Dumplings for Lili by Melissa Iwai, published by Norton Young Readers (2021)

In Dumplings for Lili, Lili goes on an adventure with her dog Kiki in search of ingredients. What starts as an errand to pick up some cabbage leaves to make bao babies with her Nai Nai becomes a journey of grand proportions. Lili and Kiki help facilitate a grand exchange of ingredients between the grandmothers of the building. Children will love reading about Lili and all the dumplings she encounters.

Melissa Iwai has illustrated more than 30 books throughout her career and the illustrations in Dumplings for Lili are one of the best parts of the story. The pictures in this book are full of detail from the swirl of the baos to the spices in Abuela’s pantry. The bright colors highlight the excitement of getting the responsibility to go out on your own as a kid. Dumplings for Lili not only showcases a love of food, but the love that is passed down generations through food. In addition to the story, there is a recipe for Nai Nai’s Baos in the back of the book. Children will be delighted to be able to create part of the story to eat themselves.

Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram, Illustrated by Inés Antuñano, Recipes by Laurel P. Jackson; Published by Barefoot Books (2021)

Dumpling Day by Meera Sriram is an exploration of food and community. The story counts the different types of dumplings that families are preparing to share. Children can learn words for different family members and different food items. Dumplings come from all around the globe! Reading this book, you are sure to find out about a type of dumpling you want to try. Playful drawings highlight the cooking process and of course feature children helping in the kitchen. Food and family help children learn to count as dumplings are added to the list. I love that multigenerational homes are presented  in this book, along with mixed race families. Everyone can connect over a love for food and for each other.

The back of the book features recipes and cooking tips for each of the dumplings. These recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs of each dumpling. This book is both a fun read and a great first cookbook for little kitchen helpers. Go forth and make dumplings and share with those around you.

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