People think that because I’m a food editor, my kid must be an adventurous eater.
It doesn’t really work that way! I do expose my one-year-old daughter to a wide variety of foods—basically, everything that I eat, I offer her. But has that made her into a good eater? Not reeeeeeally. I mean, she’ll take down an entire avocado, but when I give her a piece of roast chicken or a meatball, she looks at me like she’s pretty sure she’s adopted.
That’s why I read her lots of fun picture books about food — because they’re great books, and because maybe they’ll make her curious enough to try something new.
Here are 13 of my favorites:
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The best part of this book is when the caterpillar goes on a crazy binge and eats through a piece of chocolate cake, an ice-cream cone, a pickle, a slice of Swiss cheese, a slice of salami, a lollipop, a piece of cherry pie, a sausage, a cupcake, and a slice of watermelon. Then he gets a stomachache. It’s okay though, because—spoiler alert—at the end he turns into a butterfly. Buy it here.
2. A Little Bit of Soul Food by Amy Wilson Sanger
From Amy Wilson Sanger’s fabulous World Snacks series, this board book is all about a soul food family potluck—biscuits and gravy, grits, gumbo and fried chicken. The beautifully textured art is made of quilted fabrics. Super cool for toddlers. Buy it here.
3. Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak
Most people know Maurice Sendak’s dreamy, surreal classic In the Night Kitchen, but this one is less-known and just as wonderful. Each month gets a weirdly sweet little poem about chicken soup with rice. “In March the wind blows down the door and spills my soup upon the floor. It laps it up and roars for more.” Buy it here.
4. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Old school: Originally published in 1948, this book tells the story of a little girl who goes blueberry picking with her mom and hijinks ensue. Hijinks involving a bear. Everyone makes it out alive and gets to eat blueberries, so don’t worry. Buy it here.
5. Bee-Bim Bop! by Ho Baek Lee
A little girl helps her mom make the Korean rice dish bi bim bop and then the whole family sits down to eat. There’s even a bonus kid-friendly bi bim bop recipe at the end. Plus, it’s really fun to say bee! bim! bop! over and over again. Buy it here.
8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
In the land of Chewandswallow, the weather is edible, which is great for a while, but then things get out of hand. (Ahem, climate change.) It’s fun to talk about what YOU would like to have fall from the sky. Buy it here.
10. Chaat and Sweets by Amy Wilson Sanger
This sweet little board book for toddlers is all about Indian street food and snacks like papri chaat, idili and bhel puri. The collage-style art by author Amy Wilson Sanger (who has a whole World Snacks series) is gorgeous and fun. Buy it here.