25+ Delicious English and Chinese Picture Books About Food

Realistic, Montessori-friendly Chinese picture books about food for children

Warning: reading this book review might make you hungry! 😛 Over the years, we’ve been collecting great English and Chinese picture books about all types of food. Reading about food is almost as fun as eating, right?

Our children’s favorite stories have detailed, realistic food illustrations and/or photographs! The books here are generally suitable for the 3-8year old age range; for reference, my son is 4 and my daughter is 7. Most are compatible with Luka Reading Robot / Luka Hero which I have reviewed here. Many books also have free narration on Ximalaya and Youtube.

Please note the following:

  • If a book is listed as Luka compatible, this refers to the simplified Chinese version of the book. If the book cover and illustrations of traditional Chinese and English versions are the same, then Luka will likely be able to narrate the book. However, the translation may be different due to variations between publishers.
  • Linked bookstores are suggestions, but remember to check the library and compare prices.
Child reading Chinese story books about food with Luka reading companion
Reading great books with Luka on comfy playmat

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Benefits of reading picture books about food

In general, daily reading is important for introducing new vocabulary, bonding, and developing an open mind for new concepts. Since I’m not a great cook and our local restaurants are culturally limited, we’re living vicariously through all of the various meals presented in these books!

Related: 15 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read

In addition, since my younger child has several food allergies, we restrict what we eat together as a family. Therefore, reading has been a safe way for us to explore foods that we don’t typically eat.

I hope you can find some of these books in your favorite online Chinese bookstore or library!

Delicious English and Chinese Picture Books About Food

Educational resources about food in Chinese and English

Picture Books About Food in Chinese

Here are our favorite picture books about food in Chinese!

Mama Buys Green Beans 妈妈买绿豆 / 媽媽買綠豆

Mama, Let’s Buy Mung Beans 妈妈,买绿豆 / 媽媽,買綠豆

This is hands down one of our favorite books! A Taiwanese boy and his mother spend the day learning how to wash mung beans, cook mung bean soup, make mung bean popsicles, and grow mung beans. The relatively sparse text is paired with vivid illustrations. These images reveal much more about the family’s special learning and bonding experience from a seemingly simple day.

Mama Buys Green Beans 妈妈买绿豆 / 媽媽買綠豆

Where to buy

Audio narration

好想吃榴莲 I Really Want To Eat A Durian

I Really Want To Eat A Durian 好想吃榴莲 / 好想吃榴槤

This anthropomorphic book snuck into this post, because it came highly recommended by many lovely parents from Singapore and Malaysia.

A little mouse is curious about durian, a sweet, creamy Southeast Asian fruit that is notorious for being the stinkiest food in the world! He asks his animal friends to tell him what it tastes like, but they are unable to satisfy him with their explanations. So he decides to try it on his own!

We have the simplified Chinese version as shown in the image below. Note that the traditional Chinese version has a Zhuyin and comes with a bilingual CD and booklet.

好想吃榴莲 I Really Want To Eat A Durian Chinese picture book for kids

Where to buy

Audio narration

Food from nature - simplified Chinese picture books Where Is Rice From 大米从哪里来 Favorite Chocolate 最爱巧克力 Soya! Turned! 大豆!变身! Milk Is Turing 牛奶大变身 Honey Is Ready 蜂蜜做好啦

Food from nature

Originally written in Japanese, this translated series features detailed and intriguing photographs of where common foods come from. Although this book is the most scientific of the options here, my kids are fascinated about learning about the origins of common food. The images include Asian-appearing people, and the set of 5 books cover the following topics:

  • Where Is Rice From 大米从哪里来
  • Favorite Chocolate 最爱巧克力
  • Tofu! Changing! 大豆!变身!
  • Milk Transformation 牛奶大变身
  • Honey Is Ready 蜂蜜做好啦

In each of the books, the laborious process of farm to table is shown. For example, in the 牛奶大变身 book about milk, a mother cow nurses her baby calf, while the following page shows a farmer milking a cow. Subsequent pages show how milk can be used to make cheese, milk, and butter.

