CHILDREN’S FOOD LITERATURE

From children’s picture books to young adult lit, there is no shortage of great literature that connects food, culture and the motivation to explore our diverse world.

 

FICTION

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
by Marjorie Priceman

An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don't forget to go apple picking in Vermont! (K-3)

Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice
by Sylvia Rosa-Casanova

Mama Provi and her granddaughter Lucy live in the same tall apartment building - Mama Provi on the first floor, Lucy on the eighth. When Lucy has the chicken pox and can't come down to visit, Mama Provi decides to make a trip upstairs with a big pot of her tasty arroz con pollo. But on her way up the seven flights of stairs, she meets a neighbor on every floor. On each floor, the chicken and rice are joined by Mrs. Landers's crusty white bread, Señor Rivera's frijoles negros, Mrs. Woo's tea, and more. (K-3)

Saturday Sancocho
by Leyla Torres

Bright cheerful illustrations capturing the spirit of the marketplace and a recipe for delicious chicken sancocho highlight the tale of Maria Lili and her grandparents and the special Saturday when they run out of everything but eggs. (K-3)

The Sandwich Swap
by Her Majesty Queen Raina Al Abdullah

Lily and Salma are best friends. They like doing all the same things, and they always eat lunch together. Lily eats peanut butter and Salma eats hummus-but what's that between friends? It turns out, a lot. Before they know it, a food fight breaks out. Can Lily and Salma put aside their differences? Or will a sandwich come between them? (PK-2)
*Also recommended: The Sandwich Swap Video (5:57)

Jalapeño Bagels
by Natasha Wing

While trying to decide what to take for his school's International Day, Pablo helps his Mexican mother and Jewish father at their bakery and discovers a food that represents both his parents' backgrounds. (K-3)

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji
by F Zia and Ken Min

Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy. A fun way for children to learn about the cultural traditions and foods of India to be enjoyed by the whole family. (K-2)

Little Cliff and the Porch People
by Clifton L. Taulbert

Sent to buy special butter for Mama Pearl's candied sweet potatoes and told to get back lickety-split, Little Cliff is delayed by all his neighbors when they want to contribute their own ingredients. (K-3)

Applesauce Season
by Candace Ransom

When the first apples of the season--Ida Red and Paula Red, Twenty Ounce, McIntosh, and Ginger Gold--show up in the city markets, it's time to take out the big pot and make applesauce. A lovingly recounted description of a family's applesauce-making ritual describes the buying, peeling, cooking and stirring; the wait for the sauce to cool and the first taste. (K-2)

Dumpling Soup
by Jama Kim Rattigan

Marisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year. But she worries if anyone will eat her funny-looking dumplings. Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures. (K-3)

One Green Apple
by Eve Bunting

Farah feels alone, even when surrounded by her classmates. She listens and nods but doesn’t speak. It’s hard being the new kid in school, especially when you’re from another country and don’t know the language. Then, on a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah discovers there are lots of things that sound the same as they did at home, from dogs crunching their food to the ripple of friendly laughter. As she helps the class make apple cider, Farah connects with the other students and begins to feel that she belongs. (K-3)

Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas
by Gail Piernas-Davenport

Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no--it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors.

Bee-bim Bop!
by Linda Sue Park

Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped, and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. (PK-3)

Apple Pie 4th of July
by Janet Wong

Shocked that her parents are cooking Chinese food to sell in the family store on an all-American holiday, a feisty Chinese American girl tries to tell her mother and father how things really are. But as the parade passes by and fireworks light the sky, she learns a surprising lesson. (K-3)

I love Saturdays and Domingos
by Alma Flor Ada

Saturdays and Sundays are very special days for the child in this story. On Saturdays, she visits Grandma and Grandpa, who come from a European-American background, and on Sundays -- los domingos -- she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, who are Mexican-American. While the two sets of grandparents are different in many ways, they also have a great deal in common -- in particular, their love for their granddaughter. (K-3)

Round is a Tortilla
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

In this lively picture book, children discover a world of shapes all around them: rectangles are ice-cream carts and stone metates, triangles are slices of watermelon and quesadillas. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the shapes found in every child's day! (PreK-K)

Thank you, Omu!
by Oge Mora

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? (K-3)

