'Tis the Season for Family, Food, and Gatherings with Maya from MaiStoryBook
One of my favorite ways to express love is through food. Sharing a meal with family and friends is an intimate experience, and cooking together or cooking for others is an act of closeness and togetherness.
As the season of giving thanks and winter holidays approaches, we set the intention to spend more time with loved ones~ planning reunions, trips home, or welcoming others into our own spaces. We celebrate and connect through gatherings, shared meals, conversation, play, and quiet moments spent together.
To celebrate this special time of year, I've curated a bookish collection featuring 25+ of mai favorite diverse *Food, Family, and Gatherings* read alouds. Included are some of my favorite bookish crafts inspired by these books, and interactive read aloud videos featuring these foodie-family reads!
Check it out below:
The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, Illustrated by Lorian Tu This delightfully delicious twist on "The Wheels on the Bus" features an Asian family gathering around the table, scooping from the rice pot, slurping noodles, squishing tofu, and tapping chopsticks. Sing along with the family as they share laughter, food, and love.
May Your Life be Deliciosa by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Loris Lora
Every year on Christmas Eve, Rosie and her familia gather together in Abuela’s kitchen to make tamales and tell stories. In her kitchen, Angela shares not only how to make delicious tamales, but through her storytelling, shares how to make a delicious *life* full of love, laughter, family, and *lots of spice.* This *delicious* narrative is inspired by the author’s own family, tamale-making holiday tradition, and is interwoven with English and Spanish words, creating a flowing blend of languages. A must-read around the holidays, and any day of the year to remind us of the importance and value of storytelling and community.
Watercress by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Jason Chin
A young Chinese girl's parents stop on the side of the road to collect watercress growing in a ditch on the side of the road. The whole family wades into the mud and mulch to collect as much of the wild watercress as possible. The young girl, embarrassed, wonders why her family can't just get food from the groceries like other families. But when her mother shares a story about her family in China, the girl finds a new appreciation for their foraged food. A beautiful story of second generation immigrants learning about and connecting with their heritage and culture.
Arab Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook by Karim Alrawi, Illustrated by Nahid Kazemi
This collection of stories ties together enchanting Arab folk tales and kid-friendly recipes. Each tale incorporates food, and ends with a traditional recipe. Prepare to embark on a culinary, storybook adventure!
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, Illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
As a Vietnamese American, I love the Vietnamese representation in this one! Also, roast duck is one of mai favorite meals! Tuyet is excited for Thanksgiving break and the upcoming holiday. However, when she realizes her family is having a duck instead of turkey for Thanksgiving, she is worried about what her teacher and classmates will think. When Tuyet returns to school on Monday, she learns that all of her classmates had a wide variety of foods they ate for Thanksgiving (not just turkey), but one thing they all had in common: sharing the special day with family!
Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham, Illustrated by Charles G. Esperanza
At Granny's, Sunday means a big family gathering over a lovingly prepared meal. This year, her grandson is finally old enough to help cook the dishes. Together, they grate cheese, clean greens, and prime the meat. However, just when they are finished, the grandson makes a special contribution of his own - adding to the love and laughter of the day.
The Whole World Inside Nan's Soup by Hunter Liguore, Illustrated by Vikki Zhang
Nanni’s pot is bubbling with the most delicious smell! When her little one asks what’s inside the pot, Nanni lifts the lid to reveal the ingredients, and share the whole community of people and elements that came together to create this special meal. A gorgeous rumination on the meaning of farm to table, with detailed illustrations brimming with whimsy, this luscious story celebrates our interconnectedness~ and revels in how a community and world can come together to create an unforgettable meal.
A Song of Frutas by Margarita Engle, Illustrated by Sara Palacios
In this lively, musical Cuban read, a young girl visits her grandfather, who is a pregonera: a signing street vendor, and helps him sell his fruits. When it is time to leave, the young girl wishes for *open borders* so she may visit her abuelo more often. To stay connected, she writes songs, poems, and verses to Abuelo, imagining them soaring on the wings of birds to get to him across the ocean. Vibrant illustrations burst with the liveliness of the community, and the rich colors bring the music of the streets to life in this rhythmic read! English and Spanish are woven together throughout the narrative creating a fluid, mixed language read aloud.
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
This is a story of resourcefulness and care: a lively crew of neighbors fill a joyfully chaotic kitchen to prepare a meal for their community, each member scrounging up what they can find to contribute to the dish- ripe tomatoes from the community garden, leftover carrots and half a celery from the communal fridge, apples with the bruised parts cut off, and day-old loaves from the bakery. Everyone *peels, splashes, tosses, trims* until it’s *Dinnertime* and the neighbors and community members fill the tables for a warm meal. Inspired by the author’s own experiences volunteering at a weekly community kitchen, this story is a celebration of *full bellies* and of the community that forms when you look out for one another.
The Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de La Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Welcome to the hustling, bustling life of the city. CJ and his grandma have just finished church, and are on their way to the bus stop for their weekly routine. As rain begins to patter down, speckling CJ’s shirt with miniature dew drops, CJ grumpily inquires about their lack of a car, as well as about the sodden nature of the rainy day. As his glum line of questioning continues, each inquiry is met by an encouraging and revealing answer from his grandma. As their final destination is revealed at the end of the story, readers are shown the kindness and value of helping others who have even less than you do. Furthermore, the beautifully illustrated urban setting, along with the broad cast of characters, truly reveals the beauty and diversity of life.
Mi Casa is My Home by Lauren Sala, Illustrated by Zara Gonzalez Hoang
*Bienvenidos* to Lucía’s home, where she lives with her big, beautiful, and loud family! Join Lucía as she takes you on a tour through the different rooms in her casa, sharing special moments she has with her family members in each space~ from the kitchen where she watches her Mamá work magic, to the patio where she and her cousins present fanciful magic shows. Spanish is woven throughout the text, creating a bilingual narrative of *Spanglish* and a story that highlights the love and joy of a large, intergenerational Latinx family.
When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, Illustrated by Aaron Asis
I'm also half Filipina, and love the beautiful imagery and Filipino cultural references speckled throughout this beautiful narrative. A young Filipina girl uses her senses to describe the joy and love that is summer. Summer is when her *Lola* comes~ her grandmother from the Philippines. And when Lola visits, the house explodes with irresistible aromas of cassava cake and kalamansi pie, of warm banana leaves and grilled stuffed milkfish. And when the chill of fall brings Lola’s summer visits to an end, Lola knows just what to do to *preserve* their special summer for just a bit longer. This book has my senses tingling and my taste-buds watering.
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Anna Ramirez Gonzalez
Kamala and Maya have a *Big Idea!* Their apartment courtyard is an empty lot~ and they can just imagine how grand it would be to have a playground there for the whole apartment community to enjoy! However, when the landlord is reluctant to pitch in and help, Kamala and Maya take matters into their own hands and rally the other apartment children to help them make their *big idea* come true. true. Based on a true story from Vice President Kamala Harris and her sister Maya’s own childhood, this inspirational read shows the power of resilience, imagination, determination, and community organization to facilitate change and make a difference.
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
A Chinese-American girl wishes her garden was full of flowers like her neighbors' gardens. Instead, her family garden is full of bumpy, ugly vegetables. However, her mama tells her that their vegetables are better than flowers, and come harvest season, the vegetables from the garden are used to make the most aromatic soup. Everyone in the neighborhood comes together, sharing their flowers and sharing the *ugly vegetable soup.* A beautiful story of community and recognizing the beauty and purpose of everything.
Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore, Illustrated by Xindi Yan
Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh (grandpa) is coming to visit from China for the first time! However, instead of a warm and jolly grandpa, Yeh-Yeh turns out to be quite a grumpy frowner, and the language barrier between the two seems insurmountable. But Daisy is determined to find a way to make Yeh-Yeh smile, and through cooking together, the two of them are able to connect with a shared experience. In Grandpa Grumps, Author Katrina Moore creates an endearing story that offers another way to cross a seemingly wide language and generation gap, through a way of communicating not through words, but rather through cooking and eating together.
Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora
Omu is stirring up a big pot of delicious, fragrant stew for dinner. Meanwhile, the delectable scent of the stew wafts through the door and out the windows, enticing passersby to knock on Omu’s door. Omu, a kind and generous grandma, of course offers a bowl of stew to the friendly visitors~ until there is no stew left for herself! But then comes a knock at her door... who could it be? Omu models giving from the heart, with no strings attached, and the friends she feeds are an example of the joys thankfulness and gratitude bring to others and yourself.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frane Lessac
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. This book takes you through the 4 different seasons and how the Cherokee nation gives thanks for the bounty the earth provides.
Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz, Illustrated by Parwinder Singh
Every Friday after Jummah prayer at the masjid, Musa's family has a special Jummah treat. They each get tot take turns picking out what the treat will be. When it's finally Musa's turn to pick, he picks his favorite- halal hot dogs! However, getting these halal hot dogs proves to be more difficult than they thought. Will he ever get his favorite tasty treat? Animated illustrations bring this story to life!
Chaiwala by Priti Birla Maheshwari, Illustrated by Ashley Barron
This is best read with a warm mug of chai! When their train makes a 10-minute stop at the station in Jaipur, a young girl and her mother hurry to get in line for a cup of chai. While they girl wait for their mug of milky spiced tea, readers are immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Chaiwala’s cart.
