So, I was organizing my kitchen cupboard to make room for the three new Jamie Oliver books I received for Christmas (and boy, does he have a lot of cookbooks), when I came across this delightful book by Liz Franklin called Cooking Italian with Kids.
While it’s a little old for my children, it got me wondering if there was a way to combine favorite children’s literature books with some great cooking experiences in the kitchen. Combining books with food is always fun. Getting to make the food is even more fun (Though it can get messy. Our apologies in advance!).
Some of the books have some very obvious food elements that you can do as a snack to go along with the book. You can either read the story first, point out the foods that are mentioned, then make the snack or make the snack as an introductory activity, then eat it as you read the book. So taking a look around Google, I came up with some great ways to combine children’s literature with some cooking ideas:
1. Chocolate Chip cookies with If You Give A Mouse A Cookie: this is a great series of books with a progressive story line which circles back to the beginning by the end of thestory. Kids love the silly things that the animals do and the illustrations are very nicely done. There are a few books in the series that involve food but chocolate chip cookies are lots of fun for kids to make and taste great.
2. Pancakes with Curious George Makes Pancakes: While Curious George oftentimes elicit expressions of disbelief (and why exactly does the Man with the Yellow Hat keeping leaving that monkey by himself?), children love how Georgegets to do all the things that they don’t get to do but wish they could. In this case, they can make pancakes. The nice thing is that they are not difficult to make. If you want to be even more experimental, try sticking bamboo skewers or popsicle sticks in them as they are cooking to make pancakes on a stick.
3. Strawberry Shortcake with Cook-A-Doodle-Do: a favorite dessert of mine (being a good Nova Scotian boy!), this is a fun story to read. Rooster—rebuffed by Dog, Cat, and Goose just like his Granny was—finds companionship in the kitchen with Turtle, Iguana, and Potbellied Pig. As Turtle reads the recipe aloud, Iguana continuously confuses the instructions to great comedic effect. Scattered through the story are sidebars with cooking tips that offer information on the ingredients, measurements, and techniques mentioned in the text.
4. Blueberry Muffins with Blueberries for Sal: This classic story by Robert McCloskey,has a little girl and her mother setting off in search of blueberries for the winter at the same time as a mother bear and her cub. A quiet comedy of errors ensues when the young ones wander off and absentmindedly trail the wrong mothers.
5. Soup with Stone Soup: Two hungry travelers, denied food by the inhabitants of a mountain village, publicly declare that they can make soup from a stone. Only they need a carrot… and a potato… and a few more ingredients to make it taste really good. Everyone in the town contributes something, pronounces the soup delicious and learns the magic behind it: sharing. Their are several versions of the story but the version retold by Heather Forest includes a recipe for Stone Soup though any simple recipe for soup would work.
6. Popcorn with The Popcorn Book: This is a nice “night lunch” book. Make some popcorn and eat it while reading this fun book by Tomie De Paola just before bedtime.
Some other books you can use include:
- In the Night Kitchen
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
- Bread and Jam for Francis
- The Pie and the Patty Pan by Beatrix Potter
- Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
- The Little House Series
- Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke
- Pineapple Poet and the Curse of the Smoothie Man
- Green Eggs and Ham
- The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog
- My Mom Loves Me More than Sushi
Happy Cooking and Reading!
Do you have any favorite books that could be used as a cooking experience with children? Let us know in the comments!
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