This is an annotated bibliography of some great cookbooks for kids. There are books that are either geared toward kids or for parents who are cooking with kids. All have good photos and illustrations to help kids get the idea clearly. Some are for older kids (teens) and are clearly marked. In any case, these are kids’ cookbooks; that is, books that belong to the kids and on which they can slop to their heart’s desire.
None of them are terribly expensive. Every year there is a huge crop of new cookbooks for kids. Many are no better than the tried and true books that kids loved 5-10 years ago. Luckily, our online book sources as well as used book stores in most towns have some of the better older ones available, and some for pennies plus shipping from the online sources. That’s why we dared to recommend them. They’re still out there. The newest books are always the most expensive. In the end, it’s about getting the best books, not the newest, right?
Some cookbooks have great ideas but execute them with crappy foods. Watch out for those. They are all over the bookstores, but they can easily get kids started down the wrong path of using lots of prepared foods full of chemical compounds that you don’t want to eat. If your child gets one, you can substitute healthier foods. When you bump into products like Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, just say “We don’t use food-like products in this house. We only use real food. Cheddar cheese will be just fine.” Caveat emptor.
Great Cookbooks for Kids
Best of Family Fun Cooking and Parties. NY: Disney Enterprises, Inc. c 2003. ISBN: 0-7868-5901-6.
“600 Creative Recipes and Party Plans for You and Your Kids,” from the publishers of Family Fun Magazine. More than any book, my daughter learned to cook from this book and returns to cook recipes from it OFTEN in her teens. She found so many recipes in it that are inviting, well explained, well illustrated, delicious, and easy to cook! Great photos and cute ideas to stimulate imaginations. It has recipes for both sweet and protein-rich, healthy recipes. A whole section on parties has tons of creative party ideas. Yes, it’s Disney, but one of the better products.
Gillies, Judi, and Jennifer Glossop’ Jumbo Cookbook. Kids Can Press, c 2000. ISBN: 1550746219
This is a true kid’s cookbook that emphasizes healthy, fresh ingredients, and super-simple prep. Grade 3-5-Kids, and adults who cook with them, will enjoy this collection of over 100 recipes. All have simple, step-by-step instructions, call for commonly available ingredients, and range in difficulty from boiled rice to sushi and shepherd’s pie. The author rates the level of skill required for each dish, so budding chefs can build their skills along with their repertoire. Old standards such as meatloaf and tuna-noodle casserole are here, and for more adventurous and ambitious cooks, vegetarian, Middle-Eastern, Japanese, Mexican, and Indian dishes are also included.
Gillies, Judi, and Jennifer Glossop, The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook. (Series:) Jumbo Books, c 2000. ISBN: 1550749773
Ages 8-12. Vegetarian version of the successful Jumbo Cookbook from Kids Can Press in the “Jumbo Books” series. Great lessons in planning a nutritious diet from a vegetarian standpoint. Easy recipes for kids, though the cartoon graphics make it more appealing to the younger kids. Teens might not be able to get past that. Still, the recipes are great and cover all meals. If you have a young budding vegetarian or if your family eats vegetarian, you would enjoy the recipes.
Graimes, Nicola. Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook. DK Children, c 2007.ISBN-10: 0756629160
Bright and colorful cookbook for kids aged 4-8 that encourages kids to consider what they eat and how it affects their bodies. Kids will cook real food that everyone in the family will enjoy. DK makes absolutely beautiful books and this one is no exception.
Carle, Megan & Jill, with Judi Carle, Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat, Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, c2004. 146 pages. ISBN: 1580085849
Geared toward teenagers, it has food photos that look delicious (and are), simple explanations, and easy-to-follow recipes. Many interesting cooking tips and lessons. It’s a more sophisticated, so older kids relate. Challenges kids to make interesting food that they want to eat. Great recipes for steak fajitas, vegetable stir fry with tofu, chicken Caesar salads, chicken picata with rice pilaf, goat cheese and tomato crostini, etc. Good snacks section with healthy but delicious snacks that teens love. The Mom, Judi Carle, has authored over 20 cookbooks. Our book is covered with food stains, which means it gets used!
Gold, Rosanne, Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs, Bloomsbury USA Childrens Books, c 2009, 160 pages. ISBN: 1599904454.
Ages 14 and up; grades 9-12. A renowned chef rolls out a wonderful teen cookbook of healthy foods, emphasizing ingredients and what a difference they make. All meals are covered, with great photos of the stages of preparation, cooking tips and safety information. Finished dishes are appealing to teens (and everyone else). Learning to cook from a book like this will give teens a strong foundation in eating healthy for a lifetime.
D’Amico, Joan and Karen Eich Drummond. The Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids. Jossey-Bass, c1994. ISBN: 047131045X
Ads say ages 10 and up, but we think it’s more like ages 7-12. This intriguing little book is full of information about the science behind cooking: How do sauces thicken? How does bread rise? Why does toast brown? What is baking powder? Seems like this would make for better cooks and better scientists by the time kids get into chemistry and physics classes. Each chapter poses a science experiment and then discusses what happened, followed by specific recipes. Part 2 includes recipes for making your own salad dressings, pasta sauces, cheese, whipped cream, pudding mix, etc. In other words, get rid of the boxes and cans and make it yourself. Great advice for any budding chef.
Dodge, Abigail. Williams Sonoma The Kid’s Cookbook: a great cookbook for kids who love to cook. Oxmoor House, c 2002. ISBN-10: 0737020415
Ages 4-8. 40 easy-to-follow recipes including both sweet and savory dishes for the whole family. Spiral bound so it easily lays flat. Plenty of clear and colorful photographs so kids can easily identify ingredients and visualize the cooking techniques. Kids love this cookbook.
Gerasole, Isabella and Olivia. The Spatulatta Cookbook. NY: Spatulatta, Inc. c 2007. Published by Scholastic. ISBN-13: 978-0-439-02250-7; ISNB-10: 0-439-02250-9
Pitched at kids from about 6-12, which are the prime ages for learning to cook. “Recipes for kids, by kids, from the James Beard award-winning Spatulatta web site.” Very nice book, well layed out with simple and attractive recipes. Includes sections on basic skills, tools, measurement equivalents and vegetarian meals. Lots of pictures of interesting and tasty food to cook. Both savory and sweet recipes like pesto pasta and meat loaf with mashed potatoes are sure to win kids’ hearts.
Cook, Deanna F. FamilyFun Cooking with Kids: 300 Irresistible Recipes the Whole Family Will Love, [Spiral Bound] Disney Editions, ©2006, 224 pages.
Another gem from Deanna Cook, who authored most of these Disney Publications. Once again, she does a great job of delineating what kids can do and what adults should help with as she offers a wide variety of recipes and foods for the whole family. This book includes both meat dishes and vegetarian dishes that are well illustrated and delicious. She includes many of the little presentation tips that appeal to kids, like arranging goods on the plate to resemble animals or objects. High fat ingredients can be reduced to healthier versions. The book is attractive and fun for kids to use. It’s money well spent.