大豆!变身! shows edamame and soy beans growing in a garden. These soy beans are used to make soy milk and tofu. The last few pages conclude with various types of decadent tofu dishes.

Where Is Rice From 大米从哪里来 Honey Is Ready 蜂蜜做好啦
Top: Where Is Rice From 大米从哪里来, Bottom: Honey Is Ready 蜂蜜做好啦
Favorite Chocolate 最爱巧克力! Milk Is Changing 牛奶大变身
Top: Milk Transformation 牛奶大变身; Bottom: Favorite Chocolate 最爱巧克力

As you can see in the photos, the font is really tiny. The good news is the Luka narrates all of the tiny words, so my tired eyes are happy!

Where to buy

Families looking for traditional Chinese books about Tofu may enjoy 豆腐 (Tofu) / ISBN: 9789869425049.

Audio narration: Luka Reading Robot

香喷喷的早饭我要吃 Picture book about delicious Chinese food
香喷喷的早饭我要吃 Picture book about delicious Chinese food

香喷喷的早饭我要吃 Delicious Breakfast

We were gifted this beautifully illustrated book, and the pictures make me so hungry! Each page features a close-up picture of a popular Chinese dish with smaller whimsical illustrations of the preparation steps. This book was originally written in simplified Chinese.

香喷喷的早饭我要吃 Picture book about delicious Chinese food

Where to buy

Audio narration

  • Mandarin: Luka Reading Robot
爷爷的肉丸子汤 Chinese picture book for kids
爷爷的肉丸子汤

Grandpa’s Meatball Soup 爷爷的肉丸子汤 / 爺爺的肉丸子湯

Originally published in Japanese, this heartwarming picture book begins with an elderly man who lives alone and cooks for himself. As he cooks a delicious meatball soup, each step is illustrated on the pages, and little animals come to keep him company. Later, ethnically diverse children arrive at his door, and he delightfully serves them his soup.

Grandpa's Meatball Soup 爷爷的肉丸子汤 / 爺爺的肉丸子湯

Where to buy

Audio narration

盘中餐 / 盤中餐 Chinese picture book for children about rice

Rice 盘中餐 / 盤中餐

This book was also gifted to us, and wow! The illustrations are so impressive. Rice is a staple in Asian culture, and the story shows where a single grain of rice originates from before it becomes part of a meal at our table. The book shows how hard farmers work to cultivate the fields and the science required for crops to grow successfully.

This picture book would be suitable for lower to middle elementary students depending on their Chinese fluency.

Rice 盘中餐 / 盤中餐 Chinese story book about food

Where to buy

Audio narration

新加坡华族传统食品系列 Traditional food of Singaporean Chinese series

新加坡华族传统食品系列 Singaporean Chinese Food Series

This adorable series features a brother and sister who learn how to make popular Chinese dishes with some one in their family. We love how the dad, mom, grandpa, and grandma are involved with encouraging practical life skills (cooking) and culture. The full story is in simplified Chinese with Hanyu Pinyin. The end of the book has photographs of real food with Chinese text (no Pinyin).

Where to buy

郝广才 Books about Asian food with Youdao Dictionary Pen
Reading 郝广才 Books about Asian food with Youdao Dictionary Pen

郝广才 Books about Asian food

Taiwanese author 郝广才 has written these rhythmic, gorgeous books about Asian food! The illustrations in each book are incredibly detailed, and cultural staples (rice, tea, soup) are celebrated in each story.

For example, in 米食乐 / 米食樂, people of various ethnicities go to a restaurant and order various rice-based dishes. The dialogue between the hostess and guests reveals the taste, textures, recipe, and special significance of the menu. 米食乐 is one of my son’s favorite books.

On the other hand, 妈妈的一碗汤 / 媽媽的一碗湯 is more of a reflective, poetic story. A girl shares about all of the various soups her mother has made and the significant milestones that occurred with each soup, such as before a test. Her grandmother gives her a diary to record the many soup recipes, each made with love. This book makes me super nostalgic for my mother!

