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 12 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
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.
What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?
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.
My Love for You Is Always
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).
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.
Luna’s Yum Yum Dim Sum
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.
What Can You Do with a Paleta?
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.
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.
Seven Special Somethings: A Nowruz Story
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.
Piglette's Perfect Surprise
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)
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.
Follow That Food! (Waffles + Mochi)
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
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.