Books to Encourage Pretend Play: Restaurant

Here are our favorite restaurant-themed picture books. These books are great for encouraging kids to engage in complex pretend play.

Pizza at Sally’s by Monica Wellington. Sally the pizza maker obtains ingredients, makes pizza, and serves pizza her customers. While this story is pretty straightforward, my kids enjoy it and it is great for encouraging kids to pretend to open a pizzeria. See also Mr. Cookie Baker by Monica Wellington.  Ages 2+

The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day by Loreen Leedy. A story about The Edible Pyramid restaurant — a restaurant that serves up food from each slice of the food pyramid. While the USDA has replaced the food pyramid with my plate, this book is still a valuable one for teaching kids to eat a variety of foods. This also happens to be one of my kids’ favorite books. They enjoy coming up with meals that include foods from each food group. Ages 4+

Big Jimmy’s Kum Kau Chinese Take Out by Ted Lewin. Describes a day at a Chinese restaurant from the perspective of a restaurant owner’s son. Lewin’s detailed illustrations make the Chinese restaurant kitchen come to life. Ages 4+


Working at a Restaurant by Katie Marsico. A non-fiction book about restaurants that teaches kids nitty gritty terminology such as “host” and “bussers.” This is not a book that my kids ask to read repeatedly, but one reading could introduce kids to some useful vocabulary to incorporate into their pretend play. Ages 5+

Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch. A true story of a girl Hiromi whose family recently immigrated from Japan to New York City. Hiromi’s father bucks tradition and teaches Hiromi to be one of the first female sushi chefs in New York. Ages 6+

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9 Responses to Books to Encourage Pretend Play: Restaurant

  1. Emily says:

    Thanks so much for posting this list! I was looking everywhere for books about restaurants that were “kid-appropriate,” and this is the only one I could find. You’re a lifesaver :)

  2. What a great website! I’m a speech language pathologist and always looking for good books to incorporate into my sessions. I’ll certainly refer parents to your page. If you ever want to share a guest post on my website, please let me know.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, Kimberly! My youngest son was not saying any words at 18 months and benefited from speech therapy. His developmental delays inspired me to read about speech development and come up with booklists for kids at specific stages of language development. See the Babies and Toddlers page for these booklists: Thanks for the invitation to write a guest post. I plan to spend more time reviewing and writing about children’s books in the fall and may take you up on the invitation then! -Amy

  3. As a Reading Specialist & Mommy, I LOVE your blog! :) I would LOVE to have you join our Saturday Show & Tell at Cheerios and Lattes. My readers would love your book suggestions! :)
    Have a great weekend!

  4. What a great blog, I’ll definitely be coming back. I love that I can click on books by age.

  5. I’m so glad I came across your blog! I have a two year old, and although I teach high school English, I’m at a loss for what good books to read for her. After reading a few of your posts I went to the library and was able to quickly distinguish between the good and the bad. Thanks for your posts!

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