Delicious Library Resources: Cookbooks, Food Science, Books About Food, and More!

Shanna Kim, Children's Librarian, Children's Literature Department,
Collage of cookbooks and food science books
Did you know that the Los Angeles Public Library has amazing resources on all things food for kids?

Eating delicious food and dreaming of my next meal is getting me through the COVID-19 pandemic, and I'm guessing the same might be true for you and the kids in your life! Along with the communal joy of sharing a tasty meal, there are so many valuable lessons food can offer our little ones: colors, sensory play, kitchen skills, the science of cooking, where our food comes from, nutrition, and history, to list just a few.

Food teaches us what it is to be human and provides delicious gateways to other cultures, places, and ways of being. Food bridges our past, present, and future. Above all, food brings us together. The following Los Angeles Public Library resources will inspire you and your kids to live, learn, and eat deliciously. I hope these mouthwatering resources will bring you joy, spark conversations between you and your child, and perhaps even inspire your next meal.

Bon Appétit!

Food History

Preschool - Kindergarten

Book cover for Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck: A Sesame Street Celebration of Food
Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck: A Sesame Street Celebration of Food
Schwartz, Heather E.

Perfect for introducing food literacy to the younger set. Hop on the foodie truck to learn about recipes, nutrition basics, where our food comes from, and even table manners!

Kindergarten - Third Grade

Book cover for Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
Maillard, Kevin Noble

Experience the diverse cultures of Native Americans today through fry bread, which represents different facets of everyday indigenous life: joy, tragedy, and everything in between. The author is a member of the Seminole Nation and includes his family fry bread recipe along with notes that address and dispel stereotypes, along with facts about Native peoples from yesterday and the modern day.

Book cover for Everybody Cooks Rice
Everybody Cooks Rice
Dooley, Norah.

While searching the neighborhood for her younger brother, Carrie discovers that families from a number of different cultures all cook dishes with rice. Recipes for rice dishes from Barbados, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Vietnam, India, China, and Italy are included.

Book cover for The Scoop on Ice Cream
The Scoop on Ice Cream
Williams, Bonnie

Learn the delicious history of this cold and creamy treat! Includes information about the geography and science discussed in the book, as well as a fun quiz.

Third - Fifth Grade

Book cover for Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix
Martin, Jacqueline Briggs

No list of picture books featuring California foodies would be complete without this delightful book about Los Angeles’ own Roy Choi. From his childhood experiences with all sorts of food (especially his parents’ tasty Korean food) to his experience as a fancy chef, this book follows Choi’s evolution and the creation of Kogi—a food truck mixing the many flavors of Los Angeles. Man One’s graffiti-inspired illustrations further add to this colorful tale. Recommended for ages 5+.

Fun fact: You can read an interview our librarians did with Man One, the illustrator of this book, in this previous blog post.

Book cover for Fanny in France
Fanny in France
Waters, Alice

Famed chef Alice Waters (credited with starting the farm-to-table food movement and pioneering Californian cuisine) recounts the food adventures of her nine year old daughter, Fanny. Journey with Fanny as she eats fresh sea urchin and climbs the Pyrenees Mountains to watch a shepherd make sheep's milk cheese! Includes recipes as well to complete your journey to France.


Kindergarten - Third Grade

Book cover for My First Cookbook: Fun Recipes to Cook Together
My First Cookbook: Fun Recipes to Cook Together

From America's Test Kitchen Kids, these kid-tested, kid-approved beginner recipes will empower the youngest of chefs to make delicious food in the kitchen. Your little chefs will learn how to make snacks, meals, and holiday recipes—and, as the title says, they'll be mixing, rolling, scrunching and squishing to their heart's content! Pro tip: caregivers, this will keep your little one engaged, learning, and very, very busy!

Third - Fifth Grade

Book cover for The Forest Feast for Kids
The Forest Feast for Kids
Gleeson, Erin

For grown up fans of food blogger Erin Gleeson's Forest Feast, here's a cookbook your kids can enjoy too! This vegetarian cookbook is divided into chapters on snacks, drinks, salads, meals, sweets, and parties. Her recipes follow a diagram-like layout, which will be great for visual learners. Gleeson's forested northern Californian home provides a beautiful backdrop for her photographs, and the watercolor illustrations will delight kids and adults alike.

Book cover for The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs
The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

Another America's Test Kitchen title, but you can't argue with expertise and exhaustive recipe testing! This cookbook contains both sweet and savory recipes. It also includes the science behind what makes baked goods so delectable. Deliciously educational!

Book cover for National Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure
National Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure
Seaver, Barton

This cookbook has a little bit of everything: recipes, information on nutrition, crafts and activities, how to plant a garden, host a dinner party, and have family cooking competitions. Oh, did I mention that Seaver is a chef, seafood expert, educator, and National Geographic Explorer?!

Books About Food

Birth - Age Three

Book cover for Feast for 10
Feast for 10
Falwell, Cathryn

Join a loving African-American family as they take you from shopping to cooking to eating a fabulous feast, all by counting from one to ten! Beautiful collage pairs with spare text you and your little one will want to read again and again. Also, this feast features pumpkin pie—just in time for fall!

Book cover for Bee-Bim Bop!
Bee-Bim Bop!
Park, Linda Sue

An eager little girl helps her mama make bee-bim bop, a Korean dish with meat and vegetables mixed with rice and a spicy, sweet, savory sauce. The rhyming text is so fun and bouncy and the little girl's enthusiasm is so endearing that your kids will ask for seconds! Back matter includes the author's recipe.

Book cover for Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant
Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant
Sayre, April Pulley

A celebratory ode to all things vegetable. The bright veggie photographs and lively text will make this a household favorite. 

