This year, Food Tank is spotlighting 20 books for young readers that will ignite their curiosity about the foods they consume and their worldwide connections. With tales of flourishing gardens, generations bonding over shared meals, and guidance on building an environmentally responsible food ecosystem, these books instill an awareness of how their dietary choices impact well-being, communities, and the environment.
1. Anansi And The Golden Pot by Taiye Selasi, illustrated by Tinuke Fagborun
In this reimagined West African tale by author Taiye Selasi, readers meet Kweku, affectionately called Anansi, which means spider. And Kweku hears stories from his family of Anansi, the clever spider. During a visit to his grandmother in Ghana, Anansi the spider and Anansi the boy encounter a magical pot that fulfills their desires. Yet Anansi’s love for red-red stew teaches him an important lesson in sharing.
2. Big Tree by Brian Selznick
In Big Tree, two young Sycamore seeds embark on a journey into the unknown, where they must adapt to their surroundings to survive. The Sycamore seeds, Louise and her brother Merwin, dream of setting down roots and growing into big trees. When a fire forces them to leave their mama tree prematurely, they are sent find into the unknown, far from home.
3.Boo Stew by Donna L. Washington, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Author Donna L. Washington crafts a creative spooky spin on the classic Goldilocks tale. In the book, Curly Locks, known for her terrible cooking, discovers that one of her peculiar dishes has gone missing. Chaos ensues as the Scares of Toadsuck Swamp wreak havoc, but Curly Locks believes her unusual culinary skills might just save the day demonstrating bravery and food curiosity.
4. Can I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Romer, illustrated by Christie Young.
Can I Recycle This? delves into the question of which everyday items can be recycled. The book explores the complexities of recycling systems and varying rules across different communities, offering a user-friendly guide to help readers make informed recycling decisions. Author Jennie Romer, an expert in waste management, aims to change how readers view waste disposal and encourage better practices.
5. Eat Your Superpowers!: How Colorful Foods Keep You Healthy and Strong by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Serge Bloch
This colorful reference book breaks down the nutritional value of twenty-five different foods, organized by color. From grapes and beets to oatmeal and cashews, it highlights the health benefits of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Serge Bloch’s delightful illustrations add humor and make it an engaging guide to food facts for all ages.
6. Food for the Future: Sustainable Farms Around the World by Mia Wenjen, illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng
Author Mia Wenjen writes about a worldwide adventure to eco-friendly farms, exploring various sustainable farming techniques. Food for the Future showcases methods and innovations for addressing the challenges of climate change in agriculture. With rhyming text and simplified vocabulary explanations, this picture book is perfect for young learners and provides detailed insights into different countries’ farming practices and sustainability efforts.
7. Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama by Loree Griffin Burns, illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz
Honeybee Rescue introduces readers to Mr. Nelson as he skillfully relocates a bee colony from a farmer’s barn to a hive. Ellen Harasimowicz’s bright images bring this bee-saving adventure to life. The book provides valuable insights for nature lovers and budding scientists on safeguarding honeybees and our ecosystem.
8. I’m Hungry! / ¡Tengo Hambre! by Angela Dominguez
This bilingual picture book features a talkative bluebird and an indecisive T. Rex who embarks on a quest to discover his ideal meal. Along the way, readers are introduced to fundamental Spanish and English food terms. As the story unfolds, children are invited to explore what satisfies the dinosaur’s appetite, making it an engaging read.
9. In the Night Garden by Carin Berger
Through poetic text and hand-cut collage illustrations, the book invites readers to explore the magic of the night garden. Young readers and their families can enjoy this soothing and visually captivating bedtime experience, fostering an appreciation for the environment.
10. I Want An Apple: How My Body Works by David L. Harrison
Author David L. Harrison uses simple lyrics to craft a playful journey through a girl’s body parts as they work together to find, eat, and digest an apple. Full of bright images, it serves as a fun way to discuss the importance of nourishing our bodies with wholesome food to maintain strength and foster growth.
11. Just Try One Bite by Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey, illustrated by Mike Boldt
Authors Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey present a humorous role reversal as three determined kids challenge their picky-eater parents to try healthy foods. With entertaining rhymes, children discover the fun of making smarter and healthier choices than their parents. This delightful story encourages both kids and parents to embark on a playful culinary adventure, where even the grown-ups might discover a newfound love for nutritious meals.
12. Let Me Fix You Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly
This family road trip story celebrates the author’s American and Colombian heritage, blending the warmth and love of two distinct cultures. Whether traveling to the mountains of rural West Virginia or the sultry heat of Florida to visit family, there’s no better welcome than a homemade meal. The vibrant illustrations highlight the kitchen as the heart of the home and what is discovered when a family gathers to celebrate their culture and one another.
13. Luli And The Language Of Tea by Andrea Wang
Luli and the Language of Tea tells a heartwarming story where children from different backgrounds come together over tea, showing how food and culture can connect people. Luli, a five-year-old, uses a tea party to bridge language barriers, and as they share tea, they celebrate the importance of food and farming in their lives. The book, inspired by the author’s own experiences, emphasizes how shared experiences create a sense of community.
14. My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith
Author Jordan Scott tells the story of a boy and his grandmother, Baba, who share a deep connection through gardening and meals, despite their language differences. As time passes, the boy has the chance to care for Baba, reflecting the universal emotions tied to family and cherished moments together. This beautifully illustrated book, emphasizes the role of gardening and food in fostering these connections.
15. Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Nell Plants a Tree is a picture book that highlights how a little girl nurtures a pecan tree, which becomes the center of her family. This story, inspired by author Anne Wynter’s memories, highlights the tree’s growth and its significance in food and family. As Nell watches the tree flourish and bear pecans, it connects her to her family’s history and teaches her the valuable lessons of patience and the joy of reaping the fruits of her labor.
16. Noodles, Please! (A To Z Foods of the World) by Cheryl Yau Chepusova
This alphabet book takes readers on a flavorful journey through 26 noodle dishes from around the world. With vibrant illustrations and cultural insights, it explores the rich diversity of noodle-based dishes, providing a delightful introduction to global cuisines for readers of all ages. From Ash Reshteh in Iran to Zaru Soba in Japan, this book celebrates the culinary universality and versatility of noodles, inviting readers to savor the cultural tapestry woven with every slurp and bite.
17. Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja, illustrated by Shiho Pate
In this charming picture book, Hiro dreams of making the perfect ramen like his dad. But his first attempt doesn’t go as planned, and he worries he’ll never become a real ramen chef. With his father’s advice and his own creativity, Hiro learns that perfection is unique to each person, embracing the values of family and individuality.
18. Spicy Spicy Hot! by Lenny Wen
Lenny Wenn tells the story of Lintang as she eagerly tries her grandmother’s spicy sambal but finds it overwhelmingly hot. Determined to embrace her heritage, Lintang explores different types of sambal with her grandmother’s guidance, hoping to connect with her Indonesian roots. This book highlights the relationship between food, culture, and identity.
19. Thank You, Mama! by Linda Meeker
Grey, a popular TikTok star, expresses his gratitude for healthy foods in this picture book, teaching kids about manners and the joy of sharing meals with family. The book is playful, encourages children to try various foods, emphasizes respect and thankfulness, and helps build vocabulary and early reading skills with colorful food illustrations.
20. The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker
The Tree and the River, a captivating wordless picture book, explores the evolution of human civilization alongside nature. Through compelling illustrations, it follows a family’s journey from a small farm to a thriving town, emphasizing the growing influence of people on the environment.
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