Food, Cooking, & Culture: English Children’s Books

Food, Cooking, & Culture: English Children’s Books

My three kids love helping in the kitchen! And it means so much to me to make memories cooking together – especially when we can use that special time to learn about people from cultures around the world.

In our home, we make favorite recipes that have been passed down for generations in our families – Swedish kringla or Czech kolaches from my husband’s family, traditional yellow cake with chocolate sauce from my grandparents. Celebrating and passing down family food traditions promotes a sense of pride around who we are and where we come from.

We also love trying out delicious dishes from other cultures! This often starts with reading food and cooking books about diverse cultures. They help us learn about, value, and celebrate people from all over the world – who are also our neighbors and friends right here at home. Books are an excellent way to help kids (and adults!) explore and appreciate cultural diversity. And what better topic than food?

Today I’m sharing 20 favorite children’s books in English. Many of these titles explore various cultures around the world.  Others focus on one specific culture. Books are organized by age recommendation from youngest to oldest.

I hope you can find some of them at your local library or local bookstores.  Please support any bookstores that you’d like – or find these in my Bookshop (Multicultural Food & Cooking Books in English & Spanish) or through the Amazon links provided.  Enjoy learning about other cultures through food!

Happy reading,

Jenna

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English Children’s Picture Books

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal [Ages 3-6]

This is such a lovely book about a modern Native American family and what fry bread means to them. Fry bread is more than food, it is time together, traditions, family, and nation. I adore Martinez-Neal’s illustrations in this unique story. This book won the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, and was a 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Picture Book Honor Winner (among many other awards).

El gusto del mercado mexicano /A Taste of the Mexican Market

by Nancy Maria Grande Tabor [Ages 3-7]

El gusto del mercado mexicano / A Taste of the Mexican Market

A beautifully illustrated book taking readers through a Mexican market! In both English and Spanish, kids will love using this book to practice food vocabulary. Pair this one with a trip to a Mexican market near you or making a yummy new recipe.

My Food, Your Food, Our Food (How Are We Alike and Different?)

by Emma Carlson Berne, illustrated by Sharon Sordo, music by Mark Oblinger [Ages 3-9]

This is a sweet multicultural book about different food traditions. A perfect book for young children to learn about how our neighbors and friends are alike and different from us. It has music included to enjoy it in song form!

Bee-Bim Bop!

by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee [Ages 4-7]

Bee-bim bop translates to “mix-mix rice” and is a traditional Korean dish made up of rice, meat, and vegetables. My little ones loved the illustrations of the young girl helping her family with all the steps of making this yummy dish – something they love to do, too! We also enjoyed the musical, rhythmic text and the author’s own recipe at the end.

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India

by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Mariona Cabassa [Ages 4-8]

A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India

This is an absolutely beautiful story (with equally beautiful illustrations) about Market Day! A young girl visits the market in India, describing the rainbow of colors and the delicious traditional foods she discovers while searching for a special gift for her mother.

Bilal Cooks Daal

by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed [Ages 4-8]

Six-year-old Bilal gets to help his dad make their favorite South Asian lentil dish – daal! He wants all of his friends to try this yummy dish because they’ve never had it. A lovely book about family traditions, sharing them with friends, and trying new things.

Leila in Saffron

by Rukhsanna Guidroz, illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova [Ages 4-8]

Leila in Saffron

Leila, a young Pakistani girl, is at her grandmother’s house for a weekly family dinner together. Sometimes her self-esteem is lacking, but this particular night she notices all of the foods, traditions, art, and cultural heritage that make her who she is. A message for all of us to be proud of ourselves and our unique identities – just as we are.

Let’s Eat!: Mealtime Around the World

by Lynne Marie, illustrated by Parwinder Singh [Ages 4-8]

An informational book that explores how kids and families eat in 13 countries around the world – from Sweden to Peru or Pakistan! A favorite for introducing specific foods from a variety of different cultures to kids. Pair this up with a kids’ cook book recommendation below because your kids will want to try something new!

Pancakes to Parathas: Breakfast Around the World

by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Tomoko Suzuki [Ages 4-8]

This adorable, rhyming book teaches kids about the different kinds of breakfast foods enjoyed around the world – from Jamaica to Australia or Nigeria (and many other countries). A book to inspire your little one to want to travel, try new foods, and learn more about the unique and diverse people in our communities or abroad!

