TEN MULTICULTURAL PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT FOOD BY HELEN H. WU
Cooking and eating is something we all have in common, and it’s something kids easily relate to. Reading about food from around the globe and cooking traditions is a great way to teach children to learn about other cultures, embrace and celebrate differences across race, ethnicity, gender, and appearance.
Here are top ten multicultural children’s picture books about food.
Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu, illustrated by Julie Jarema
Homemade tofu is good, and good things take time. In this charming tale by Helen H. Wu, readers will marvel at how patience brings a whole universe together in a simple dish made by a modern Chinese American family. As an ode to patience and delayed gratification, this book supports the mindset that good things take time—a concept both children and families can apply in many areas of life.
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, told in lively and powerful verse by Kevin Noble Maillard, and vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal. It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.
Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
Gathering watercress by the side of the road brings a girl closer to her family’s Chinese Heritage. Andrea Wang tells a moving autobiographical story of a child of immigrants discovering and connecting with her heritage, illustrated by award winning author and artist Jason Chin, working in an entirely new style. An author’s note in the back shares Andrea’s childhood experience with her parents.
The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup by Hunter Liguore, illustrated by Vikki Zhang
A rumination on our ability to recognize our interconnectedness with all people, that in order to eat a single meal, it takes the whole world to make it. It introduces the readers to the vast army of people and activities behind the making of a simple pot of soup. Hunter Liguore’s beautifully rhythmic prose and Vikki Zhang’s luscious illustrations take us on a true worldwide journey.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
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.
Kalamata’s Kitchen by Sarah Thomas, illustrated by Jo Kosmides Edwards
A charming story about facing fears and overcoming back-to-school jitters. Tomorrow is Kalamata’s first day at a new school, and she’s very nervous! As Kalamata and her alligator friend, Al Dente, transport themselves to a magical land filled with tasty ingredients like in the Indian spice market they visited this summer, she realizes that when we’re nervous about trying new things, food can comfort us and remind us to stay curious, courageous, and compassionate.
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua
Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion? Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong. Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?
Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Ines de Antunano, recipes by Laurel Paula Jackson
In this rhyming picture book, readers follow ten diverse families as they cook dumplings inside their homes in preparation for a neighborhood potluck. Dumplings are added to plates one by one, encouraging children to count with each new addition. Authentic recipes for all the dumplings and a map showing their regions of origin are included in the endnotes.
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
A Korean-American girl celebrates food and family in this cheerful picture book about cooking with Mama. Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped, and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal.
Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author and illustrator, as well as a translator and publisher. She is the author of Tofu Takes Time, illustrated by Julie Jarema (Beaming Books, 2022) and Long Goes To Dragon School, illustrated by Mae Besom (Yeehoo Press, 2023). Helen is the Associate Publisher of Yeehoo Press, a San Diego based children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Born and raised in Hefei, China, currently, Helen resides in San Diego, California. Learn more about Helen at helenhwu.com and follow her on Twitter at @HelenHWu and on Instagram at @HelenHWu.