Books on Plates: Turning Children's Picture Books into Fun Food Experiences
Blueberries for Sal
In Robert McClosky's Blueberries for Sal, a little girl and a bear cub inadvertently swap mothers while gathering berries. The sweet story begins and ends with Sal and her mother in their kitchen—the perfect set-up for assembling a delicious blueberry dish with your own cub(s).
This blueberry crisp offers a quick reward with little effort, and the baking process is simple enough to include your child. Crisps are a traditional favorite for highlighting fresh berries, and this lighter version may become your new tradition.
Stone Soup is a classic folktale of ingenuity and community, and this Caldecott Honor edition by Macia Brown is especially worthy of a trip to the library. In the story, strangers introduce "stone soup" to an unfamiliar town, luring the curious locals to ask about the boiling pot and contribute an ingredient to it. It's a great book for teaching young people about the cooking process—and how small parts can make up a greater whole.
Spring Vegetable Soup
Stone soup is, at its essence, classic vegetable soup. Have fun with the process! At the market, let kids have fun selecting produce for this spring dinner. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to make it a vegetarian dish.
Where the Wild Things Are
Arguably the best children's picture book of all time, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is about imagination, adventure, and escape. It's a classic with the happiest of all endings: a warm, homemade meal.
Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Beef stew is the ultimate comfort food, even for Max, king of the Wild Things. You'll eat it up, you'll love it so!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle's beautifully illustrated tale of a caterpillar who binge-eats before his transformation into a butterfly is a mainstay of children's literature. In it, our protagonist eats strawberries, oranges, chocolate cake, ice cream, a pickle, Swiss cheese, salami, a lollipop, cherry pie, sausage, a cupcake, watermelon, and a single leaf—all in a weekend.
Mozza Fruit Skewers
The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats holes through the middle of lots of foods. You can keep the authenticity without the bug by skewering your young readers' favorite healthy snacks. These skewers are an easy and portable way to get a pick-me-up with fruit and cheese without the fork and bowl, making it easy for you to keep going with your busy reading schedule.
Amelia Bedelia is the most well-meaning of housekeepers who always takes directions a bit too literally. Draw the drapes? She'll grab a pen and paper. Dress a turkey? Here come some bird-sized clothes! No matter her hijinks, Amelia Bedelia can always turn the day around with her famously delicious baked goods.
Lemon Meringue Pie
The title character of Ludwig Bemelmans's Madeline is a brave, adventurous young boarding school student in Paris who stars in a dozen books. Read them all and work up an appetite for some kid-friendly French cuisine.
This breakfast option is fluffy, salty, cheesy, and will make you think you are in France. Using a gluten-free pie shell will also yield outstanding results. Serve this for breakfast or for brunch with a mixed greens salad. You'll finish each serving with the closing line of each Madeline story: "That's all there is, there isn't any more."
Harold and the Purple Crayon
In Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon, 4-year-old Harold uses his titular purple crayon to create a world in which to play. He starts with a simple path, travels across open water and cities, and ends up back in his own bed. It's been a favorite for young readers and aspiring artists since it was first published in 1955.
Blueberry-Peach Ice Pops
Harold's purple crayon exists in imagination only, but this blueberry-peach ice pop can be a fun substitute. An icy-fruity blueberry layer sandwiches creamy summer peach mousse for a stunning and delicious treat that children and adults will love.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond's contemporary classic features a mouse who asks for a cookie and a whole lot more ...and then another cookie. It's as irresistible as a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here's a chocolate chip cookie that will satisfy even the asking-est of storybook mice.
Butter moves from nutty and brown to bitter and burned quickly, so be sure to take the pan off the heat once it turns amber-brown. To keep cookies from spreading, make sure the cookie sheet is completely cool before starting the next batch.
Strega Nona's bottomless spaghetti pot has captured the fancy of young readers since Tomie dePaola introduced it in 1975. There are simple lessons about responsibility, consequences, and even portion control, but the real fun is in the whimsical magic and illustrated abundance of noodles.
Family-Style Chicken Spaghetti
Here's a Strega Nona-worthy family favorite that swaps jarred sauce for fresh—which requires just a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes. Don't forget to blow a few kisses at your noodle pot to prevent over-production.
Green Eggs and Ham
Dr. Seuss's timeless tale starring picky eater Sam I Am is an excellent primer for beginning readers—and eaters. Sam poetically refuses to eat green eggs and ham everywhere until he tries them, likes them, and vows to eat them anywhere.
Green Eggs and Ham Deviled Eggs
An ode to Dr. Seuss, both you and your kids will love snacking on these deviled eggs featuring avocado and prosciutto.
Pint-sized fans of Margaret and H.A. Rey's Curious George get to live vicariously through the small monkey's naughty-but-innocent activities. Accompanied by his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat, Curious George headlines an entire franchise of adventurous exploration.
Chocolate-Hazelnut-Banana Finger Sandwiches
If you've built an appetite with Curious George, these banana sandwiches will hit the spot.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Determined to make his way into Mr. McGregor's thriving garden, Peter Rabbit is an example to healthy young vegetable eaters everywhere. Beatrix Potter's series is over 100 years old, but the story, like McGregor's garden, is as fresh and appealing as ever.
Succotash is a vegetable medley for which Peter Rabbit and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail would trip over their feet. It's packed with enough fresh summer veggies to justify a garden (or farmer's market) raid.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
In Judi and Ron Barrett's richly imagined town of Chewandswallow, the locals live off the weather. It rains soup, snows mashed potatoes, and hamburgers blow into town with the wind. Even though the climate takes a turn for the worst, it's impossible to read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs without working up an appetite.
Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Whether you're serving up breakfast for dinner or a delicious weekend brunch, make an extra batch and freeze to save for busy mornings. Bonus: Many of our online reviewers have called these fluffy, flavorful pancakes the best they've ever tasted. Don't look for these to fall on your house, though—you'll need to whip them up yourself.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a jazzy, exciting book about a lowercase alphabet climbing up a coconut tree. The tree bends, accidents happen, and uppercase letters arrive to save the day.
Mile-High Coconut Cupcakes
Like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom's coconut tree, these mile-high coconut cupcakes are too light and fluffy to hold up all 26 letters, but they're nicely complemented by a lofty mound of creamy whipped topping.