Preschool - Third Grade

Book cover for Thank You, Omu!
Thank You, Omu!
Mora, Oge

Omu, "queen" in Igbo, which the author used to mean "grandma", has just made a pot of thick, red stew. One by one, her neighbors drift by to investigate the tantalizing aroma drifting from her kitchen. And one by one, she shares her stew until the pot is empty. What will Omu eat for supper now? An uplifting story of sharing and community that will make you feel as if you've just eaten a hearty bowl of Omu's red stew and gotten a big, warm hug.

Book cover for What Can You Do with a Paleta?/Que Puedes Hacer Con una Paleta?
What Can You Do with a Paleta?/Que Puedes Hacer Con una Paleta?
Tafolla, Carmen

Although it's October, this is definitely feeling like an endless summer in more ways than one! There's nothing better than getting through these hot days by enjoying the fun and creativity that icy fruit paletas, which come in many colors and flavors, can inspire with this book. While the text is primarily English, there are Spanish words sprinkled throughout. 

Book cover for A Different Pond
A Different Pond
Phi, Bao

Celebrated poet Bao Phi tells a father-son story based on his own childhood. Bao, a little boy, wakes up before the sun rises to help his father fish for their dinner. As they fish, his father tells him about a different pond in Vietnam. This contemplative, poignant story about the past and present, as well as love, hardship, and heartache, will linger long in your mind and your childrens' minds after you've turned the last page.

Third - Fifth Grade

Book cover for Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Torres, Jennifer

Seventh grader Estefania "Stef" Soto just wants to fit in. That includes getting some independence from her overprotective immigrant parents. Her papi picks her up from school every single day in Tia Perla, his rundown taco truck, and they park wherever he can get some business while Stef finishes homework. Stef is proud of her hardworking and caring parents, but she struggles with how easily her classmates get and do what they want. A heartwarming story about the importance of friends and family. 

Book cover for Bliss
Littlewood, Kathryn

Twelve-year old Rose's mother uses magical ingredients in her baked goods (such as bottled lightning or weasel's yawn) that heal the locals of Calamity Falls. When Rose's parents are called away to combat a summer flu epidemic, they leave Rose and her brother in charge with instructions to NOT use the magical Bliss Cookery Booke. When a mysterious visitor comes and the kids start trying out recipes, chaos and hilarity ensues. A magically delicious read. 

Book cover for Rutabaga the Adventure Chef
Rutabaga the Adventure Chef
Colossal, Eric

Adventure Chef Rutabaga journeys across magical lands with Pot, his walking kettle, to hunt for rare ingredients and monsters (such as dragons) to cook. Along the way he cooks for knights, kings, ghosts, and royal pets. Fans of Adventure Time will appreciate the perfect blend of action and humor in this graphic novel. 

Book cover for Pie in the Sky
Pie in the Sky
Lai, Remy

In this funny, emotional hybrid chapter book/graphic novel, 11-year old Jingwen struggles after his father's accidental death and immigration to Australia. He worries that assimilating means he's leaving his father behind, so decides to bake all the cakes his father would have featured on his dream bakery, Pie in the Sky. Fans of Wimpy Kid will appreciate this title.

Music about Food

Book cover for Fun Food Songs
Fun Food Songs

Treat yourself to Raffi classics like "Down By the Bay", "Bananaphone" (so many sweet puns and delightful wordplay!), and of course, the very fun "Brush Your Teeth", which I sing to my toddler while we floss and brush.

Book cover for Food For Thought
Food For Thought

If you're looking for food song classics, look no further.

Book cover for Sesame Street: C is for Cookie!
Sesame Street: C is for Cookie!

I think the song list is explanation enough: "C is for Cookie—Ten cookies—Me Going to Munch You, Munch You, Munch You—Healthy Food—Me Gotta Be Blue—Goodbye Little Cookie—If Moon Was Cookie—The Ballad of Casey McPhee—Cookie's Rhyming Song—Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco". Also: COOKIES. Pro tip: pair with Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck, linked above, for Sesame Street gold!

Book cover for Laurie Berkner's Food Songs
Laurie Berkner's Food Songs
Berkner, Laurie

Laurie Berkner is just plain wonderful. These fun originals will be enjoyed by your whole family, from littles to grown ups!

The Science of Food

Birth - Age Three

Book cover for Summer Supper
Summer Supper
Pfeffer, Rubin

Farm-to-table, brought to you by the letter "S". First, "Shovel soil", then "sow seeds" and "sprinkle"! After the veggies are "snipped" and off to the farmer's market, farmers "sell" and buyers "sample". Bold illustrations accompany the sparse text, which make it perfect for little ones but can also be aged up. A delight for the eyes, ears, and imagination.

Preschool - Third Grade

Book cover for The Vegetables We Eat
The Vegetables We Eat
Gibbons, Gail

As she has done with countless other nonfiction subjects, Gail Gibbons expertly uses vibrant watercolors and limited text to teach the younger set all about the wonderful world of vegetables—how vegetables grow, get to stores, and more. 

Third - Fifth Grade

ScienceFlix, one of our databases that covers all things science, is your one-stop-shop for quality science content for elementary-aged kids. A search for "food" produced results for food safety, food supply, food distribution, food additives, food groups, food, and culture…you get the idea! Here are links to ScienceFlix's units on nutrition and food science. Pro tip: in the upper right-hand corner you can adjust the Lexile rating to correspond to your child's reading level—just click 1, 2, or 3.

Book cover for Kitchen Science Lab for Kids
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids
Heinecke, Liz Lee

The kitchen or backyard are convenient science laboratories right at home! This book includes 52 science activities designed for families (many are safe enough for toddlers while still being enjoyable for older kids).