Food: it’s what’s for dinner! Whether your kid already has a more sophisticated palate than you or you haven’t yet taught them to eat like a normal human (aka like a French child), eating is one of the ties that bind us all. These 9 books will teach them about a range of cuisines, where their food comes from, and how manners get you more cake than tantrums do.
Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life Of Julia ChildLest your children grow up thinking food television was always a mess of absurd cooking competitions involving screaming chefs and bizarre ingredients, here’s a beautiful and fun picture book biography of the legendary Julia Child. Bonus points for any book that can get kids interested in tasting codfish balls.
Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland ($13)
First Book Of SushiRemember when sushi was an exotic Far East import, not a $5 snack from the gas station? Since it’s only a matter of time before bento boxes come with a toy (come to think of it, someone get the trademark office on the phone…), make sure your kid knows their miso from their maki with this rhyming primer on Japanese cuisine.
First Book of Sushi by Amy Wilson Sanger ($6)
The Donut Chef
This retro-styled book tells of a modern problem: a crowded marketplace turning what used to be simple, wholesome foods into Guy Fieri-fied culinary mutants. Thankfully, in this story a little girl helps the titular chef wins his bakery war by reclaiming his soul with some good old-fashioned glazed donuts. Which is highly preferable to selling your soul for one. Mmm … donut.
The Donut Chef by Bob Staake ($8)
Dragons Love TacosThere are 2 equally important lessons to take away from this New York Times bestseller. First, consuming too much hot and spicy salsa will cause you to shoot flames out your nose. Second, everyone loves tacos, even mythological fantasy creatures that may or may not have ever existed. That’s how good tacos are.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri ($10)
Bee-bim Bop!Even if the traditional Korean rice dish isn’t a staple around your house (and if it isn’t, seriously, get on that, because it’s delicious), the joy of helping mom and dad in the kitchen is universal. That tradition is the central theme of this story. It just happens to be conveyed through a food that’s exceedingly fun to say.
Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee ($13)
To Market, To MarketAnyone who can make paper-cuts and a grocery list feel action-packed deserves your immediate attention. That Nikki McClure also manages to make kale interesting merits your immediate purchase. Because your child deserves to know exactly where their food comes from — and no, that doesn’t mean “The guy in the truck who brings it to our house.”
To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure ($13)
Food Trucks!The food truck revolution has rolled over every major city in the nation at this point, but in a way kids have been obsessed with these things for decades. Just ask Mr. Softee. This book is an illustrated ode to those glorious mobile kitchens that bring all manner of cuisine — from falafel to cupcakes — directly to your doorstep.
Food Trucks! by Mark Todd ($14)
Rude CakesIf you name yourself “Rowboat,” you pretty much have 2 career options: children’s book author who writes about pink magic cakes, or guy who sells them out of a van at Phish shows. (Or, uh, actual rowboat. So 3 options.) Fortunately, Rowboat Watkins chose the former and created a book that will teach your kids to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Because they may not listen to you, but they always respond to dessert.
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins ($11)
Ganesha’s Sweet ToothThis story, illustrated by a Pixar animator, is a modern, sugar-infused take on the ages-old legend of the poet Vyasa reciting the epic poem Mahabharata to Ganesha, who transcribes with his tusk. That’s Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of all beings, not to be confused with ganache, the chocolate god of all frostings.
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes and Sanjay Patel ($13)
Can I Eat That?
That question is also the title of a new book from food critic Joshua David Stein and illustrator Julia Rothman which encourages picky eaters and junior foodies alike to play with their food and their words. Stein poses punny questions to young readers, like can they eat a tomato (yes), a potato (yup), tonnato sauce from Italy (sure can), or a tornado (feel free to try, but probably won’t end well). It should come as no surprise that he initially wrote the book for his own 3-year-old son, who now knows that chicken fingers have as little to do with fingers as eggs do with eggplants.
Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein and Julia Rothman ($11)