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.
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.
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?