Colorful food depictions abound in classics like 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,' as well as newcomers 'The Candymakers' and 'Can I Eat That?'

Abbey White
October 10, 2017

Whether we realize it or not, food was and remains a recurring theme in many of our favorite childhood tales. Offering writers, illustrators, and readers a chance to play with shapes, colors, and numbers, food has a lot to teach us about the most basic and complicated parts of learning and growing up. From learning to share and understanding moderation to trying new things and being appreciative, children's books featuring food themes have truly earned their spot on bookshelves for generations. Here are ten books for children that combine everything we love about food with some fun and imaginative, but also important lessons.

Blueberries for Sal

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First published in 1948, Blueberries for Sal is easily one of the oldest books on the list. But its age speaks to its generational resonance as a timeless, fruit-filled children's classic. The story follows Sal and her mother as they venture to Blueberry Hill to count and collect berries to can. Little do they know that a momma bear and her cub are out looking for blueberries, too!

Blueberries for Sal, $6 at amazon.com

Bread and Jam for Frances

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In this story, a young Badger named Frances professes her love for bread and jam, requesting that it be the only thing she eats. Her parents, unable to get her to eat anything else, end up granting Frances' wishes and readers' see what happens when you only eat bread and jam for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Frances is one of the most recognizable characters of children's publishing, and Bread and Jam for Frances is a great tale about children's early eating habits and the challenge of keeping their meals balanced.

Bread and Jam for Frances, $3 at amazon.com

Can I Eat That?

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In this playful and informative book, children can find answers to the oh-so-many questions regarding what's on their plate. Using humor and a unique style, young readers are encouraged to get curious and silly about food and the world around them. From asking and answering whether chickens really have "fingers" to playful rhymes about eating tomatoes or tornadoes, this book (as well as its upcoming follow-up What's Cooking?) allows children to unabashedly explore eating.

Can I Eat That?, $12 on amazon.com

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Perhaps Roald Dahl's most famous children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted into two films, a candy line, and even a personalized interactive book. The story follows one boy's adventure into a candy factory where anything in your wildest dreams is possible. Over 50 years after it was first published, the book remains one of the most imaginative, sweetest, and stickiest tales to ever hit bookshelves.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, $8 on amazon.com

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

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One of publishing's most beloved books, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs takes a simple concept to a hilarious extreme. What would you do if you lived in a magical town where food simply fell from the sky? In the beginning, it might seem wonderful, but what if you don't like what's falling? And what if it's too much? The entire book is a beautifully illustrated tale about being careful what you wish for.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, $6 on amazon.com

Green Eggs and Ham

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A Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham is a delightful word romp. Filled with short, memorable rhymes, the tale centers on a single unnamed character (being tormented by Sam-I-am) and his unwillingness to try something new: green eggs and ham. From eating it in a house and with a mouse, to over her and over there, the protagonist is perhaps one of fiction's pickiest eaters. The short book with Seuss's iconic illustrations and coloring make it a must read for teaching kids about keeping an open mind about the unknown and trying new things.

Green Eggs and Ham, $8 on amazon.com

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

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What happens when a mouse stops by and you give them a cookie? As we see in this book, the mouse overstays its welcome by asking for more and more. If you want help teaching your kids about the problem of feeding wild animals (even ones dressed nicely) or why it's important to be conscious of what you're asking of hospitable people, this adorable book full of absurd antics is for you.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, $11 on amazon.com

James and the Giant Peach

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One of Roald Dahl's most famous books, James and the Giant Peach became so well-known and beloved it was adapted into a 1996 Disney movie that combined both live action and stop-motion to bring Dahl's eccentric world to life. The book follows James, a curious and adventurous boy who sprinkles magic crystals by a peach tree causing one of the peaches—and the tree's insect inhabitants—to grow in size, launching James and his new friends on a journey they won't ever forget.

James and the Giant Peach, $8 on amazon.com

The Candymakers

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Readers are taken on a delicious ride as four young competitors are tasked with creating the best confection the country has ever tasted. With their own unique perspective and talent—including being able to detect the color of chocolate by touch alone and lift a 50-pound piece of taffy—each contestant offers us an even more eye-opening look into the candy making process in this tale of mystery, surprises, and friendship.

The Candymakers, $9 on amazon.com

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Arguably one of the most well-known books in children's literature, The Very Hungry Caterpillar follows a growing butterfly larva as it eats its way through watermelons, salami, and cherry pie. The book's shapely and colorful illustrations visually grab young readers, while its subtle commentary about moderation, trying new things, and eating healthy serve as wonderful lessons one can carry into adulthood.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, $7 on amazon.com