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Reading Without Walls: Fabulous Food!

Read about all kinds of foods! We've selected a delicious collection of books that give young readers a chance to taste of a wide range of genres — informational nonfiction, biography, poetry, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, and folktales — as well as different formats (audio books, chapter books, bilingual books, and graphic novels).

This booklist supports the Reading Without Walls Challenge, a nationwide initiative launched by Gene Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

To expand learning around this topic, we also recommend these educational apps:

You may also want to encourage young readers to flex their writing muscles with this food-related writing activity:

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

A Tangle of Knots

By: Lisa Graff
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tasty recipes made by a young orphan named Cady with a special Talent are at the center of the mystery that involves old suitcases and an old peanut recipe — with just a touch of magic. The well-paced plot with its memorable characters unfolds through crisp narration. (Tasty recipes included!)

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo
Illustrated by: Beth Lo
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40-year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.

Chet Gecko's Detective Handbook (and Cookbook): Tips for Private Eyes and Snack Food Lovers

By: Bruce Hale
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This spiral-bound book opens like a detective's pad, holding the insight, advice, humor, and recipes of elementary-aged gecko sleuth, Chet. With comments inserted by Chet's mockingbird friend Natalie, this cheeky, funny, pun-filled pad-folio can be used by itself, but may also lead young readers to other Chet Gecko mystery novels.

Cora Cooks Pancit

By: Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Illustrated by: Kristi Valiant
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Cora wants to learn how to cook, but she's too young to do the jobs her older siblings do. One day, however, after the older kids have all gone out together, Cora asks her mother what they can cook together. To her surprise, Cora's mother asks her what she would like to make, and Cora chooses her favorite Filipino noodle dish, pancit. This family story about the importance of sharing tradition is brought to life by Kristi Valiant's charming illustrations and includes a bilingual glossary of Tagalog words.

Emeril's There's A Chef in My World! Recipes That Take You Places

By: Emeril Lagasse
Illustrated by: Charles Yuen
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

People the world over have one thing in common: from England to China, from Greece to Brazil and all places in-between, everyone eats! Starting with kitchen basics, the well-known chef guides a world culinary tour. Adults and kids are bound to enjoy making and eating these tempting recipes.

Fanny in France: Travel Adventures of a Chef's Daughter, with Recipes

By: Alice Waters
Illustrated by: Ann Arnold
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Fresh Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market

By: Michelle Schaub
Illustrated by: Amy Huntington
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

As the weather warms farmers’ markets begin to open. Celebrate the start of the season through lively illustrations and short poems that allow communities from large cities to small towns to “…teem with farmers and their goods — /tasty transformations.”

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup

By: Sharon Creech
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

More than just delicious food comes from Granny Torrelli’s kitchen. The recipes for friendship and family are there in abundance for Rosie and her pal Bailey as they listen to Granny’s timeless tales.

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food

By: Lucia Gaggiotti
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ever wonder how the food we eat came to be in a lunchbox? Brief text and lively illustrations describe food starts as well as healthy eating habits.

How My Parents Learned to Eat

By: Ina Friedman
Illustrated by: Allen Say
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When an American sailor meets a Japanese woman, they both try in secret to learn the other's way of eating. Their courtship and growing love culminates in marriage. This realistic family story explores cultural similarities and differences and is told with humor and honesty by the couple's daughter.

Salsa Stories

By: Lulu Delacre
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Carmen Teresa receives a blank journal on New Year's Day, she begins filling it with tales and memories from her loved ones. Finding that food is the common thread, the journal becomes a cookbook of stories, infused with Latin American flavor. Gentle lessons are conveyed along the way in this lovely book. Available in Spanish and English versions.

Stone Rabbit: Ninja Slice

By: Eric Craddok
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this latest in the graphic novel series, Stone Rabbit and his friend save a homemade pizza business, defeating the incredibly speedy but totally mediocre new pizzeria, the Ninja Slice. Lots of comic book illustration and action create the book's appeal.

Stone Soup

By: Jon J Muth
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A traditional tale has set in China as three Zen monks come to a remote village where residents are wary of strangers. The villagers gradually add ingredients to the initial soup the monks begin from a stone, building a community feast. Radiant illustrations successfully recast the tale.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut

By: Pat Miller
Illustrated by: Vincent Kirsch
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A seafaring cook named Hanson Crockett Gregory is credited with inventing the sweet fried treats we know as doughnuts. Lighthearted, rounded illustrations combine with a humorous narrative to explore the fact and fiction of Hanson and his tasty innovation.

The Story of Johnny Appleseed

By: Aliki
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Myths and Legends
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Once, long ago, a young man named John Chapman traveled the United States. Not only did he like being with his own thoughts, he liked apples and so helped plant apple trees wherever he traveled gaining a nickname and planting seeds for an orchard of stories. Johnny Appleseed comes alive in simple but expressive illustrations showing how one person can change the look of a country.

¡Yum! & ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Celebrate the native foods of the Americas — peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more — through haiku poetry and stunning artwork from award-winning illustrator Rafael López.

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