We read a ton of picture books at our house. Between weekly library trips, my book-buying obsession, and a grandma who recently retired as an elementary school teacher, our house is overflowing with books. Some books have more enduring popularity with the reader (me) and the audience (three kids under 8). These four long-time favorites have prompted more than one snack break because of the delicious descriptions and vivid illustrations of tasty food:
Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola has been responsible for more than one pancake breakfast (and dinner) at our house in the years since we first discovered it. The wordless book is all about a little woman determined to make pancakes for breakfast. There are enough comical details in the illustrations to stretch the story out if you’re reading to a story teller, but it’s not an overly long book. Strega Nona is the most popular food-themed book from Tomie dePaola, but I’m a sucker for pancakes myself.
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri makes me want a shredded chicken taco sprinkled with hot sauce from my favorite taco stand this very minute. (It is 7:00 in the morning and I am currently 2300 miles away, but what do facts have to do with something like a craving for tacos? Nothing.) Dragons love tacos but they do NOT like hot sauce. When a dragon accidentally eats some spicy salsa at a taco party, chaos ensues.
Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig reminds me of a scenario that might play out at our house, what with the combination of a grumpy little boy and a goofy father. I laughed as much as the kids did about a boy whose day is just not going well until, “Pete’s Father can’t help notice how miserable his son is. He thinks it might cheer Pete up to be made into a pizza.”
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russel Hoban and Lillian Hoban. Somehow I missed this classic series until this year; I’ve loved discovering it along with the children. Sometimes reading it inspires us to make homemade bread with jam. Other times, we try to recreate one of the meals in the book: spaghetti and meatballs, poached eggs on toast, breaded cutlets with string beans, or Albert’s fabulous lunch.