Skip to main content
Learn more about Build, Learn, Grow resources for families and programs.

Build, Learn, Grow

Learn more about Build, Learn, Grow resources for families and programs.


It looks like your browser is out-of-date! For the best user experience, please upgrade to a more modern browser like Chrome or Edge.

Brighter Futures Logo

December 13, 2018

Tasty Reads for Your Little Foodie

Very Hungry Caterpillar Feautre CORRECT 1423x593

Discover 13 great books about food recommended by the Brighter Readers Book Crew!

What do you eat when you feel hungry? And what other feelings do you have when you feel hunger? Talking about food gives us a chance to talk about many other topics. Whether you want to talk about feelings, practice your numbers, learn new words or have some family time, these reads and follow-up activities help you get those chats going.

We asked members of our Brighter Readers Book Crew to share their favorite children’s books about food with us. Check our list out and share your favorite reads with us in the comments!

Kirsten Eamon-Shine has a six-year-old son and way too many children’s books at her house. She also directs Early Learning Indiana’s communications. These are her picks:

Dragons Love Tacos
Adam Rubin, author, and Daniel Salmieri, Illustrator
Best for: Three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, and early readers

“I’m mom-proud of my son for many reasons, but his appreciation of diverse foods, including ones that ‘have a little kick’ as he puts it, delights me. This book about dragons (who of course love tacos) who eat some too-spicy salsa gave us some fun ways to talk about too-sparky sauces. It’s also hilarious, and books that make my family giggle seem to be the books that often brings us closer together.”

After you read: What spicy foods does your little one like? Find out by putting a drop of hot sauce on a spoon, so they can touch it with their finger and taste it. You can also crack some pepper on your dinner and talk about whether the food tastes better or different. Keep a cooling food, like yogurt, milk or bread handy.

Little Pea
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author, and Jen Corace, Illustrator
Best for: Infants, one-year-olds, two-year-olds, and early readers

“One of my perennial new-baby gifts, this charming book highlights the wonders of vegetables. And it embeds that discussion in text that celebrates what it feels like to be a part of a loving family. It also gives dads and moms the chance to talk about the benefits of nutritious foods over candy, without being preachy. It comes in both board book and traditional binding.”

After you read: Ask, “what are your favorite little vegetables?” You can also make a pea soup and call it “little pea soup” for laughs.

Too Many Tamales!
Gary Soto, author, and Ed Martinez, illustrator
Best for: Four-year-olds, five-year-olds, read along with pre-school and pre-k learners, school age

“This charming holiday story of making tamales with extended family also includes a wonderful lesson on the value of telling the truth. The illustrations are actually oil paintings, lending a cozy and very warm feeling to each page. Reading this text allows children to reflect on rules, working together toward solutions and the way that food is a part of culture.”

After you read: Tamales are made through a laborious process that is also family-friendly. Look up a recipe and make tamales together. You will have fun instructing your little one on how to spread the masa on the corn husk. Then, enjoy your hard work with a yummy meal.

Amy Healton is a mom of two and an early learning and development expert at Early Learning Indiana. These are her picks:

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop Up
Robert Sabuda, author and illustrator
Best for: Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

“Each highly decorated page has mice with pop-up cookies highlighting traditional celebration cookies from many cultures. It has simple playful language and amazing detailed pictures. The playful hidden intricacies make it fun for preschool ages while the pop-up visuals and easy sentences make it great for shared grown up reading with younger children.”

After you read: Make cookies together! Make little mouse-sized cookies and big ones for grown-ups. Then, have your little baker shape a cookie that is for their size.

Allyson Hischemiller loves art, nature and books. She also works at Indy Reads Books. These are her picks:

How to Eat a Rainbow: Magical Raw Vegan Recipes for Kids!
Ellie Bedford, author, Sabrina Bedford, illustrator
Best for: Five-year-olds, read along with pre-school and pre-k learners, school age

“You don’t have to be vegan to love this book! Fruits and vegetables are a valuable part of any diet, but notoriously difficult for kids to get excited about. This book has adorable illustrations, and fun colorful recipes.”

After you read: Choose one of the recipes and make it together. Ask, “why did you choose this recipe?” Or, “is it tasty? What is your favorite part about this food?”

Vicki Lehman is a professional development specialist at Child Care Answers. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and spent her first seven years out of college teaching in a pre-K classroom. Some of her favorite books are by Dr. Seuss. These are her picks:

How Are You Peeling?
Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers, authors and illustrators
Best for: Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, read along with pre-school and pre-k learners

This is a book that asks all the right questions. And leaves you feeling great no matter what the answers are!

“This book has the most amazing illustrations — and they are all created using fruits and vegetables! This book is all about emotions which is always a fantastic topic to talk to your little ones about.”

