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13 Delicious Picture Books that Celebrate Food, Family, and Culture



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Food is a powerful connector. As we explore the diverse world of foods, we learn that while there are differences, there are also many similarities. These picture books help readers connect to and celebrate a diverse group of foods, cultures, and families. From soul food on Sundays to kimchi, pancit, sushi, and more, readers are sure to see themselves in these books, while also learning about the diverse people, food, and cultures who live around them and in the world.



Magic Ramen Children's Book

Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world's most popular foods.


Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab--a little shed in his backyard. For years, he'd dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he'd seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting. With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world's most popular foods.

Purchase: Bookshop


In this remarkable author-illustrator debut that's perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street and Extra Yarn, a generous woman is rewarded by her community.


Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu's delicious stew One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?


Debut author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu's stew, with an extra serving of love. An author's note explains that Omu (pronounced AH-moo) means queen in the Igbo language of her parents, but growing up, she used it to mean Grandma. This book was inspired by the strong female role models in Oge Mora's life.

Purchase: Bookshop


Padma Lakshmi, bestselling author and host of Bravo's Top Chef and Hulu's Taste the Nation, and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal team up in this celebration of food and family.


"Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of cooking with the women in my family. It is the foundation for all I have spent my life working on." -Padma Lakshmi


Neela loves cooking with her amma and writing down the recipes in her notebook. It makes her feel closer to her paati who lives far away in India. On Saturdays, Neela and Amma go to the green market and today they are buying tomatoes to make Paati's famous sauce. But first, Neela needs to learn about all the different kinds of tomatoes they can pick from. And as Neela and Amma cook together, they find a way for Paati to share in both the love and the flavors of the day.


Bestselling author and host of Bravo's Top Chef and Hulu's Taste the Nation Padma Lakshmi takes young readers on an intergenerational journey full of delicious flavors and fun food facts that celebrates a family's treasured recipes. And Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal brings this circle of women to life with vivid detail and warmth. Tomatoes for Neela lovingly affirms how we can connect to other cultures, as well as to our own, through food.

Purchase: Bookshop


Yoomi loves Grandma's cooking--except for stinky, spicy kimchi, the pickled cabbage condiment served at Korean meals.


You can't eat it because you're a baby, her brothers tease. And they don't play with babies. Determined to prove she's not a baby, Yoomi tries to find a way to make kimchi taste better--but not even ice cream can help. Luckily, Grandma has a good idea, and soon everyone has a new food to enjoy.


Celebrating family, food, and growing up, this story about a Korean-American family will appeal to picky eaters and budding foodies alike. Aram Kim's lively art is filled with expressive characters and meticulous details--and of course, mouth-watering illustrations of traditional Korean dishes and ingredients. Backmatter includes information about kimchi and how it's made, and best of all, a recipe for Grandma's kimchi pancakes to try yourself!

Purchase: Bookshop



Soul Food Sunday Children's Book Bingham

Granny teaches her grandson to cook the family meal in this loving celebration of food, traditions, and gathering together at the table


On Sundays, everyone gathers at Granny's for Soul Food.

But today, I don't go to the backyard or the great room.

I follow Granny instead.

"You're a big boy now," Granny says. "Time for you to learn."


At Granny's, Sunday isn't Sunday without a big family gathering over a lovingly prepared meal. Old enough now, our narrator is finally invited to help cook the dishes for the first time: He joins Granny in grating the cheese, cleaning the greens, and priming the meat for Roscoe Ray's grill. But just when Granny says they're finished, her grandson makes his own contribution, sweetening this Sunday gathering--and the many more to come.

Evocatively written and vividly illustrated, this mouthwatering story is a warm celebration of tradition and coming together at a table filled with love and delicious food.

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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.


Fry bread is food.

It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.


Fry bread is time.

It brings families together for meals and new memories.


Fry bread is nation.

It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.


Fry bread is us.

It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.

Purchase: Bookshop





This stunning picture book looks into the life of Georgia Gilmore, a hidden figure of history who played a critical role in the civil rights movement and used her passion for baking to help the Montgomery Bus Boycott achieve its goal.


Georgia decided to help the best way she knew how.

She worked together with a group of women and together they purchased the supplies they needed-bread, lettuce, and chickens. And off they went to cook.

The women brought food to the mass meetings that followed at the church. They sold sandwiches. They sold dinners in their neighborhoods.

