Surely everyone has to eat. Children’s authors know that food details make for good kid lit. Here are some of our favorite food books for kids, whether you’re trying to get preschoolers to make pretend meals, teach them about different food traditions, or get them excited about reading.
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell (PreK–K)
Early in the movie, a big and busy family is going grocery shopping and making dinner. They count as they go. Students can talk about their own family food traditions or make food-themed counting books.
Pop Pop and Me and a Recipe by Irene Smalls (PreK–K)
This story is all about Pop Pop, who is the family baker. Grandmas get a lot of attention for that. Grandfather and grandson had a lot of fun together making a lemon cake that was as sweet as this story.
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (PreK–K)
This story surprises young listeners with its twists and turns. Little Pea hates candy more than anything. A good way to start a conversation about your favorite and least favorite foods is to share this. If you want to act out or retell the story, this is the best place to start.
Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert (PreK–K)
Our favorite thing about this book is that it makes us want to go to the farmers’ market and get out the watercolor paints. Lois Ehlert makes fruits and vegetables interesting because of the colors, the variety, the shapes, the textures, and, of course, the letters at the start of each one.
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle (PreK–1)
After reading this story, a lot of kids have been making pancakes in their classrooms. In the past, making the breakfast treat took more than just getting some ready-made mix from the store. This is a must-read for kids.
Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (PreK–1)
For a family dinner, a young girl helps her mother make a traditional Korean dish that everyone will enjoy. One of the most popular books we know is this one. Students won’t be able to stay quiet.
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges (PreK–1)
In early childhood classrooms, there are a lot of stories about the Little Red Hen, and this one is one of our favorite. Her friends won’t help her get supplies or look for ingredients in the neighborhood. When the pizza is bigger than she thought, will she share?
Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai (PreK–1)
In the same way that Soup Day (another favorite food title) is celebrated, a young child picks vegetables, makes dough, and makes sauce for pizza at home. We love how the text is simple but still has a lot of great information and words. It’s great for teaching kids about where food comes from and encouraging them to cook real or pretend food.
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain (PreK–1)
Children of the 1980s will remember this one from their own childhood. It gets so bad that Sister, Brother, and Papa Bear are snacking on Sugar Balls and Choco-Chums that Mama Bear comes up with a family plan for better health.
Yoko by Rosemary Wells (PreK–1)
Children may eat more foods from different cultures today than they did when this book was written. The messages about being willing to try new foods and appreciating differences still hold true, though. Plus, the last scene that shows Yoko and Timothy’s pretend restaurant and friendship will always be one of our favorites.
Food Truck Fest! by Alexandra Penfold (PreK–2)
There is nothing that kids don’t like about food trucks. They serve finger-licking good food that can be eaten outside. During a food festival, this title rhymes its way through all the different foods. Make it fun for kids to share their own food truck experiences or think about how they might start their own businesses down the road.
Grow! Raise! Catch! How We Get Our Food by Shelley Rotner (PreK–2)
“A long time ago, there were no stores or fridges.” There are a lot of close-up shots and quotes from people who farm, fish or raise animals for food in the modern world before the photos from the past.
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child (PreK–2)
Having Charlie’s skillful response to his little sister Lola’s picky eating makes parents and caregivers even better at what they do. Cloud fluff from Mount Fuji and fish sticks from the Mermaid Supermarket make mashed potatoes and fish sticks more appealing.
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman (PreK–3)
Her patience with her seven kids should earn her a mom award. It was made with a lot of love for her birthday (plus pink lemonade, bread dough, and more). We’ve used this book for comprehension strategy work, to learn about the author’s message, and to get people to write “creative” recipes.
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (K–2)
In order to become a real cook, Cora wants to help her mother make pancit, which is a Filipino noodle dish. When her mother offers to let her help, she takes it. When her whole family likes the food she makes, she enjoys cooking for other people. People in the kitchen should talk about jobs they’d be happy to have.
Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud (K–3)
Chef George Crum is known all over the world for his unique cooking. When a customer who is “punctual” comes back for more potatoes three times, George’s crispy, salty response starts a new food craze: the potato chip! It’s a good idea to go over the author’s note with older students so that they can practice noticing real and made-up details in this “fictional tale with a little truth.”
Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt (K–3)
Seeing that her friend has nothing in the fridge makes Sofia want to help. With this heartfelt story, you can teach your kids about food insecurity.
How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller (K–3)
Matilda, an adventurous eater, wants to change her parents’ minds about food. As time goes on, she gets better at cooking food from a wide range of cultures. She can make everything: pho, fajitas, and even “green things.”
Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming (K-3)
It’s the princess’ birthday, and Jack has been invited. He wants to make a cake for her. When birds, bears, and more things get in the way of Jack’s way to the castle, he comes up with a way around them.
Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) by Josh Funk (K–3)
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, The Case of the Stinky Stench, and their predecessors will be a big hit in your classroom. You can find breakfast food with mustaches, a devious stalk of asparagus, and a fun rhyme scheme in this book. In science class, you’ll learn about how things freeze and melt, and this would be a fun way to tie it in!
How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth (K–3)
This interesting nonfiction book asks a question that is important but not very often asked. From sandwich bread to clementines, there are sections that show how kids’ favorite foods came to be. There are cocoa beans in chocolate chip cookies. Not at all.
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo (1–4)
With friends and family, food is the best. A soybean farm is near Jinyi’s aunt’s house, so they mix old and new traditions when they find it.
What’s on Your Plate?: Exploring the Food of the World by Whitney Stewart (1–4)
This title has a lot of information about how food, culture, and history all come together in different countries around the world. Maps show which crops each country grows, and simple but tasty recipes get kids excited about cooking and tasting.
Lunch Will Never Be the Same! (Phoebe G. Green #1) by Veera Hiranandani (1–3)
If you’re a first-time chapter-book reader, this clever series is for you. Kids who like cooking will be especially happy with this series. In this first title, Phoebe is intrigued by the exotic-looking school lunches of her French classmate, Camille.
Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal (3–6)
This graphic-novel series about a young boy and his magical cooking pot is good for kids who like to go on adventures and eat things that aren’t normal.