Jazz for Lunch by Jarrett Dapier, Illustrated by Eugenia Mello
This is a celebration of food, music, family, and community! Auntie Nina and her nephew are cooking up a bounty of food and symphony of song and sound! Soon, the delectable aromas and irresistible tunes have the whole neighborhood bustling on over to join in.
A Feast for Joseph by Terry Farish & OD Bonny, Illustrated by Ken Daley
When Joseph and Mama lived in a refugee camp in East Africa, everyone cooked and ate together. He misses sharing meals with lots of people; it’s much too quiet and lonely in his new home. So Joseph decides to invite his family and friends to come for dinner. However, everyone says they are too busy... Will Joseph get the big community meal he longs for?
Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O'Neill, Illustrated by Brizida Magro
Molly and her mom don't always have enough food, so one Saturday they visit their local food pantry. Molly is happy to get the food, but at the food pantry, she sees her classmate Caitlin who looks embarrassed to be there. Can Molly help Caitlin realize that everyone needs help sometimes?
Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, Illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz
Do you love eating instant ramen? This biography book shares the story of Momofuku Ano, the inventor of Instant Ramen. He was actually inspired by seeing the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. He wanted to find a way to make ramen more quick and convenient, so more people could get more food more quickly.
Hot Pot Night by Vincent Chen
Have you tried hot pot before? If you are looking for a tasty and fun communal meal, this book includes a family hot pot recipe in the back! A Taiwanese American child brings his diverse neighbors together to make a tasty communal meal. Together, they cook up a delicious family meal of hot pot that celebrates community, cooperation, and culture!
The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Follow along in this lyrical read as the farm maiden and all the farm animals work together to make the rice pudding that they serve at the fiesta. Spanish words are woven into the text, cleverly replacing the English text as the story goes on. Plus, this book includes a recipe for arroz con leche in the back!
The Dinner that Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu, Illustrated by Kenard Pak
A Chinese fairytale, Tuan was a lonely, hardworking man looking for a wife, but even the matchmaker couldn't help him. However, one night, Tuan's luck changed and a spirit creates a *Dinner that Cooks Itself* ~ a special meal that will help him find love.
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
Cora loves being in the kitchen, but her mama always gives her the easy jobs when cooking. However, one day, Cora finally gets the chance to be her mama's assistant chef, and gets to do the grown-up jobs like shredding the chicken and soaking the noodles. What will her family think of her cooking? This book shares a beautiful story of mother and daughter connection, and Filipino culture.
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Amy loves to make bao with her family. But, her bao keep coming out wrong! They are either too lumpy, too small, or too big. Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?
Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
There are two layers of text in this rich and powerful verse. A simpler text for littles guides readers through a delightful Fry Bread making process, while an extensive guide at the back of the book gives detailed information and insight into the Native American experience paired with each of the storybook changes.
I love extending the bookish fun beyond the book! Check out these crafts inspired by several of the books in this featured collection. Share your big ideas for community change with Kamala and Maya, give thanks with the Cherokee community, share a message of thanks with Omu, and celebrate a special family food inspired by Fry Bread.
Read aloud the story, Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, and then encourage students to write their own letter's sharing their own *Big Ideas* that will help create change in their community. Click here for Craft Template
Read aloud the story, We Are Grateful, and then encourage students to create a 3D tree labeled in Cherokee with the names of the seasons, and then write what they are thankful for for each season on the leaves. Click here for Craft Template
Kick off this Thanksgiving season with a mix of story time and crafting by creating this *Pot of Gratitude* craftivity inspired by the book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. This craft will have littles talking and thinking about the power of giving, the love found within community, and the joy of sharing words of gratitude with loved ones.
Read aloud the story, Fry Bread, and then encourage students to write about, describe, and share their own favorite family foods. This activity booklet encourages students to use descriptive writing and details to share about a food special to their own family/culture.
Interactive Read Aloud Videos
Read along with MaiStoryBook YouTube for interactive, shared-reading read aloud adventures where I ask questions throughout the story, point out main themes and ideas, and introduce vocabulary to keep little learners engaged and participating throughout the story. I’ve curated a collection of *Family, Food, and Gathering* Interactive Read aloud videos for you to read along and learn with me this month.
I hope you found some reading recommendations to add to your own shelves and share with your littles this giving season. Please comment below and share any other *Family, Food, and Gathering* titles to add to this themed collection.
*~Also, I’d love to see and hear about your own reading adventures you are having with your little learners, so please share your story times below in the comments –Tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary or FaceBook , find me on TikTok, or contact me via email . I’d love to hear from you!~*