17 Books on Food and Cooking for Kids and Grown Ups Alike

May  6, 2016

As a baby, my daughter gleefully ate whatever was placed before her. As a toddler, when she first began to ask for what she wanted to eat, I was smugly pleased that avocado toast was a frequent request.

“Ah ha! A tiny foodie with an adventurous palate!” I all but crowed from the rooftops.

Now, as a spirited, fiercely-independent four-year-old, she has (repeatedly) taught me the error of my self-righteous ways.

While her list of acceptable foods is (for now) considerably shorter than I’d like, there is at least one food-related thing we still agree upon—books. Here are 17 of our favorite children’s books about food and cooking:

1. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola—Strega Nona tells Big Anthony not to touch the pasta pot, so you know what happens next: he does, trouble ensues.

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2. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown—Hungry soldiers outsmart stingy villagers, but in the end, there’s a feast for everyone to enjoy.

3. Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear—A fictional story​ about a young girl named Julia who loves French food and cooking with butter. It's not hard to figure out who inspired the tale.

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Top Comment:
“It's not directly about food, but the book recounts a snow day and includes the recipes the two sisters make (Fudge Cake!) It was the first time I had seen a recipe in print :)”
— Olivia B.

4. Minette’s Feast by Susanna Reich—An introduction to Julia Child through the eyes of the cat she adopted, Minette: Despite the caliber of leftovers in Julia’s kitchen, a true feast for the cat is always a freshly caught mouse!​

5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

6. Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

These aren’t Eric Carle’s only books involving food, but they are probably the two best-known. One, as the title suggests, about a very hungry caterpillar and the other about everything needed to make a batch of pancakes.​

7. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

8. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Two classics that both touch on the importance of trying new foods. (No guarantees they'll have any impact in real life.)

9. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood—Little Mouse really loves strawberries, but so does the bear. How will the mouse keep the bear from eating his red, ripe strawberry?

10. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett—The town of Chewandswallow never gets regular rain or snow, but the ​weather does come three times a day—in the form of food!

11. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak—Mickey’s dreams take him into a kitchen where he helps bakers prepare the “morning cake.”

12. Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak—A​ charming rhyming book about the months of the year (and why chicken soup with rice is nice all year long).

13. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff—In this book—and other similar ones by the same author, like If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Pig a Pancake—kids are introduced to cause and effect, as a simple snack sets off a circular chain of events.

14. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems—Little kids all too reluctant to share will find it easy to relate to the pigeon’s excitement at finding a hot dog and subsequent dismay when he realizes the duckling wants in on the tasty treat.

15. Noodle Magic by Roseanne Greenfield Thong—Grandpa Tu doesn’t just make noodles, he makes “magic with his hands and a bit of dough.” Mei spends a long night struggling to create noodles like Grandpa Tu’s, but eventually succeeds after realizing she has the magic within herself, too.

16. Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein—This recent release teaches kids about what they can and can't eat with a mix of fun and facts. For instance, while it's not possible to eat a tornado, "It's made out of wind," it is possible to eat tournedos, "a type of steak from France."

17. The Boy Who Ate Flowers by Nancy Sherman—This one is my personal all-time favorite, placed last only because I fear it may be hard to get your hands on a copy.

Peter, the boy, begins to tire of eating oatmeal, ​and he goes in search of new culinary experiences—in his mother’s flower garden. Everyone thinks Peter had lost his mind, but I delighted in the fact that Peter had found a delicious, under-appreciated food source—made even better with the eventual help of a French flower chef.

Tell us: What are your favorite children’s books about cooking and food?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • LakeRuby
  • msjbrush
  • Melissa
  • Diana W
    Diana W
  • mrslarkin
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


LakeRuby October 6, 2021
One of my favorites is How Batistine Made Bread by Treska Lindsey-- it's a gem!! Another favorite is Let's Eat! by Ana Zamorano. And for toddlers-- I love to give the set of Amy Sanger's World Snacks Series. They are so cute!
msjbrush May 27, 2016
The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl.
Melissa May 10, 2016
My daughter LOVES Soup Day, such a sweet story
Diana W. May 8, 2016
My daughter loves Bi Bim Bap by Linda Sue Park. A fun story about a little girl who helps her mother shop for and then prepare this popular Korean dish.
mrslarkin May 7, 2016
Two of my favorites:

Blueberries for Sal

Dim Sum for Everyone

Kellie B. May 7, 2016
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman is one of my favorites. The illustrations are wonderful
Emily I. May 6, 2016
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques always had incredible food descriptions. They would have feast days and explain the full spread! They also put out a cookbook. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a children's book written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, it's still on my shelf today.
Olivia B. May 6, 2016
One of my favorites was Happy Winter, by Karen Gundersheimer (also out of print, it seems). It's not directly about food, but the book recounts a snow day and includes the recipes the two sisters make (Fudge Cake!) It was the first time I had seen a recipe in print :)
ReneeL May 6, 2016
My kids and I love Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem by Jorge Argueta. It's an adorably illustrated poem, written in both English and Spanish, about little kids making guacamole together.
laurenlocally May 6, 2016
Tooloose the Chocolate Moose was a gem! "A chocolate moose has difficulty finding a career until he inadvertently creates chocolate mousse!"
Posie (. May 3, 2016
Two of my ABSOLUTE favorite children's books are food-related: The Maggie B (the passages about food are exceptional) and Jamberry, which I think is sadly out of print!
Caroline L. May 6, 2016
I LOVE Jamberry!