Page to Plate: Book-Inspired Eats for Read Across America Day

Celebrate Read Across America Day with these recipes inspired by children's books

By Macaroni KID February 23, 2024

Celebrate Read Across America Day with a culinary twist that takes you and your young readers on a delicious journey through the pages of some beloved and award-winning children's books. 

This special day is not just about encouraging children to read, but also about exploring stories that reflect a diverse array of experiences, cultures, and imaginations. 

From magical chocolate factories to the simple joy of homemade fry bread, these recipes inspired by popular children's books offer a unique way to connect with stories and characters. Dive into each book's world, then bring its essence to life in your kitchen with these engaging and flavorful recipe ideas!

1. Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

In this classic tale of adventure and imagination, young Max, dressed in his wolf costume, creates mischief at home and is sent to bed without supper. In his room, a mysterious wild forest and sea grow out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land of the Wild Things. He becomes their king, but soon longs for home, where he finds his supper waiting for him.

Recipe Idea: Create vibrant smoothies using a mix of wild berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) to celebrate the wildness of the characters in the book.

Photos by:  Hena Baloo | Canva;  Joshua Resnick | Canva;  Gina Ardhya's Images | Canva

2. Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story 
by Kevin Noble Maillard

This modern picture book explores the tradition, history, and significance of fry bread within Native American culture. Through vibrant illustrations and lyrical prose, the award-winning story connects generations and honors heritage.

Recipe Idea: Make fry bread, a traditional Native American food, to accompany the reading of this book. Serve with honey, jam, or as a savory treat with beans and cheese. You can find the recipe for fry bread in the book!

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle

We had to include this one! This beloved picture book tells the story of a caterpillar's transformation into a beautiful butterfly. Starting from a tiny egg, the very hungry caterpillar eats his way through an array of foods, growing larger and experiencing changes, until he finally emerges as a stunning butterfly.

Recipe Idea: Use different fruits to mimic the caterpillar and the food the caterpillar eats through, arranged on skewers. For example, use green grapes for the body, a strawberry for the head, and thin slices of kiwi or apple for the leaves it munches on. 

Check out these adorable — and healthy — fruit plates inspired by the Very Hungry Caterpillar:

@macaronikidnational Celebrating #readacrossamerica with recipes inspired by childrens' books. 📚 Check out for more ideas! #childrensbook #kidsoftiktok #books #fruit #foodie #macaroniKID #familyfun #easyrecipe #momlife #snackideas #foodidea #fyp #kidsplay #fruitplatter #fruits #sensory #kidsplay #fun ♬ Exciting, exciting, cute songs(1283711) - Korepoi

4. Last Stop on Market Street 
by Matt de la Peña

CJ and his grandmother take a bus ride across town, where CJ is introduced to the beauty and diversity of the world around him. Through his grandmother's wisdom, CJ learns about gratitude, kindness, and finding beauty in everyday life, culminating in a visit to a soup kitchen where they help serve meals.

Recipe Idea: Inspired by the soup kitchen visit in the book, make a hearty vegetable soup. It's a great way to discuss themes of community and giving.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket, a poor boy, wins a golden ticket to tour the mysterious and magical chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka. Along with four other children, Charlie embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that teaches him valuable lessons about greed, humility, and the true value of kindness.

Recipe Idea: Pay homage to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, set up mini chocolate fountains and offer a variety of fruits and marshmallows for dipping.

Photos by:   Hoptocopter | Canva;  Nina Firsova | Canva;  fotosr | Canva

6. The Name Jar 
by Yangsook Choi

Unhei has just moved from Korea to the United States and is anxious that her new classmates won't be able to pronounce her name. As she contemplates choosing a new name, Unhei learns about the importance of her own name and culture, and the value of being true to oneself, with the help of her classmates.

Recipe idea: Celebrate the book's themes of identity and cultural diversity by preparing Korean kimbap, a type of seaweed rice roll that can be filled with vegetables, egg, or cooked meat.

7. Tar Beach 
by Faith Ringgold

Set on a hot summer night in Harlem, Cassie Louise Lightfoot dreams she can fly above her rooftop, looking down on the beautiful sights of her neighborhood. This story combines fantasy and historical elements, exploring themes of freedom, equality, and the power of dreams.

Recipe Idea: Since the book features a magical, dream-like picnic on a rooftop, you can make a variety of sandwiches to pack in a picnic basket and enjoy outdoors or indoors on a blanket.