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