance to enjoy some of these stories, and please leave a comment suggesting your children’s favorite books about food, as I know I’ve missed many great ones.

Picky Eaters/Healthy Eating
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban (Frances only wants bread and jam, until that’s all she can have!)

Oliver’s Fruit Salad by Vivian French and Alison Bartlett (Oliver discovers that eating fruit salad is more appealing when he helps make it.)  Ages 4 – 8

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace (A little pea has to eat candy before he can have any spinach.) Baby – Preschool

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman and Marla Frazee (A crew of picky eaters drives their mom crazy until they make a birthday meal for her.)  Ages 4 – 8

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child (Charlie helps Lola learn to love tomatoes using some brotherly trickery.) Ages 4 – 8

Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey (A goat wants to eat human food, not healthy goat food like tires and cans).  Ages 4 – 8

Growing Food/Gardening
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin (Chinese-American girl is disappointed that they grow ugly Chinese vegetables in their garden until her mom makes a delicious soup that all the neighbors want to try.) Ages 4 – 8

Farmer’s Market/Dia de Mercado by Carmen Parks and Edward Martinez  (A little girl discovers a magical, delicious world in her backyard.) Ages 4 – 8

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert (Covers the whole growing process, from seed to soup pot, for young readers) Ages 4 – 8

Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas (Poor farmer! Pesky bunnies eat his crop!)  Ages 3 – 7

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry (Squirrel teaches Groundhog how to make his own garden instead of stealing from others’.) Ages 4 – 8

Table Manners
How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (Silly dinos learn about table manners.) Ages 4 – 8

What you Never Knew about Fingers, Forks and Chopsticks by Patricia Lauber and John Manders  (A funny tour of the history of dinnerware.) Ages 6 and up

Food and International Culture
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say (A love story celebrating the merging of food traditions between an American sailor and a Japanese woman.) Ages 4 – 8

World Snacks Board books by Amy Wilson Sanger including First Book of Sushi, Yum Yum Dim Sum, Mangia, Mangia, Hola Jalepeno, A Little Bit of Soul Food, Let’s Nosh, and Chaat and Sweets. (Bouncy rhyming introductions to favorite foods from around the world)

Special Diets/Allergies
Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies by Nicole Smith and Maggie Nichols  (Allie has a peanut allergy and her friends try to understand.) Ages 4 – 8

Herb the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter (The story of the only vegetarian dragon in a land full of carnivores.)  Ages 4 – 8

A few more miscellaneous food books
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco (Grandmother helps her granddaughter overcome fear of storm with a recipe for Thunder Cake).  Ages 4 – 8

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett (A delightful combination of comestibles and meteorology) Ages 4 – 8

Recipe: Dinosaur Trees (a.k.a. Steamed Broccoli Tossed with Olive Oil and Grated Parmesan Cheese)

Make dinnertime fun with healthy "Dinosaur Trees."

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. broccoli, cut into spears
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

    Steam the broccoli spears until tender, 7 - 10 minutes. Drain the broccoli and toss it immediately with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 - 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese. (Prop up trees in mashed potatoes for your little dinosaurs, if desired.)

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  • Nicole

    Lovely post. You mentioned of my favorites: How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food. My 4yo loves it.

  • http://www.eatdinner.org Grace @eatdinner

    This is a great list with many of my personal favorites (Ugly Vegetables, How my Parents Learned to Eat). Another great one by Lois Ehlert is Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z. Fun, colorful, and you might find some new veggies to try!

  • http://www.lakebreeze.org DawnK

    My mom read the Frances books to me, when I was little (and I’m 51!) I read them to my kids, too. Also, I loved “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert, and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, when my kids were little.

    “June 29, 1999″ is a book by David Wiesner, that features giant flying vegetables with charming artwork to boot. Also, Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” is about trying something new.

  • Kirsten

    Thanks for the post! my son has nut allergies so I will definitely check out Allie the Allergic Elephant. One of our most beloved books is Jamberry by Bruce Degen: http://www.amazon.com/Jamberry-Bruce-Degen/dp/0694006513

  • christie

    In the miscellaneous category: Gladys Goes Out to Lunch, by Derek Anderson. Gladys is a gorilla and follows the delicious scent of bananas on a trip all around town as her zookeeper friends try to get her back home. Hilarity ensues! :)

  • http://savorysweetlife.com alice

    What an awesome list of books! I’m not familiar with most of them and am excited to check them out from the library!

  • Jessica

    I love reading my daughters “The Bake Shop Ghost”. It is about a sweet bakery with a very special cook. The long lists of delicious cakes will leave your mouthwatering. It is such a favorite!

  • Marilee Kinsella

    Nice List. My daughter’s favorite was “Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice,” by Sylvia Rosa-Casanova. A lovely book about sharing and preparing food for loved ones.

  • http://www.harriswholehealth.com/ Cheryl Harris

    A great book for emotional eating for kids is \Full Mouse, Empty Mouse\ by Dina Zeckhausen. A lot of my clients also like \Starting School with a Food Allergy\ by local DC mom Christina Black.

  • http://hapamama.com Grace @ HapaMama

    I love “The Ugly Vegetables”, and “How My Parents Learned to Eat” is a great choice for multicultural families.

    Another great recommendation for healthy eating is “The Gulps” by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Marc Brown. It’s a cute story of a family breaking the fast food habit, and learning how to eat veggies and be physically active.

  • http://blog.gifts.com/ Laura

    My two favorites from childhood were \Blueberries for Sal\ and \In the Night Kitchen\ by the one and only Maurice Sendak,

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