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food books
Bread Lab! photo courtesy Readers to Eaters; Fruit Bowl photo courtesy Penguin Random House; The Nian Monster photo courtesy Albert Whitman; The Bagel King photo courtesy Kids Can Press; Guacamole photo courtesy House of Anansi Press; Tough Cookie photo courtesy Macmillan Publishers;

Books That Inspire a Love of Food

Check out these recommendations from local book experts and librarians.

The Thanksgiving that my daughter was two and a half, she sat in her highchair and ate nothing but blueberries. Later, when the adults with full stomachs wanted to take naps, she was hungry again, and not impressed by the selection of leftovers. While cooking and eating with young kids can be complicated, reading about food with them is anything but—and the buffet of choices is delicious.

Fruit Bowl

by Mark Hoffmann
(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018)

Tomato wants to join the other fruits in the fruit bowl, but does he belong with the apples, oranges, and peaches? Using lessons in botany and plays on words throughout, tomato proves that he does belong, and so do many other fruits that kids probably wouldn’t expect.

Bread Lab!

by Kim Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly; illustrated by Hayelin Choi
(Readers to Eaters, 2018)

Bread Lab! is a fun way to introduce children and families to bread-making and food science, and captures the entire sensory experience of smell, touch, sound, and the wonderful taste of homemade sourdough bread,” says Philip Lee, co-founder and publisher of Readers to Eaters, a publishing company focused on food literacy. In a story featuring Iris and her Aunt Mary, readers will learn which ingredients come together to make bread, what makes dough rise, how flour is made from wheat, and more.


by Jorge Argueta; illustrated by Margarita Sada
(Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2012)

Recommended by Liesel Schmidt, children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library, “four big avocados/like green precious stones” come together to make guacamole in a bilingual English/Spanish picture book poem. It’s the third book in the author’s series of cooking poems, created to convey the joy of preparing food for loved ones.

Tough Cookie

by Edward Hemingway
(Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, 2018)

The author, a grandson of novelist Ernest Hemingway, puts a new twist on the classic story of the Gingerbread Man, in which Fox visits the Land of Holiday Treats. In the back, readers will find a recipe and instructions for their own cookies, as well as instructions for a tree ornament.

The Nian Monster

by Andrea Wang; illustrated by Alina Chau
(Albert Whitman & Company, 2016)

When the Nian Monster comes to devour the city of Shanghai, he’s not scared away by loud sounds, fire, and the color red, like an ancient legend says. Young Xingling convinces him to delay destroying the city, after he eats a bowl of long-life noodles, then Milkfish from the Huangpu River, then rice cakes so sticky that his jaws remain clamped shut. An author’s note explains the significance of traditional foods eaten during Chinese New Year celebrations, which are mentioned throughout the story.

The Bagel King

by Andrew Larsen; illustrated by Sandy Nichols
(Kids Can Press, 2018)

Every Sunday morning, Eli’s Zaida (grandfather) buys warm, salty, chewy bagels and delivers them to his friends, until the day Zaida falls at the bakery and hurts his tuches. “It’s up to Eli to keep the bagel tradition going in this touching story of family and community,” says Carrie Wolfson, a children’s librarian at the Denver Public Library. A glossary of Yiddish words used throughout the story expands the meaning for young readers.

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