I absolutely love cooking with children. Not only is it a great bonding activity, but it also promotes literacy at the same time. I’m a firm believer in preparing healthy foods with kids, so when I set out to review cookbooks for kids, this remained at the top of my list while critiquing.
Here are my children’s cookbook recommendations. I’ve listed them by age appropriateness. We’ll start with the little ones and work our way up to our growing chefs.
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Cookbooks for Kids
Cookbooks for Toddlers
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Little Helpers Toddler Cookbook by Heather Wish Staller is full of toddler and bigger kid recipes. My older kids even gobbled up the Baked Pancake “Pizza.” They basically cut it in two slices.
The chapters are divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They are plenty of yummy wins. I really like that each recipe includes space to rate the recipe, a spot to record when you made it, what you enjoyed about the experience and any notes about the recipe. Every cookbook should have this!
Cookbooks for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners
Pretend Soup and Salad People were written by Mollie Katzen for the preschool crowd. The recipes appear twice. First they are written for the adult along with suggestions and then there is a simple sequenced pictorial spread for the child. Pretend Soup which has sold over 200,000 copies has the recipes for Green Spaghetti, Carrot Pennies, Blueberry Pancakes and many more.
Salad People is the follow-up book and is a bit more adventurous. Here you will find recipes for Focaccia, Mango-Honey Lassi and Cool Cucumber Soup. I’m so impressed with the quality of recipes and the simplicity of the directions for 3, 4 and 5 year-olds. Katzen also has another book for the 8 and up crowd called Honest Pretzels.
Busy Little Hands: Food Play! : Activities for Preschoolers by Amy Palanjian is filled with photographs walking you through the healthy recipes. And, each recipe comes with a fun name from Hide-O-Seek Smoothies to Cookie Monster Bites.
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Easy and playful is what you’ll find in Look I’m a Cook. Make a salad train or sunset juice. Little ones will be able to do lots of the steps with minimal adult help.
The gorgeous The Forest Feast for Kids by Erin Gleeson is the perfect cookbook for getting children to try healthy foods. All of the vegetarian recipes are colorful and simple. We made grape fizz first. Super easy and festive.
Chapters include snacks, drinks, salads, meals, sweets and parties. How about a grilled cheese party, color party or picnic party? Yes, please!
Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Cookbooks for Early Elementary and Elementary Children
Bake, Make & Learn to Cook by David Atherton is filled with fun and healthy recipes for young cooks from banana bear pancakes to a hummus lion. Recipes are filled with illustrated and numbered prompts making the format easy to follow. Ingredients are even listed with words and pictures.
Kids’ Kitchen by Fiona Bird and Roberta Arenson includes 40 fun and healthy recipe cards. The deck of cards is divided into five color coded sections: Eggs ‘n’ Beans, Fantastic Fruits, Milk ‘n’ Dairy, Spuds ‘n’ Grain and Vital Vegetables. All of the recipes are vegetarian and include meal ideas to go with each recipe. There are also multi-cultural recipes. I’m so impressed with the nutritional education that comes with each recipe. The Breakfast Friends recipe states that, ” it’s loaded with protein and carbohydrates that help to power you up for an energetic day.” Not only will kids learn how to cook nutritional dishes, but they are becoming empowered with healthy eating tips and practices. I also like that the recipes are printed on heavy-duty cards which works well with kids in the kitchen. Children will learn how to make: Apple Volcanoes, Tropical Milkshakes, Mellow Yellow Rice and Picnic Kebabs as well as 37 other dishes.
Lots of yummy recipes from around the world can be found in Feed Our Small World. Travel to Mexico, Belgium, Senegal and more tasting dishes such as Zesty Peanut Soup, Streusel-rific Coffee Cake, and Mousse au Chocolat. Each recipe has a country of origin as well as a fun fact. Did you know that the Irish call American bacon “streaky bacon?” This cookbook can easily get children to try new foods.
Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe and Guidebook for Gluten-Free Kids by The Paleo Parents grabs you with the fun cover! The book is filled with over 100 recipes and easily coded for kids who suffer from a food allergy. How about some Cinnamon Apple Creamed Hot Cereal, Deviled Bacony Eggs or Hissin’ Chicken?
Pie for Breakfast: A Baking Book for Children by Cynthia Cliffcombines a story with lots of recipes as a group of children hold a bake sale for the school library. Recipes include blackberry crumb cake, apple custard muffins, and gluten-free carrot cake.
Twist It Up was written by a student named Jack Witherspoon. Jack suffers from leukemia and has had many hospital stays. While in the hospital, he watched a lot of the Food Network channel. During his recovery, he began to cook and really liked it. He now does fundraisers to help raise funds for the Miller Children’s Hospital through his cooking endeavors. I really like that the recipes are healthy and fun. Children learn how to prepare Norwegian Pancakes, Super Spinach & Cheese Enchiladas and Old-Fashioned Apple Pie. Each recipe has a suggestion for “twisting it up”. Great photographs accompany each recipe. I’d say this book is geared for the 8 and up crowd.
Teach kids the science involved in cooking and baking with America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Cookbook for Young ScientistsAmerica’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists. Older children will love to read the why behind how their dishes work.
So there you have some of the best cookbooks out there. What will you be cooking with the kids?
*This post first appeared 7/30/12 and has since been updated.