The month of December, when extended families often get together to celebrate their respective religious or cultural traditions, is a great time to also celebrate the multigenerational connections that many children have with their grandparents. The following selection of picture books celebrate the bonds between children and grandparents that are made stronger through cooking and sharing food. Whether it’s identifying which wild vegetables should be harvested and how they should be prepared, waiting for dough to rise, or navigating the multistep process of making tofu from scratch, the deliberate, thoughtful, and often lengthy process of meal preparation leads to deeper communication and understanding between the grandparents and grandchildren in these stories. See also the recent post Around the World With Foodie Picture Books which features several books about children connecting with a grandparent over food. What else is out there that is missing from this list? Please share your favorite books about grandparents and grandchildren enjoying cooking and eating together below.
A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Julie Flett (Crocodile, 2018). First Nations grandchildren in British Columbia’s Nicola Valley learn from their Yayah and other elders about identifying edible plants on an excursion that culminates in a picnic of tea and salmon sandwiches.
Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore and illustrated by Xindi Yan (Little Bee, 2020). Daisy’s visit with her grumpy Yeh-Yeh from China does not feel like it’s going very well until they find a way to communicate through cooking and they enjoy fried rice together.
Granny’s Kitchen by Sade Smith and illustrated by Ken Daley (Feiwel and Friends, 2022). On the Island of Jamaica Shelly-Ann’s Granny not only teaches her to cook delicious Jamaican food like dumplings, saltfish and plantains, but imparts to her the importance of patience, practice and perseverance.
Mariana and Her Familia by Monica Mancillas, illustrated by Erika Meza (Balzer & Bray, 2022). Mariana is nervous about visiting her extended family in Mexico until she shares a book with Abuela and then prepares tortillas and queso with Abuela and her cousins.
My Hands Tell a Story by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Tonya Engel (Reycraft, 2022). Zoe learns how to bake cinnamon bread with her Grandma, and while they knead the dough and wait for it to rise and then bake, her Grandma tells her many stories about her life as a young woman.
Ten Ways To Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak (Kokila, 2020). Lina treks through the snow to visit her Sitti so that they can make some grape leaves and then enjoy the snowy quietness together.
Tofu Takes Time by Helen H. Wu, illustrated by Julie Jarema (Beaming, 2022). Lin and her NaiNai embark on the lengthy process of making tofu from scratch resulting in a delicious meal to share with family.
Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Viking, 2021). Neela and her Amma keep Patti in their thoughts and conversation while they cook and then preserve her favorite tomato sauce to share with her when she visits next year.
Today’s blog post was written by Nomi Hague (she/her), a Youth Services Librarian at the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, Rhode Island. Nomi is a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs & Services Committee and can be reached at email@example.com.