Children’s Books About Cuisine Around the World

by Naima Jasmine Russell

Adventure starts in the kitchen! Research shows that if you want your little ones to take risks and try new foods, they must see you trying new recipes and bravely sampling different cuisine at restaurants. What better way to inspire the palette of a little foodie than with these 14 beautiful and fun picture books featuring various dishes from around the world. Get your little chef in the kitchen and try one of the book and recipe pairings on this list!

  • Tomatoes for Neela

    by Padma Lakshmi, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

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    This book is absolutely stunning with illustrations so rich you can almost taste the tomatoes. A little girl helps her Amma with the slow process of canning fresh vegetables and creating sauces at summer's end. She writes the recipes in her special notebook because it reminds her of her Paati, who is far away in India, and she puts aside a special jar of sauce for Paati’s winter visit. The book closes with information about tomato varieties, recipes, and a note about farm workers.

    Pair it with this recipe for Tomato Chutney.

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  • Freedom Soup

    by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

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    Join Ti Gran and Belle as they bask in the annual and yummy New Year celebration! Haitians around the world, come together to celebrate their independence in a tradition that dates back to the Haitian Revolution. Together with young readers, they'll make the special soup Joumou and prepare a holiday feast as they dance and revel in rhythm while Ti Gran shares the history of the soup, her family, and Haiti, the country of their roots.

    Pair it with this recipe for Soup Joumou.

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  • What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?

    by Felicita Sala

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    Global smells fill an apartment building as the multicultural residents cook traditional dishes. Each page features a person cooking in their kitchen on the left and a visual recipe on the right. This layout invites readers to pour over individual ingredients and get a sense of the recipes. When everything is ready, the diverse community gathers and breaks bread together in their shared garden space. It’s a delightful and mouth-watering book for a budding chef.

    Pair it with this recipe for Greek Meatballs.

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  • My Love for You Is Always

    by Gillian Sze, illustrated by Michelle Lee

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    A child asks the ultimate question, “Mama, do you love me?” Of course, Mama answers yes, but the child wants a concrete sense of the abstract concept. What does love feel like? What does love taste like? And so on through the five senses. While bringing in the groceries to make a traditional Chinese meal, the mother does a beautiful job of making the abstract tangible through the universal language of food.

    Pair it with this recipe for Chinese Dumplings (potstickers).

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  • Black-Eyed Peas and Hoghead Cheese

    by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Steffi Walthall

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    In this delightful story, Frances visits her grandmother in Louisiana and embarks on a historical culinary journey while preparing their New Year's Day meal. She attentively listens as her grandmother shares stories that date back to the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade and about the food they're going to have for their feast. These stories not only teach Frances about the ingredients and dishes they are preparing, but also about her ancestors and their rich history.

    Pair it with this recipe for Southern Black Eyed Peas.

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  • Kalamata's Kitchen

    by Sarah Thomas, illustrated by Jo Kosmides Edwards

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    Kalamata and her alligator friend Al Dente can enter a magical world under the kitchen table, and the grown-ups never seem to notice. This is good because school starts tomorrow, and Kalamata feels nervous. Taking another magical trip with Al dente to the Indian spice market they visited over the summer reminds Kalamata that doing brave things can be exciting.

    Pair it with this recipe for Indian Tiki Masala.

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  • Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum

    by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Violet Kim

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    Storytelling and math collide on Luna’s birthday over a meal of dim sum. At the restaurant, she and her siblings are excited to eat pork buns, but when one falls on the floor, they use fractions and division to debate how to divide the delicious food equally.

    Pair it with this recipe for Pork Buns.

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  • What Can You Do with a Paleta?

    by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Magaly Morales

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    The arrival of a paleta vendor is the highlight of any summer day in a barrio, ‘where the big velvet roses bloom, red and pink and fuschia, where the accordion plays sassy and sweet.’ With illustrations swirling in hues of oranges, pinks, and reds, we follow a little girl as she imagines what she can do with the tasty, ice-cold Mexican treat. Grab the bilingual edition and read the text in Spanish and English for an immersive experience.

    Pair it with this recipe for Mexican Paletas.

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  • Hola! Jalapeno

    by Amy Wilson Sanger

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    This quirky, colorful, rhyming ode to Mexican food is perfect for your littlest foodie! Amy Wilson Sanger’s picture collages familiarize children with Mexican favorites like tostadas, enchiladas, and mole chicken while learning Spanish words. Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with the language; a pronunciation guide is on the back cover.

    Pair it with this recipe for Healthy Chicken Enchiladas.

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  • Seven Special Somethings: A Nowruz Story

    by Adib Khorram, illustrated by Zainab Faidhi

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    The Persian holiday of Nowruz celebrates the first day of spring. Maman and Baba set the haft-seen table with things that start with the letter “s.” Maman says it will bring them joy in the new year. When the family cat overturns the haft-seen, can Kian find seven special somethings to put it right before the rest of his family arrives?

    Pair it with this recipe for Persian Herb Rice.

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  • Piglette's Perfect Surprise

    Piglette's Perfect Surprise

    by Katelyn Aronson, illustrated by Eva Byrne

    Fans of Fancy Nancy will ooh la la at this adorable new series about a posh Parisian pig. In this latest book, Piglette comes to Paris to find the perfect gift for Madam Paradee when her snout leads her to a patisserie. She decides to bake a cake as her gift but learns that perfection is found in simple things. The fold-out page of Piglette’s doomed tower of treats is eye candy for readers.

    Pair it with this recipe for Easy Petit Fours or ditch the kitchen, head to your favorite French bakery, and sample everything!

  • Baking with Blue! (Blue's Clues & You)

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    Everyone's favorite blue dog is in the kitchen. Blue and Josh are working very hard to bake a yummy treat from the Philippines: a bibingka cake! Play Blue’s Clues to find out who Blue wants to give the cake to. This sweet preschool read comes with 30 stickers and a bibingka cake recipe in the back.

    Pair it with this recipe for Coconut Bibingka.

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  •  Follow That Food! (Waffles + Mochi)

    Follow That Food! (Waffles + Mochi)

    by Christy Webster, illustrated by Sarah Rebar, introduction by Michelle Obama

    Waffles + Mochi is an all-new children's show from former President Barack Obama’s and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions. In this board book tale, best friends Waffles and Mochi begin working at a supermarket. They make a pizza from scratch for their new co-workers, but figuring out where fresh ingredients come from takes them around the world.

    Pair it with this recipe for Pizza from Scratch.

  • A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

    by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

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    I picked this up at our local library and read it cover to cover, savoring the story and the history-packed back matter. With repetitive language and baking steps, A Fine Dessert chronicles four families and how they make a dessert called blackberry fool. Many things change from 1710 England to 1810 South Carolina and 1910 Boston to present-day San Diego. Readers will flip back and forth, looking at the changes in utensils, outfits, how ingredients were secured, and even who does the cooking — but the dessert remains the same. Delicious!

    Pair it with this recipe for Blackberry Fool.

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