15 Children’s Picture Books for Young Food Activists

by Lily Zaballos

The holidays are a perfect time to snuggle up with your little ones for story time or to give a book to a child you may know. These recent releases tell the stories of cooks, gardeners, farmers, children and families as they explore the many aspects of food. With selections for babies to elementary schoolers, these vibrant picture books will take your young food lovers on a journey to learn about growing food, global cuisine, healthy nutrition, cooking, beekeeping, food idioms and more. 

The Farm That Feeds Us: A year in the life of an organic farm

Author: Nancy Castaldo, Illustrator: Ginnie Hsu

Topic: Farming, Food Systems

Age level: 7-11 years

Publisher/Publication date: words & pictures, 2020

What it’s about: “Where does our food come from? What role do farms play? What’s it like to be a farmer? In this charmingly illustrated book, follow a farm throughout the year to discover how the farmer grows fresh and tasty food for us to eat in a sustainable and natural way.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, Amazon

Our Little Kitchen

Author: Jillian Tamaki

Topic: Cooking, Community 

Age level: 4-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: Abrams, 2020

What it’s about:In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors comes together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another. Bonus materials include recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, Powells, Amazon

Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood

Author: Tony Hillery, Illustrator: Jessie Hartland

Topic: Gardening, Farming, Community, Food Systems

Age level: 4-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2020

What it’s about: “Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s ‘charmingly busy art’ (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, Amazon

Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration

Editor: America’s Test Kitchen Kids 

Topic: Cooking and Food, Holidays

Age level: 4-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: America’s Test Kitchen, 2020

What it’s about:This humorous and heart-warming story from the creators of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs celebrates the love of cooking and helps children overcome their fear of trying new foods and includes an ATK recipe for the perfect pie.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, Bookline Booksmith, Amazon, America’s Test Kitchen Shop

Icing on the Cake: Food Idioms (A Multicultural Book)

Author: Troon Harrison, Illustrator: Joyeeta Neogi

Topic:  Diversity & Multicultural, Cooking & Food

Age level: 5-11 years

Publisher/Publication date: Language Lizard, 2020

What it’s about: What does it mean to use your noodle? Why would you spill the beans? Idioms can be confusing, but they help you to understand English and are a lot of fun to learn! With clever multicultural illustrations, idiom meanings, and example sentences, Icing on the Cake explains common food idioms in a way that makes them easy to understand. It’s a perfect book to build language skills while having fun!”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Books-a-Million, Bookshop, Amazon

Every Night Is Pizza Night

Author: J. Kenji López-Alt, Illustrator: Gianna Ruggiero

Topic: Cooking & Food, Community, Diversity & Multicultural

Age level: 3-7 years

Publisher/Publication date: Norton Young Readers, 2020

What it’s about: “Pipo thinks that pizza is the best. No, Pipo knows that pizza is the best. It is scientific fact. But when she sets out on a neighborhood-spanning quest to prove it, she discovers that “best” might not mean what she thought it meant. Warm and funny, with bright, whimsical illustrations by Gianna Ruggiero, Every Night Is Pizza Night is a story about open-mindedness, community, and family. With a bonus pizza recipe for young readers to cook with their parents, Every Night Is Pizza Night will make even the pickiest eaters hungry for something new.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Indigo, Bookshop, Amazon

Grandma’s Gardens

Authors: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, Illustrator: Carme Lemniscates 

Topic: Gardening, Community

Age level: 4-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: Penguin Random House, Philomel Books Imprint, 2020

What it’s about: Grandma Dorothy shared her love of gardens with her daughter, Hillary, and her granddaughter, Chelsea. She taught them that gardens are magical places to learn, exciting spaces for discovery, quiet spots to spend time with family and beautiful areas to share stories and celebrate special occasions. But most of all, she taught them that in her gardens, her love grew and blossomed. In this inspiring and heartwarming mother-daughter story, Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton team up to show readers how sharing the things we love with the people we love can create powerful, everlasting bonds between generations.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Indigo, Amazon

Babaroo the Alien and the Magic of Healthy Food: A Funny Children’s Book about Good Eating Habits 

Author: Kate Melton

Topic: Cooking & Food, Nutrition & Diet

Age level: 2-5 years

Publisher/Publication date: Independently published, 2020

What it’s about: “When Babaroo the alien visits planet Earth for the first time, he feels so hungry that he starts trying everything he sees and gets into trouble. Will he be able to find good food on our planet? Hilarious illustrations of this funny children’s book will make your kids of ages 2, 3, 4, 5 giggle and fall in love with the adorable little monster, while learning that eating healthy, washing hands and drinking water encourage healthy lifestyle we all need to adopt as early as possible in order to maintain good health and avoid eating disorders.”