Thunder Cake
by Patricia Pollacco

A loud clap of thunder booms, and rattles the windows of Grandma's old farmhouse. "This is Thunder Cake baking weather," calls Grandma, as she and her granddaughter hurry to gather the ingredients around the farm. A real Thunder Cake must reach the oven before the storm arrives. But the list of ingredients is long and not easy to find . . . and the storm is coming closer all the time! (K-3)

Pop Pop and Me and a Recipe
by Irene Smalls

Pop Pop and Me and A Recipe celebrates the love between a grandson and his grandfather. Join Pop Pop and his grandson as they beat, batter and bond baking the young boy’s favorite Lemon Bar Cake. With full color lovingly painted step by step instructions and a full ingredient list this book is a sweet recipe for the hearts of Lemon cake eaters young and old. (PreK-2)

Pre-teen and Teen

Kimchi & Calamari
by Rose Kent

Kimchi and calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, and it's exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn't an adopted Korean drummer—comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given: (1) his face in the mirror, (2) his proud Italian family. (4th-7th)

Seedfolks
by Paul Fleischman

A Vietnamese girl plants six lima beans in a Cleveland vacant lot. Looking down on the immigrant-filled neighborhood, a Romanian woman watches suspiciously. A school janitor gets involved, then a Guatemalan family. Then muscle-bound Curtis, trying to win back Lateesha. Pregnant Maricela. Amir from India. A sense of community sprouts and spreads. (6th-12th)

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Bliss (Bliss Bakery Trilogy)
by Kathryn Littlewood

Rosemary Bliss's family has a secret. It's the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Singing Gingersnaps. Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke locked away while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. "Aunt" Lily rides a motorcycle and also whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, non-magical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun. So Rose and her siblings experiment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke. A few Love Muffins and Cookies of Truth couldn't cause too much trouble . . . could they?


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Everything on a Waffle
Polly Horvath

Primrose Squarp simply knows her parents did not perish at sea during a terrible storm, but try convincing the other residents of Coal Harbour on that score. For all practical purposes, at least for the time being, Primrose is an orphan, and there's no great clamoring of prospective adopters. After realizing the impracticality of continuing to pay Miss Perfidy (a mothball-scented elderly lady) an hourly wage to baby-sit her, the town council is able to locate a relative, Uncle Jack, who reluctantly takes Primrose into his care. Primrose does warm up to living with him and in his home, despite the eerie noises resembling a hockey game that haunt her in the night. But true sanctuary can always be found at a restaurant called The Girl in the Swing, where everything―including lasagna―is served on a waffle, and where the proprietor, Miss Bowzer, offers a willing ear, as well as sage advice. Through a mixture of eccentric humor and probing philosophy, author Polly Horvath makes Primrose's search for peace and understanding a most memorable one.

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The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
by Kate Saunders

The family of 11-year-old twins Oz and Lily have inherited it, together with the mysterious shop downstairs. Long ago, the shop's famous chocolate-makers, who also happen to be Oz and Lily's great uncles, were clever sorcerers. Now evil villians are hunting for the secret of their greatest recipe. The terrifying powers of this magic chocolate have the ability to destroy the world.

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North of Happy
by Adi Alsaid

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby. When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother's voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father's plan for him. Worrying about his mental health but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss's daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what's most important to him and where his true path really lies

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Love and Gelato
by Jenna Evans Welch

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure. Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home. But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

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A La Carte
by Tanita S Davis

Seventeen-year-old Lainey dreams of becoming a world famous chef one day and maybe even having her own cooking show. (Do you know how many African American female chefs there aren’t? And how many vegetarian chefs have their own shows? The field is wide open for stardom!) But when her best friend—and secret crush—suddenly leaves town, Lainey finds herself alone in the kitchen. With a little help from Saint Julia (Child, of course), Lainey finds solace in her cooking as she comes to terms with the past and begins a new recipe for the future. Peppered with recipes from Lainey’s notebooks, this delicious debut novel finishes the same way one feels finishing a good meal—satiated, content, and hopeful.

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Love a la Mode
by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir....Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes. Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away. Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.