In , a girl gathers tea leaves with her family in preparation for their tea ceremony featuring various types of tea. This book is more interesting to my daughter but not as relevant to my son.

Below are photos of the 3 titles that we have.

Rice Food 米食乐 / 米食樂

Where to buy Rice Food 米食乐 / 米食樂

  • Simplified Chinese / ISBN 9787513335577
  • Traditional Chinese / ISBN 9789861898865

Audio narration

Mom's Soup 妈妈的一碗汤 / 媽媽的一碗湯

Where to buy Mom’s Soup 妈妈的一碗汤 / 媽媽的一碗湯

Audio narration

Tea 茶 郝广才 Chinese book about tea

Where to buy Tea

  • Simplified Chinese / ISBN 9787513335607
  • Traditional Chinese / ISBN 9789861898780

Audio narration

  • Mandarin: Ximalaya (This is not the greatest narration, so please let me know if you find a better one!)

Picture books about food published in both Chinese and English

Originally written in English, these great food books have been translated into Chinese. Since some parents prefer to buy the English version to supplement the Chinese, I made this a separate category here.

The Carrot Seed 胡萝卜种子 Chinese picture book about food for kids - Luka Reading Companion

The Carrot Seed 胡萝卜种子 / 胡蘿蔔種子

Published in 1945, this classic story teaches about faith and patience. A little boy is told that the seed he planted will not grow. However, he persists, and after pulling weeds, watering, a lot of waiting, his efforts are rewarded with a large carrot. With simple colors, illustrations, and a few lines of text per page, this book is great for toddlers and preschoolers.

The Carrot Seed 胡萝卜种子 Chinese picture book about food for kids

Where to buy

Audio narration

Related: “Grace Said” Focus, Patience, Persistence Chinese Picture Books

Grace Lin Books About Food

Grace Lin The Ugly Vegetables in Chinese and English
The Ugly Vegetables / 难看的蔬菜

We are big fans of Chinese-American author Grace Lin! These books have simple story lines and are best suited for the toddler, preschool, or kindergarten age.

Ugly Vegetables 难看的蔬菜 explores a child’s internalized disappointment with her mother’s vegetable garden as she desires flowers like her neighbors. Later, she appreciates the delicious food grown from her own yard.

Where to buy

Audio narration

On the other hand, Our Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and Poems 我们的食物, is a collaborative non-fiction book with science writer Ranida T. McKneally. In the book, children with diverse appearances discussed ask questions about the science behind 5 food groups and what a healthy meal might look like. Interestingly, the information is presented as Haiku poems.

Where to buy

Gail gibbons children's picture books about food (corn, pumpkins, ice cream, vegetables)

Gail Gibbons books about food

Originally published in English, Gail gibbons has written and illustrated >100 informative non-fiction picture books. My kids have enjoyed the these food books (Pumpkin 南瓜, Corn 玉米, The Vegetables We Eat 蔬菜, Ice Cream 冰淇淋) more than the others.

Each book begins with a background about where the food comes from and the different varieties. Brief summaries of cultural relevance is also included. Please note that these books are a bit more dry and factually written compared to the story-based books listed here.

Gail Gibbons picture books about food in Chinese
From top to bottom: Pumpkin 南瓜, Corn 玉米, The Vegetables We Eat 蔬菜, Ice Cream 冰淇淋

Where to buy

Families who read traditional Chinese might enjoy the similar Discovering Food series by Liping Wu at China Sprout.

English picture books about food

The following books about food are available in English. To my knowledge, they have not been translated to Chinese. If you have seen them in other languages, kindly leave a note in the comments so we can explore the translation options!

Have you read these English or Chinese picture books about food?

If you end up reading this book, let me know what you think in the comments below!

We’d love to hear about your learning experience and if you agree or disagree with our review! What other books do you recommend?

On Instagram and Facebook, tag a photo @chalkacademy and @chalkacademybooks and use the hashtag #ChalkAcademy so our family can check it out!

Happy reading, friends!

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