Cooking is an excellent way for children to learn responsibility and valuable skills. Spending time together in the kitchen also creates quality family time and wonderful memories. Although there is a multitude of cookbooks aimed at what to cook for children, there are only a handful of cookbooks where the child is meant to be the main participant. Here are my choices for kid-friendly cookbooks that are well-written, engaging, and teach valuable culinary skills that a child can understand.
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Chef Emeril Lagasse gets kids into the kitchen with recipes such as "Grill-It-Up-a-Notch Ham and Cheese Sandwich", "Baby Bam Burgers" and "Oh-Yeah-Baby Glazed Carrots". The oversize volume contains 75 recipes with clear instructions and illustrations built around Emeril's humorous headshots; easy-to-read icons designate cooking considerations, including difficulty levels (almost all require some adult supervision). - Publishers Weekly. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
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Rachael Ray is a big hit with the kids. Cooking Rocks! is a spin off her Food Network show 30-Minute Meals. The cookbook is full of photos and drawings with recipes that are age specific. Recommended for ages 4 to 10.
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Pretend Soup is the classic cookbook for kids, written by Mollie Katzen, author of the Moosewood Cookbook, and educator Ann Henderson. "The child is the focus here: attention is paid to physical ability, comfortable work levels, and the variety of tactile experience. A long list of skills and attitudes children can gain from cooking supports the idea that the process is more important than the product." - School Library Journal Recommended for ages 5 to 8.
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Although not as colorful and hip as some of the other cookbooks on this list, Marion Cunningham (Fannie Farmer Cookbooks) has created a book that teaches useful culinary skills for adults and children. It also touts the importance of quality family time when preparing meals. For example, in chapter one readers will make Vegetable Soup while learning how to chop vegetables, saute, tell the difference between boil and simmer, and how to be organized. Recommended for ages 7 and up.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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"American Girl" provides the reader with a logical approach to cooking; the more you cook, the better you get and once you are comfortable with the basics, you can really have a lot a fun. Before the chapters begin, there is an excellent section about getting started; kitchen tools and skills, care of the appliances and other things around the kitchen such as measuring techniques. - Children's Literature Recommended for ages 9 to 12
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Recipes written for adults, but easy enough for older children to make. Robert Surles was a former instructor at the French Culinary Institute. "The Calhoun School, a private school serving kindergarten to 12th-grade students in New York City, was searching for a chef to revolutionize school lunch and kids' eating habits. And that's where you'll find him today...." - from the publisher. Nominated for 2005 IACP Award in the Health and Special Diet Category.
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Opening up the magic world of cooking to children, Alice Waters describes, in the words of seven-year-old Fanny, the path food travels from the garden to the kitchen to the table. Teaching kids where food really comes from not just from the market but from farms and people who care about the earth, Fanny at Chez Panisse has lessons on the importance of eating with your hands, of garlic and of composting and recycling. With 46 recipes. Recommended for ages 9 to 12.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Real Cooking for Kids is full of recipes that will introduce kids to the fun and exciting world of the kitchen. Rob Seideman, president and founder of the renowned Cooking School of Aspen, has collected more than 40 of his favorite recipes from the school's hugely popular children's classes. Kids and adults alike will enjoy his entertaining recipes, as well as his lighthearted but informative presentation of cooking basics. Recommended for ages 9 to 12.
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This Williams-Sonoma spiral bound cookbook by Abigail Johnson Dodge has more than 40 recipes with easy to follow instructions. Classic cooking techniques are explained with lots of photos. A glossary of ingredients includes photos for easy identification. Recommended for ages 9 and up.