Best Cookbooks for Kids
A TCCL Librarian Recommends Books to Share With Your Chefs in Training
Start with the basics
Let’s get cooking! Cooking with your children has multiple benefits – not only are they getting great hands-on science and math experience, it’s also a great opportunity for you to connect on a personal level. While you sift and measure, chop and stir, you can be asking your child about what’s going on with them, their friends, school projects and more.
I’d like to share some of my favorite cookbooks – available at the library, of course! – to use with your kids as you take on the great adventure of cooking.
Let’s start with the basics and “How To Read a Recipe“ by Anitra Budd. This is the perfect place to start for an absolute beginner cook, whether adult or child. This book informs the reader how to read a recipe, what the abbreviations mean, how to measure, what the recipe title means, important basics like clean hands, tools, and following the directions in order. This is a helpful book for all ages.
Get Minecraft-y with your cookery
Does your child love Minecraft? They probably know all about food and potions and buffs in-game, while you are more likely concerned with food IRL (in real life).
Let me tell you about “The Minecrafter’s Cookbook” by Tara Theoharis. This book makes a perfect bridge between the two and includes more than 40 recipes based on items in the game. Some of the recipe names sound really tasty and some sound really gross, but the recipes themselves are yummy. Here are some examples: Gold Block Sandwiches (grilled cheese sandwiches) and Slime Blocks (gelatin blocks).
“The Minecrafter’s Cookbook” offers a nice selection of snacks, main dishes, desserts and drinks. While it doesn’t go into any actual cooking training, it does emphasize that cooking is part science and encourages experiments in ingredient swapping.
The layout of the recipe tells the cook at a glance what tools and ingredients you will need to make it. It provides a nice photo of the end result and gives a cooking tip or a gaming tip, sometimes both! This is a fun book for helping adults understand some of the nuances of a game their child loves as well as providing a fun theme for a party or family game night, where everyone can pitch in to make some of these recipes.
Recipes in this book are straightforward, so most beginner cooks can follow. It also includes a few recipes that present a little more of a cooking challenge and require adult supervision. I highly recommend this fun cookbook for families and gamers.
Recipes kids should know
What’s for supper?
Sometimes this question strikes dread in me, even as an experienced home cook. Often, in those situations, I stand in front of the refrigerator with the doors open just thinking, looking for inspiration. What can I make with x, y, or z?
Having several recipes in the back of my mind helps with this task immensely. This book, “20 Recipes Kids Should Know” by sisters Esme and Calista Washburn (who, by the way, are 12 and 17 years old, respectively) gives kids (and other beginner cooks) some recipes to have ready in just such a cooking emergency.
“20 Recipes Kids Should Know” offers basic instruction in cooking terms and techniques, offers some safety tips, and lists things to do before you begin cooking, like putting your hair up, rolling up your sleeves and reading the recipe. It offers cooking inspiration in the following categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Appetizers, Sides, Desserts, and More. Some that sound particularly tasty (and easy) include Crispy Roasted Vegetables, Crispiest Breaded Chicken, and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The authors offer substitutions on a number of recipes. They also are not afraid to take on what many would think too difficult for a kid’s cookbook: making your own pasta and bread. They break it down step by step and include photos of each step to assist in visualizing their instructions.
While this is categorized as a kid’s book (technically, Juvenile Nonfiction), it has recipes for every age and skill level. I highly recommend.
Don’t forget: sandwiches!
“Everything tastes better squished between two pieces of bread“ is often heard at my house, as is “Sandwiches always taste better when someone else makes them!”
“Sandwiches!” by Alison Deering offers more than 50 recipes at five different skill levels and hundreds of tips for making your perfect sandwich. It also has several “We Dare You” pages filled with ideas to take your sandwich to the next level, like cheese puffs or sliced pickles on a peanut butter sandwich. While those combinations don’t appeal to me, some adventurous gastronomes might enjoy the challenge.
“Sandwiches!” walks the reader through recipes that only need 1) a plate and a knife, 2) recipes that need a toaster and a microwave, 3) an oven/broiler, 4) a stove, skillet, or panini press, and 5) the top of the sandwich-making food chain: the Big Time, which includes extra cooking, recipes and prep work.
The recipes range from a simple PB&J to the Vietnamese favorite Banh Mi and almost every other sandwich you can conceive. It includes recipes for sweet and savory sandwiches, offers creamy and crunchy textures for variety, and cold and hot sandwich options.
If you like sandwiches, this is a must-read homage to the humble and not-so-humble sandwich. Highly recommended.