Thank You, Omu!

by Oge Mora [Ages 4-8]

A beautiful story of sharing and community – and wonderful food! Neighbors and friends in this urban community can’t help but smell and want to drop by to see if Omu will share a taste of her delicious stew.

20 English Children's Books Exploring Food, Cooking, and Cultures Around the World: from Bilingual Balance.

Cora Cooks Pancit

by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Ages 5-7]

In this sweet book about Filipino food and heritage, Cora gets a chance to be Mama’s assistant chef when her older siblings aren’t home. They make pancit together – Cora’s favorite noodle dish. Cora loves getting to be the big helper in the family!

Everybody Cooks Rice

by Norah Dooley, illustrated by Peter J. Thornton [Ages 5-9]

A beautiful story about a girl searching for her younger brother, who is late for dinner. She checks for him at each neighbor’s house, visiting families from many different countries, discovering they each cook a different rice dish for dinner. Multicultural rice recipes are included at the end.

What’s On Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food

by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Christiane Engel [Ages 5-9]

You’ll explore 14 countries in this gorgeous book about food, traditions, and cooking. Each country features information about how people eat all over the world, a map of the country, and a simple and yummy recipe for kids to try!

Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué rico!

by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez [Ages 6-9]

A gorgeous book of poetry celebrating the indigenous foods of the Americas. Perfect for reading before making your own dish together – with one of the delightful foods inside – or just for fun. We’ve loved every single title we’ve read by author Pat Mora!

A Taste of the World: What People Eat and How They Celebrate Around the Globe

by Little Gestalten (editor), illustrated by Beth Walrone [Ages 6-10]

This informational book takes you and your kids on a trip around the world! You’ll read about countries like Iran, Mexico, China, and Egypt to discover what kinds of foods they eat and what kinds of celebrations they enjoy. A must-have book for older kids!

Here and There

by Greg Paprocki [Ages 7+]

Picture of Here and There

This amazing Usborne book depicts the ways in which we are similar and different from people of different cultures across the world. In it you’ll find fun and informative looks at how people live in different countries. It includes the food-related chapters of buying groceries and healthy eating, as well as many more topics like playing outdoors, festivals, and getting around. A must-read pick!

Sarai and the Around the World Fair, Volume 4

by Saraí Gonzalez and Monica Brown [Ages 7-10]

This is a heart-warming book for elementary students on valuing our own multicultural food traditions. Saraí and her friends are tired of the cafeteria food, and embark on a quest to create a new menu. Students set up booths to showcase their family’s specialties (like Peruvian chicken or Mexican tamales) for Around-the-World Day.

Children’s Cookbooks

What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street?

by Felicita Sala [Ages 6-9]

This is a gorgeously-illustrated cookbook for young kids. It is filled with global dishes that the residents of the Garden Street apartments are making: beans, meatballs, gazpacho, or stir-fry. A beautiful message for kids that our neighbors have their own cultural traditions – and we should feel proud of our own backgrounds and respect theirs as well. Every neighbor has something to offer!

The World In My Kitchen: Global Recipes for Kids to Discover and Cook

by Sally Brown, illustrated by Kate Morris [Age recommendation not listed, I’d suggest 6-10]

If your kids love geography and travel, they’ll love this fun cookbook full of global recipes! With simple step-by-step instructions, kids can try out yummy new foods from countries like Morocco or Brazil. Pique your kids’ interest in learning about other countries – from home – with these mouthwatering recipes.

Cooking Class: Global Feast! 44 Recipes That Celebrate the World’s Cultures

by Deanna F. Cook [Ages 8-12]

Cooking Class: Global Feast!  44 Recipes That Celebrate the World's Cultures

We loved this amazing kids’ cookbook! It is FULL of colorful photos, delicious recipes from all over the world, and interesting cultural information. The recipe steps are easy to follow independently for older kids – or together as a family for younger kids. You’ll even learn some new words (and how to pronounce them). Definitely give this one a try!

Enjoy! I hope you’ll check out a few of these books to enjoy with your kids or students! What other favorites would you recommend? Please share in the comments!

Teachers – this is an informative article about using children’s books to promote a culturally responsive classroom (from the National Association for the Education of Young Children).

Parents – read more about teaching kids to value diversity in this article (from Parents magazine).

Follow Bilingual Balance for more tips, ideas, and resources on helping kids love language learning: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

Also check out these related posts:

Spanish Children’s Books on Food, Cooking, and Culture

50 Positive Affirmations to Tell Your Child (free printable in English & Spanish)

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