Quick Lit: Kids’ Cookbooks

In my monthly recap posts, I’ve mentioned trying to teach my kids to cook or at least basic kitchen skills – they are only 7 and 5, so I’m not expecting them to start cooking dinner or anything, but they’re still ready to learn some things.

Because it’s what I do, I started with some books and checked a stack out from the library. These were my favorites:

New Junior CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook

What I liked about it: My son really likes this as a collection of recipes – they’re appealing, and it’s colorful. He’s requested that I buy it for him as he wants his own copy, instead of just reading the library copy.

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

The Disney Princess CookbookThe Disney Princess Cookbook

What I liked about it: My daughter LOVES this book – it’s got princesses! I was actually fairly impressed with this one – I liked that the recipes were mostly really recipes, not just assemble a couple of items together. The recipes are cleverly tied to the princess theme, and they have an index at the back combining some of the recipes to have a themed meal. It’s very cute. She also wants her own copy of this, and it’s quite likely that both kids will get their preferred book for Christmas.

It’s a great cookbook, and really appealing for young cooks (ok, young girls; my son was unimpressed).

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

National Geographic Kids Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

What I liked about it: Loved the format for this one – it follows the calendar year, and is filled with food traditions and facts from around the world.

Why this didn’t work for me: it would be better for older kids, as it’s not a beginning book. I did really like the year theme, and it would be fun to work through it in the future, but it’s not right for us at this stage.

How to Cook in 10 Easy LessonsHow to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons

What I liked about it: This was the best I found at giving cooking instruction – it’s structured to actually teach, not just be a book of recipes. The ten lessons work very well to address specific skills – using knives, peeling & grating, etc.

Why this didn’t (perfectly) work for me: What was less successful was the fact that we couldn’t just start at the beginning and work through the book – some recipes ended up referring to skills that hadn’t been taught yet. I wanted it to be open-and-go for me, and I ended up having to rearrange things more than desired.

It’s also written originally for a UK audience, and not everything was translated/adapted for a US audience. Most of it was, but there were some things that were not the same for us. A minor quibble, but when it was something my son was reading carefully, it added an extra layer of complication.

The Results

Since it was the closest to what I wanted, I bought a copy of How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons, and used it for about 6 weeks, with varying degrees of success. The Key Lime Pie was delicious, the Chocolate Cake was dreadful, and everything else was somewhere in between.

Mostly it ended up not working that well as an actual cooking lesson, and it really wasn’t easily designed to take beginners in a sequential way through things, let alone beginners of different ages and abilities.

So it’s not so much that it was a bad book, just that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I think it will work better once my kids have those basic skills, and they can practice them more with this book.

What We’re Using Now

Tomorrow I’ll share about what I ended up finding, and what we’re using instead. It’s not what I thought I wanted or intended to use, but it’s working really really well so far.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Recent Cookbook Reads, Twitterature-Style
Three years ago: Recent Reads, Twitterature-Style


  1. What a great idea to find kid-friendly books about cooking. Too bad you couldn’t get all you need from one book (instructions plus recipes). I am going to pin this for future use!

  2. What a great round-up! I love the idea of the National Geographic cookbook. My son is still too young to help in the kitchen but I will keep that one in mind when he gets a bit older.

  3. I’m going to remember the Disney princess cookbook for Nora for Christmas! Sounds like she’d love it too.

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