30 Children’s Books Featuring POC Characters that You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

As a former elementary educator, children’s books hold a very special place in my heart (publishing my own might be at the top of my bucket list). There’s just something so artful about the cadence of simple rhymes and playfulness of brightly colored illustrations…and gee do I love a good read-aloud.

During the years that I spent teaching nutrition at an elementary school in southeast Seattle I had a pretty static list of food-focused children’s books provided to me by the (equally static) USDA-mandated curriculum. Every day, I’d read about little Jane or John’s adventure with food to my classroom of captive Kinders, First, and Second graders. While the exposure to food-focused stories was a big win for team nutrition there was one glaring issue…the majority of the characters in the stories were white children…the majority of the students in my classrooms were not (might I also add that the parental figures of these stories were all heterosexual and partnered, but I digress).

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

The campaign to raise awareness of the homogeneous narrative in kidlit began on Twitter on April 14th, 2014 and has since gained significant traction. From my experience sorting through stacks of books I knew that food-related children’s books existed; they weren’t unicorns! In fact, since food is such a strong and accessible entry point to many racial and ethnic identities there is actually a rich selection of POC food books for young people.

Lucky for me, the agency I worked for at the time recognized the need to make our curriculum more accessible and culturally competent, leading to my development of the Healthy Readers, Global Eaters curriculum, which focused on meeting Common Core Literacy Standards while experiencing nutrition through a culturally diverse lens. By far my favorite part of developing this 12-week curriculum was the hours I spent pouring through the book stacks at my public library (Thanks, SPL!) finding gems like the books listed below.

With the  summer winding down and the back to school frenzy ramping up consider searching for these books at your local library or asking your child’s teacher to integrate them into their curriculum. The list below features my favorite stories, sorted by reading level.

Click on the book cover for more information on our top 30!

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are all books that I’ve read aloud to my students numerous times, so they have the little people’s thumbs up! Let us know what food-focused kidlit you love!

Seattleite Bonus:

If you’re looking to purchase these books, consider stopping by one of these locally-owned small business bookshops before rushing over to Amazon.com. #ShopLocal!

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