I love food themed picture books. They are truly my love language. Serve up a cultural specific food themed book, and I truly swoon. Pull up a chair and let’s dive into these multicutural picture books featuring food.
Books About Food and Culture
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Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham is a love song to the foods that bring families together each Sunday. There is so much to love in this book from the mouth-watering foods of mac-n-cheese, greens, ribs & sausage, and sweet tea to the vibrant moving images to o the cadence of the words. It’s all a win. Oh, and there is a mac ‘n’ cheese recipe in the back of the book that you must try.
Watercress is by Andrea Wing and is the story of a young girl and her family travel through Ohio when they spot watercress alongside the road. The family piles out of the car and collects as much as they can. Af first, the young girl is a bit embarrassed to be collecting food from alongside the road, but her mother shares a story from her childhood in China, that puts the experience in perspective. The young girl gains a new appreciation for foraging for food. The story was inspired by the author’s own childhood. I loved it!
Dinner on Domingos by Alexandra Katona is about that special day of the week when an extended family comes together to share a meal. A recipe for Locro is even included.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard introduces us to a food that has a history, a story, and a purpose to a family. It is a wonderful treat to get a glimpse into a family and expand our understanding of other families and the lyrical text makes this a beautiful read-aloud. There is even a recipe for fry bed at the end of the story along with lots of author notes.
If you ask me to name one of my top favorite books from my children’s childhood it would be Bee-bim Bop! By Linda Sue Park. Hungry hungry hungry for some bee-bim-bop. The wonderfully rhythmic makes this the perfect read for a whole group story time. And, the Korean recipe at the end of the story is delicious. We have had it for dinner several times.
Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz is the story of a family that takes turn choosing treats after Jummah prayer at the masjid each Friday. It’s Musa’s turn to pick and he want halal hot dogs. Can the family make this treat happen?
Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed shares the process of how daal is made. A young boy and his father are prepping daal and all of the boy’s friends are invitied. Will they like the dish as much as his family does? A recipe for daal is included.
A Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle takes us to Cuba where a child visits her abuelo who is a street vedor. She enjoys singing with him to sell their fruit.
Get ready for a dumpling bonanza with these next several books.
Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram is a delicious rhyming book that will have you counting all the different kinds of dumplings from tamales to gyoza. Oh, and there are 10 recipes included!
Dumplings for Lili by Melissa Iwai is the story of an apartment building filled with cooks making dumplings and one little girl who ensures everyone gets the right ingredients for their recipe. Join in on the tasty journey and discover lots of dumplings along the way. A recipe for baos is included in the backmatter.
Dumpling Dreams by Carrie Clickard is the story of chef Joyce Chen. The book has lots of yummy recipe variations at the end.
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan is a story of a young girl who gets to make dumplings for the first time with her family during their annual New Year’s gathering. Will anyone eat Marisa’s funny looking dumplings?
Ten Blocks to the Big Wok: A Chinatown Counting Book by Ying-Hwa Hu is the story of a child and her uncle who are on their way to a restaurant. Along the way, Mia counts all the sights to see from one panda to red lanterns as they travel ten blocks. At the restaurant, they order ten soup dumplings to two egg tarts to one special dish to share with someone when they leave. (bilingual English/Mandarian)
Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi takes us into the kitchen and beyond as a mother and daughter cook together. But, the connection goes beyond the two cooks to other generations and the world. This book includes two recipes for tomato chutney and tomato sauce. Back matter also includes tomato and farmworker facts.
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin is the story of one family that had a garden like no other in the neighborhood. For theirs held the yummy ingredients for a delicious ugly vegetable soup. Of course, the recipe for that soup is included in the back of the book.
Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak introduces us a chef who had to overcome many obstacles of achieving her dream. Nakayama had to prove that a woman can be a master chef in a male dominated field. In 2019, her restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars for excellent food. The book will take you Koreatown, Los Anglees, Califorina to Tokyo, Japan, and make to California again. The book includes a recipe for Wonton Pizzas, a dish Niki made when she was a child.
Every year on Christmas Eve, my family partakes in the Mexican tradition of making tamales. So, I’m so excited to have another book to read with my kids about this tradition. It’s May Your Life Be Deliciosa Too Many Tamalesby Michael Genhart. I’ll pair it with our old favorite, Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto.
Freedom Soup by Tami Charles is about the Haitian tradition of making Freedom Soup for the New Year.
Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the delicious soup using the same recipe her grandmother used to teach her. More importantly, as they cook, she shares the history behind the soup. A recipe for soup is included.
Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rockliff is the story of Goldie Simcha who makes her wonderful cholent for neighbors each week to celebrate Shabbat. But, one day Goldie is ill and unable to send the aromas of cholent throughout the apartment building. Her neighbors come together to bring cultural dishes to the table that are reminiscent of the ingredients in cholent. It’s a wonderful story of diversity, being a kind neighbor, and savoring time.
Hot Pot Night! by Vincent Chen is interactive in that it invites children to join in on the repetitive phrase, “hot pot, hot pot…” In this story, it is time for dinner but no one has enough ingredients to make their own meal. So, a clever child has the idea for a hot pot. Each neighbor brings a different ingredient to add to the pot. Soon the meal comes together. The last pages explain the different countries that have their own unique hot pot recipes. And, a hot pot recipe is included.
Every culture has ingredients and dishes that are loved and cherished. Salma and her mom have recently moved to Vancouver and are missing Papa and home. When Salma’s mom is feeling down she decides to cheer her up by making a Syrian dish of foul shami. Salma is determined and willing to overcome challenges to make this special dish. She gathers the ingredients with some creative thinking and asks others to help her on the cooking project.
And, in the end, she successfully brings joy to her mother and in the process meets a new community of friends to get to know. Check out Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan.
Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu is the story of a young girl who makes homemade tofu with her grandmother. Tofu making is a test of patience as the process takes time. But, the taste is worth the wait.
Lunch from Home by Joshua David Stein is the story of lunch box moments amongst different students in one class. Sometimes bringing foods that represent our families and cultures brings insensitive or rude comments from others. In this story, students learn to embrace their unique food traditions.
Get the Printable Food Themed Multicultural Picture Book List
Grab a printable list of the books above. Just click the purple printer button below.
More Multicultural Book Resources
Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.
MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.
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