As the boycotters walked and walked, Georgia cooked and cooked.


Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from "nowhere" to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!

Purchase: Bookshop



Join the celebration in the kitchen as a family makes their traditional New Year's soup -- and shares the story of how Haitian independence came to be.


The shake-shake of maracas vibrates down to my toes.

Ti Gran's feet tap-tap to the rhythm.


Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup -- Freedom Soup -- just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle's family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle's family is from. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara's lush illustrations bring to life both Belle's story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles's lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.

Purchase: Bookshop




Cora and Mama work together to cook up pancit for the family in this celebration of Filipino heritage and foods.

Cora loves being in the kitchen, but she always gets stuck doing the kid jobs like licking the spoon. One day, however, when her older sisters and brother head out, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama's assistant chef. And of all the delicious Filipino dishes that dance through Cora's head, she and Mama decide to make pancit, her favorite noodle dish.


With Mama's help, Cora does the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles (perhaps Mama won't notice if she takes a nibble of chicken or sloshes a little water on the floor). Cora even gets to stir the noodles in the pot-carefully-- while Mama supervises. When dinner is finally served, her siblings find out that Cora did all their grown-up tasks, and Cora waits anxiously to see what everyone thinks of her cooking.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore's text delightfully captures the warmth between mother and daughter as they share a piece of their Filipino heritage. With bright and charming illustrations by Kristi Valiant, Cora's family comes alive as Cora herself becomes the family's newest little chef.

Purchase: Bookshop



Set at one young boy's annual family reunion, this Caldecott Honor-winning picture book by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter is a rich and moving celebration of Black history, culture, and the power of family traditions.


"On reunion morning, we rise before the sun. Daddy hums as he packs our car with suitcases and a cooler full of snacks. He says there's nothing like going down home."


Down home is Granny's house. Down home is where Lil Alan and his parents and sister will gather with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to their family history. All the kids have to decide what they'll share, but what will Lil Alan do?


Kelly Starling Lyons' eloquent text explores the power of history and family traditions, and stunning illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor- and Caldecott Honor-winner Daniel Minter reveal the motion and connections in a large, multi-generational family.

Purchase: Bookshop



In this contemporary tale, a boy is reluctant to go to his family reunion, which he's sure will be boring. Vivid, poetic language and rich illustrations bring readers along for the boy's emotional journey, as he ultimately finds himself enjoying the large and joyous gathering in spite of himself. This modern kid's-eye view depiction of a Black American extended family celebrates the importance of kinship and intergenerational ties.

Purchase: Bookshop



Niki Nakayama Childrens Book

Niki Nakayama: A Chef's Tale in 13 Bites is a picture book biography that tells the story of the powerhouse female Japanese-American chef and her rise to fame


As a child and adult, Niki faced many naysayers in her pursuit of haute cuisine. Using the structure of a traditional kaiseki meal, the authors Debbi Michiko Florence and Jamie Michalak playfully detail Niki's hunger for success in thirteen bites -- from wonton wrappers she used to make pizza as a kid to yuzu-tomatillo sauce in her own upscale Los Angeles Michelin-starred restaurant, n/naka.


To anyone who tells her a woman can't be a master chef, Niki lets her food do the talking. And oh, does it talk. Niki was featured on the first season of Netflix's culinary documentary series Chef's Table. And Chrissy Teigen proclaimed that Niki's restaurant was one of her absolute favorites. She's currently a featured teacher on MasterClass.


A smart, strong woman with starpower, Niki is only just getting started -- like the young readers who will devour this book, featuring illustrations by Yuko Jones!

Purchase: Bookshop




A vibrant picture book celebrating the strength of community and the tastes of summer from Latin Grammy-winning musician Lucky Diaz and celebrated artist Micah Player.


Ring! Ring! Ring! Can you hear his call? Paletas for one! Paletas for all!


What's the best way to cool off on a hot summer day? Run quick and find Paletero José!

Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator's pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now.


Full of musicality, generosity, kindness, and ice pops, this book is sure to satisfy fans of Thank You, Omu! and Carmela Full of Wishes. Includes Spanish words and phrases throughout, an author's note from Lucky Diaz, and a link to a live version of the Lucky Band's popular song that inspired the book.

Purchase: Bookshop


Your turn! Which books would you add to this list? Let us know.



 

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