Children’s cookbooks can be anything from books used by teenagers who are eager to become independent in the kitchen to cookbooks for toddlers who will definitely need lots of help from an adult.
Parents and grandparents have long known that giving a picky eater a chance to play a role in how a meal is prepared can be a great way to encourage kids to try a wider range of foods. A child who participates in making something is naturally going to be much more interested in tasting it. Kids who help make a salad or season a sauce may not completely abandon their obsession with chicken fingers, but cookbooks for kids are a great way to point them in that direction.
Children’s cookbooks can help kids learn skills that they will use outside the kitchen. The importance of following directions in a particular order is one obvious example of a skill than can be reinforced by using a cookbook. And for some kids, the connection between science and cooking is an area of real excitement that can have all kinds of practical applications.
Some cookbooks for kids are specifically designed to help kids build their reading abilities as well. We particularly admire the way Mollie Katzen’s three books offer recipes accompanied by simple drawings and easy-to-read words. They give kids multiple ways to learn and feel a sense of accomplishment. If those sound like great books for the kids you’re thinking of, we suggest taking a look at Pretend Soup and Salad People for kids who are just starting to read; Honest Pretzels is a good choice for kids whose reading and cooking skills are a little more developed.
There are also wonderful cookbooks for teens (and for kids who would be glad to be paid the compliment of being treated like a teen.) And there are some ambitious books for young bakers as well.
And even in your toddler isn’t ready for a cookbook, consider some of the story books about kids who learn to help out in the kitchen or eat more adventurously. It’s never too soon!