After you read: Ask your little one about the moods of the fruits and veggies in your fridge and giggle away! “What is the mood of this banana?” Or, how do you think this pineapple is feeling today?” For extra laughs, get some googly eyes from the craft store and see what potatoes, eggplants and oranges look like when they are looking at you.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle, author and illustrator
Best for: One-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds, read along with pre-school and pre-k learners

“This book is absolutely a classic. Eric Carle’s illustrations are always incredibly unique and beautiful. This story is just so fun and simple — children of all ages always find wonder and excitement in the beautiful butterfly at the end.”

After you read: Try your hand at making an Eric Carle-style illustration. Gather construction paper or paint plain paper with different watercolors. After they dry, cut out shapes and make your own pictures. See how Eric Carle creates his pictures here.

Shirley Mullin is a teacher and librarian. She owns and operates Kids Ink, Children’s Bookstore. These are her picks:

Let’s Nosh!
Amy Wilson Sanger, author and illustrator
Best for: Infants, one-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Slurp a sip of chicken soup with floating matzoh balls! From rugelach to fresh-baked challah, tasty treats await young readers in this colorful, rhyming ode to kosher cuisine. With pages full of tummy-tempting foods, the books in the World Snacks series are a delicious way to introduce even the littlest eaters to cuisines from all around the globe.

“Rhyming text, excellent pictures and a glossary in the back to help if the reader doesn’t know what mish-mosh, kugel, or other terms mean.”

After you read: Pick a yummy food from this book and look for it in the grocery store. Read the packages together or ask, “what do you think is in this box?” Feeling adventurous? Try making some of the foods from the book together.

First Book of Sushi
Amy Wilson Sanger, author and illustrator
Best for: One-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, Infants, five-year-olds,

First Book of Sushi is another story from the World Snacks series.

“Rhythmic language and graphic pictures make this book engaging. ‘Miso in my sippy cup, tofu in my bowl.’ The ending is especially appropriate, ‘Someday I’ll eat with chopsticks, but today just with my hands.'”

After you read: Ask, “what kinds of sushi rolls do you like (do you think you would like)?” Or share a sushi roll together. You can also make your own sushi rolls with construction paper, like in the book!

Yum Yum Dim Sum
Amy Wilson Sanger, author and illustrator
Best for: Infants, one-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Yum Yum Dim Sum is also from the World Snacks series.

“‘Today we’re having dim sum. Look, there’s the rolling cart. Papa says that sim sum means ‘a little bit of heart.’ Once again delightful illustrations and text along with cultural impact.”

After you read: Ask, “what is your favorite food that we make at home?” “How do you feel when you eat it?” “What foods taste like love when you eat them?”

Vicci Rydzinski is a wife and the mom of a spunky two-year-old boy! Vicci is also the manager of family child care support at Early Learning Indiana. These are her picks:

Eating the Alphabet
Lois Ehlert, author and illustrator
Best for: Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds

While teaching upper- and lower-case letters to preschoolers, Ehlert introduces fruits and vegetables from around the world. A glossary at the end provides interesting facts about each food.

I love the glossary at the end of the book. It is a great tool to teach children to use! Also, Lois Ehlert’s illustrations are just so big and bold for little learners, which makes for a fun read!

After you read: Have each family member pick a fruit or vegetable using the first letter of their name. Now, eat them together!

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Fruit Alphabet
Mrs. Peanuckle, author and Jessie Ford, illustrator
Best for: Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Fruit Alphabet introduces babies and toddlers to the colorful foods that will help them grow up to be healthy and strong. Children and parents alike will want to devour the fun facts and charming illustrations of fruits from the familiar banana to the not as familiar yumberry.

“This is my son’s favorite book right now! I love all of the different fruit it highlights in addition to the fun facts it provides around each fruit.”

After you read: Practice fine-motor skills by finding fruits or vegetables in newspapers and flyers and then cutting them out. If your child is little, they can rip them with their hands. Toddlers older than two can snip edges or cut through. For four and five-year-olds, draw a circle around the images so they can follow the line when cutting.

Edible Numbers: Count, Learn, Eat
Jennifer Vogel Bass, author and illustrator
Best for: Two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, five-year-olds

This simple concept counting book will leave your mouth watering as you count from one to twelve with a kaleidoscope of tasty produce. Readers will learn about counting, variety, and color through the detailed, crisp photographs of homegrown and farmer’s market fruits and vegetables!

“I love how this book shows real pictures of the food. Also, I love how the pictures are labeled. It also counts to 12, which I love because typically toddler board books will stop at 10, but I love the additional counting in this one!”

After you read: Talk about colors. “Why are some fruits and vegetables green? What does it mean when a banana is green?”

Brighter Readers Book Crew is a group of early education professionals, child advocates, parents and book-loving experts that want to share their love of stories and books with families all across the state. Want to share the books you love and why you think they are great? Send a message to with the subject line Book Crew.

Read our previous lists:

Jurassic Book Crunch – 13 Fun Reads for Little Dinosaur Fans

November Reading List: Feeling Grateful

Pet Story Time

2018 International Day of the Girl: Great Books about Work