NONFICTION

What You Never Knew About Fingers, Forks, & Chopsticks
by Patricia Lauber

In What You Never Knew About Fingers, Forks, & Chopsticks, Patricia Lauber and John Manders serve up a hilarious and informative look at how ways of eating and manners have changed through the ages. This well-researched tour of social history makes the subject of how we eat more fascinating and fun than you ever imagined it could be. (1st-6th)

Who Wants Pizza?: The kids' guide to the history, science & culture of food
by Jan Thornhill

Full of direct, eye-opening information about why we need to eat, where our food comes from, how much of it we have, and why some food choices are wiser than others, the book covers a lot of important ground. Topics are easy to dip into and include digestion, the domestication of animals, different cultures’ table etiquette, sustainable agriculture, and the evolution of farming and food preservation. (3rd-8th)

Omnivore’s Dilemma Young Readers Edition
by Michael Pollan

From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers’ adaptation of Pollan’s famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices. (5th-6th)

Bread, Bread, Bread (Around the World Series)
by Ann Morris and Ken Heyman

Bread is a food enjoyed by people in all parts of the world. Its many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors are as varied as the people who eat it. This photographic round-the-world tour provides a glimpse into the rich variety of world cultures, as well as an informative look at an important food that everyone agrees is as necessary as water and air. (K-3)

Daily Bread: What Kids Eat Around the World
By Gregg Segal

As globalization alters our relationship to food, photographer Gregg Segal has embarked on a global project asking kids from around the world to take his “Daily Bread” challenge. Each child keeps a detailed journal of everything they eat in a week, and then Segal stages an elaborate portrait of them surrounded by the foods they consumed. The colorful and hyper-detailed results tell a unique story of multiculturalism and how we nourish ourselves at the dawn of the 21st century. (releasing June 4, 2019)

The Kid Who Changed the World
by Andy Andrews

The Kid Who Changed the World tells the story of Norman Borlaug, who would one day grow up and use his knowledge of agriculture to save the lives of two billion people. This engaging story reveals the incredible truth that everything we do matters! Based on his book The Butterfly Effect, Andrew’s timeless tale shows children that even the smallest of our actions can make a difference in someone’s life. (K-2)

Pass the Pandowdy, Please: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and their Fabulous Foods
by Abigail Ewing Zelz

Just like us, the great movers and shakers of history had to eat, and their favorite foods turn out to be a highly entertaining thread to follow through the history of our small planet. History and biography have never been this tasty! (2nd-6th)

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters
Tales retold by Jane Yolen, Recipes by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Entertaining retellings of favorite fairy tales by the award-winning author of Owl Moon and Devil's Arithmetic are accompanied by lush full-color artwork by an internationally renowned artist and a number of recipes for dishes that children can prepare for themselves. (K-5)

Skillet Bread, Sourdough and Vinegar Pie: Cooking in Pioneer Days
by Loretta Frances Ichord

Presents a look at what was eaten in the American West by pioneers on the trail, cowboys on cattle drives, and gold miners in California camps, with available ingredients, cooking methods, and equipment. Includes recipes and appendix of classroom cooking directions. (2nd-4th)

How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food
by Chris Butterworth

The best part of a young child’s day is often opening a lunchbox and diving in. But how did all that delicious food get there? Who made the bread for the sandwich? What about the cheese inside? Who plucked the fruit? And where did the chocolate in that cookie get its start? From planting wheat to mixing flour into dough, climbing trees to machine-squeezing fruit, picking cocoa pods to stirring a vat of melted bliss, here is a clear, engaging look at the steps involved in producing some common foods. Healthy tips and a peek at basic food groups complete the menu. (K-3)

World Food Alphabet: A global A-Z of different foods
by Chris Caldecott

From Apricot to Zucchini, and everything in between, here is a beautiful photographic alphabet of world food. Acclaimed photographer and owner of the World Food Cafe in London, Chris Caldicott takes us on a mouth-watering tour of the different crops, dishes and ways of eating from every continent.

Edible Numbers
by Jennifer Vogel Bass

This simple concept counting book will leave your mouth watering as you count from one to twelve with a kaleidoscope of tasty produce. Readers will learn about counting, variety, and color through the detailed, crisp photographs of homegrown and farmer's market fruits and vegetables! (PreK-K)

*All book summaries are from and linked to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted.