Pediatricians will tell you that proper nutrition is necessary for optimal brain development. The trick is how to make children believe that every meal shouldn’t come in a box from a place with a drive-through window! These delectable food books are fantastic for foodies, great for goodies, and persuasive for picky eaters. Bon Appetit!
Books About Foods from Around the World
Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by James and Kimberly Dean
Pete the Cat is having a pizza party! But what happens when everyone has a different favorite pizza topping? This book is great for focusing on the beginning sound /p/ with words like pistachios, pickles, and even papaya!
Extending the Learning: Students can host their own pizza party with the Pizza Parlor dramatic play unit!
Hey, Pancakes! by Tamson Weston
This book makes students and teachers alike hungry for some sweet, syrupy pancakes! With simple rhymes and engaging pictures, students are sure to ask for “second helpings!”
Extending the Learning: This book has a recipe for Grandma’s Pancakes in the back, so why not whip up a tasty stack? Cooking not possible in the classroom? Practice stacking the pancakes high with the Pancake and Waffle Dramatic Play center!
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Dragons LOVE tacos, but they hate anything spicy! So what happens when a bit of super-spicy salsa sneaks onto the taco table?
Extending the Learning: Preschoolers can help make delicious non-spicy salsa from scratch! While some teachers might be hesitant to give little ones knives, students can help put items in the food processor or measure and mix pre-chopped ingredients. Bonus points if the ingredients are all grown in a classroom garden!
You could even set up a Taco Stand in the dramatic play center!
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Bee-bim bop is a Korean dish starring rice and eggs. This story shows all the steps involved in creating it, from shopping at the store, chopping and cooking ingredients, and even cleaning up spills! To make the most of the repeating phrase, teach it to the students before reading the story and have them say it along with the reader!
Extending the Learning: Read more about Reading Comprehension strategies that you can use with this and other stories right here!
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillart
This gorgeous book could be a unit all by itself! The author touches all the senses and more with the descriptions of making and eating the Native American staple. The illustrations show not only Native American characters, it includes a diverse group of family and friends that join them in their tradition.
Extending the Learning: At the back of this book, there are in-depth extensions of each of the simple ideas in the book. For example, “Fry bread is place” goes on to explain how the different tribes were spread around the continent and how the fry bread varies from area to area while still being very recognizable. Teachers of older students or mixed-aged classrooms can explore these ideas and celebrate unity and diversity in the same breath!
Food Books about Fruits and Veggies
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don & Audrey Wood
Little Mouse has a delicious treat – a giant red strawberry! But he has to keep it away from a very hungry bear. Students follow along as the narrator warns the little mouse about the bear with designs on his strawberry. But is the bear even real, or is it a ploy by the narrator to get some strawberry for themselves?
Extending the learning: Using red paint and bubble wrap, it is easy to make some beautiful strawberry-themed process art! Encourage students to paint the bubble wrap red and then press a strawberry-shaped piece of paper on top of the painted bubbles to make art nearly good enough to eat. Adding strawberry drink mix to the paint makes it smell delightful as well!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
In this classic and beautiful story, a tiny caterpillar experiments with many different foods to find what he needs to grow and change into a beautiful butterfly. After he overeats at a picnic, he gets a terrible tummyache! This book is should be on every preschool bookshelf!
Extending the learning: Strengthen little hands by adding hole punchers, brightly colored paper scraps, and glue at the art table. Demonstrate to the students how to empty the hole puncher into a bowl so they can use the dots to make more art with the tiny circles.
The Fruits We Eat by Gail Gibbons
This sweet picture book offers young learners an inviting, informational array of favorite fruits. The author combines her clear, simple text with signature illustrations to present a bushel of fruit facts: the parts of fruits, where and how they grow, harvesting, processing, where to buy them, and how to enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.
Extending the learning: Ask parents to bring in their child’s favorite fruit, and provide some other more unusual fruits. Spend some time discussing the fruits, then cut them up to make a delicious “friendship fruit salad.”
The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons
In the companion book to The Fruits We Eat, Gail Gibbons makes nonfiction intriguing for young learners. Bright illustrations with easy-to-read text encourage children to explore and discuss the vegetables they know and introduce them to others they might not have thought of.
Extending the learning: A small classroom garden is a wonderful way to encourage some culinary exploration. Visit it every day to discuss the plants growing from the seeds, watch the flowers develop, and eventually harvest the results for some delicious snack that the students will proudly share!
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
Poor Charlie has to convince his sister Lola to eat her dinner. She won’t eat a tomato, but will she eat a “moon squirter?” How about “orange twiglets from Jupiter?” A super cute and funny read keeps preschoolers engaged and giggling at how Charlie convinces Lola to try some veggies!
Extending the learning: Ask students to put themselves in Charlie’s shoes. What would they call the foods in their lunch to help entice a picky eater?
Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman
This book isn’t so much about eating, but it will bring a smile to any preschooler’s face. It also has some excellent advice – you can wear your underwear anywhere, but be sure to put clothes on top! By mixing the topics of clothing and healthy eating, this book is sure to grab many preschooler’s attention!
Extending the learning: Encourage students to name the different veggies in underpants as they look at the book.
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Lois Ehlert uses bold illustrations and simple words to walk preschoolers through the process of growing vegetables and making them into a soup. This book is a great tool for a writing center as every single object is labeled with a name. There is even a recipe for vegetable soup in the back!
Extending the learning: This one is a no-brainer. Simple vegetable soup can easily be made in a crockpot and served for lunch! Students can help wash and peel vegetables, pour in the liquids, and take turns stirring it as it cooks. Here’s a simple recipe for vegetable soup!
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
Monsters don’t eat broccoli! They prefer rocketships, or buildings, or even trees…wait a second, those trees look mighty suspicious! This enchanting story uses rhyming text and bright illustrations good enough to convince any monster to snack on some broccoli trees!
Extending the learning: The text of this book uses rhymes. Encourage children to identify the rhymes in this story and make some of their own with other foods.
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Children love this colorful book! This book helps to educate children about different fruits and vegetables for every letter of the alphabet. It has inspired many children to try new fruits and vegetables that they’ve never had before. It also helps children identify fruits and vegetables in the grocery store’s produce section that they might have once overlooked. Lois Ehlert’s artwork speaks to preschoolers with bright, bold colors and simple text, so it is also a great addition to a literacy center or dramatic play “grocery store” area.
Extending the learning: After reading the book, work with the students to chart their favorite vegetables!
Food Books about Grocery Shopping
Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
Little Llama does NOT like going grocery shopping. It’s boring and tedious for him. So what does he do? He has a huge meltdown! While this book is more about managing big feelings, students connect very well with the little Llama as he has to tag along on his mom’s errands.
Extending the learning: To work on communication skills, have students draw a picture of their favorite part of grocery shopping and discuss.
At the Supermarket by Anne Rockwell
A young boy helps his mom buy what they need on a special trip to the supermarket. He helps put meats, fruits, and vegetables in the shopping cart. They also remember the most important ingredients – the ones needed to bake a birthday cake! Anne Rockwell conveys the adventure of a trip to the supermarket from a young child’s point-of-view with adorable marker-style drawings and simple text.
Extending the learning: Introduce a grocery store dramatic play area so students can recreate the story!
What Happens at a Supermarket by Amy Hutchings
What really happens at a Supermarket? This book gives preschoolers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what happens behind the mysterious “Employees Only” signs. Simple, clear text with colorful photographs make these non-fiction books a must-have for any preschool unit on Nutrition or Community Helpers!
Extending the learning: If you are permitted to take field trips, many grocery stores are quite happy to accommodate preschools. If not, see if maybe a grocery store employee can come to the classroom!
Maisy Goes Shopping by Lucy Cousins
Everybody’s favorite mouse goes to the store to buy goodies for lunch! The simple illustrations and easy to read text make this a favorite for pre-readers to attempt on their own in the literacy corner.
Extending the learning: Invite students to make a “grocery list” to shop for their favorite items for lunch. Have vocabulary cards, paper, pencils, and clipboards ready because every student will want to list their favorites!
Food Books about Mealtime and More
Looking for more delectable food books to add to the classroom? Try some of these tasty picks! After reading these, perhaps during snack or lunch, extend the learning by tasting the foods in the book and discussing what students think of them.
- Lunch by Denise Fleming
- Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat
- Mealtime by Elizabeth Verdick
- A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
- Please Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
- Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean
There are so many wonderful cookbooks and resources out there for cooking with children and enjoying food! This is only the top of the pile of food books! Cooking with children is an amazing activity that utilizes math, science, verbal skills, following directions, and cause-and-effect. But please, remember to always check for food allergies before introducing foods to your classroom.
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