Where to purchase: IndieBound, Books-a-Million, Amazon

Plant & Grow (John Deere Lift-A-Flap Board Book)

Author: Jack Redwing, Illustrator: Katie Hickey 

Topic: Farming

Age level: 1-5 years

Publisher/Publication date: Cottage Door Press, 2020

What it’s about:Introduce your little one to the wonderful world of farming with this adorable and sturdy board book filled with fun farm facts, tractors, harvesting machinery, and lively rural scenes designed to educate and entertain your little John Deere enthusiast. Simple sentences reinforce future language structure while grasping and lifting the durable flaps helps develop fine motor skills. A perfect first farm book!”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, Amazon

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Author: Kevin Noble Maillard, Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal

Topic: Cooking & Food, Community, Diversity & Multicultural

Age level: 3-6 years

Publisher/Publication date: Roaring Brook/Macmillan, 2019

What it’s about: “Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, Powells, Amazon 

Right This Very Minute: A Table-To-farm Book about Food and Farming

Author: Lisl H. Detlefsen, Illustrator: Renée Kurilla

Topic: Farming, Food Systems

Age level: 5-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: Feeding Minds Press, 2019

What it’s about:What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? Then you need a farmer. You have the stories, the knowledge, the hard work, the pride, and the dedication of so many right here on your table, in your hands, in your lunchbox, on your plate, and on your fork. Award-winners Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renée Kurilla’s delicious celebration of food and farming is sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from—right this very minute!”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, Books-a-Million, Amazon

Let’s Eat!: Mealtime Around the World

Author: Lynne Marie

Topic: Food & Eating, Diversity & Multicultural

Age level: 4-8 years

Publisher/Publication date: Beaming Books, 2019

What it’s about: Dig in to this fun and informational book that explores foods from 13 countries around the world. Meet characters from countries including Sweden, Peru, Pakistan, Nigeria, and more as they enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be inspired to try something new and learn about other cultures. Let’s eat!”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Amazon, Beaming Books

Hello, World! How Do Apples Grow?

Author: Jill McDonald 

Topic: Farming

Age level: 0-3 years

Publisher/Publication date: Random House, 2019

What it’s about: Young children love to eat apples and go to orchards. Here’s a Hello, World! board book that teaches toddlers all about how apples grow—from seed to sapling to tree to applesauce….Told in clear and easy terms (‘Apple seeds start to grow when they are planted in soil and given sunlight, water, and fresh air’) and featuring bright, cheerful illustrations, Hello, World! is a perfect way to bring science, nature, and culture into the busy world of a toddler, where learning never stops.”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, Powells, Bookshop, Amazon

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

Editor: Little Gestalten, Illustrator, Contributor: Beth Walrond

Topic: Food & Eating, Diversity & Multicultural, Community, Holiday

Age level: 6-10 years

Publisher/Publication date: Little Gestalten, 2019

What it’s about: “Festive feasts from around the world to bring people together, celebrate and share stories. Food glorious food! Everyone loves a feast with the family … even the little ones! A Taste of the World travels across the globe uncovering different dishes, traditions, cultures and festivals from Egypt to Germany, from China to America. Learn about the origins of Thanksgiving in America, Bastille Day in France, Christmas in Germany, Hanami in Japan, Chinese New Year, and a good old roast dinner in the UK. A Taste of the World will give you an appetite to explore – not just through your belly. Beth Walrond creates striking color palettes, playful textures and idiosyncratic characters that joyously warm each spread”

Where to purchase: Barnes and Noble, Gestalten, Amazon

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer

Author: Aneta Frantiska Holasová, Translator: Andrew Lass

Topic: Farming, Diversity & Multicultural

Age level: 7-10 years

Publisher/Publication date: Candlewick Press, 2021 (pending release)

What it’s about: With glowing, honey-hued illustrations and friendly text, this homespun year-in-the-life of a busy beekeeper and his bees is a definitive picture book primer—whether for families contemplating a new hobby or for readers just curious to know how bees make honey. Gracefully translated from the original Czech—and paired with charming folk-style art that evokes the rural setting and cozy kitchen of a blended beekeeping family (complete with Grandma’s recipe for homemade honey-gingerbread cookies)—this charming ode to sustainability and fostering nature’s small wonders will delight readers of every stripe.

Where to pre-order: Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, Powells, Amazon

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