Thank you for having me on the GROG Blog today! I appreciate the opportunity to write about two things that are near and dear to my heart:
BOOKS and FOOD.
For me, there’s nothing like the thrill and enjoyment of sharing a good story.
. . . Except perhaps the thrill and enjoyment of sharing a tasty treat!
Let’s face it. We all love to eat. And we all have to eat. So what better way could there be to extend the pleasure of storybooks than through cooking—and eating?!
One of my eldest daughter’s favorite school clubs when she was younger was the Storybook Cooks’ Club. Each week the teacher read a new story to the children. After the reading, she assisted the children in preparing a relevant food.
|Mr. Wolf's Pancakes|
By Jan Fearnley
One week my daughter came home with a jam sandwich (The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway). Another week she brought home a pancake (Mr. Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley).
A third week it was pizza (Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig). And every week she came home with a huge smile and couldn’t wait to tell the rest of the family about her day. (This may not sound unusual to you, but trust me, any other time I’d ask her what she’d done in school and she would merely reply, “Nothing!” So it was fantastic to have her come home wanting to talk about something she’d done at school.)
|If You Give a Mouse a Cookie|
Written by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond
When I became a teacher, I borrowed this same idea. My students made healthy milkshakes after reading Oliver’s Milkshake by Vivian French. They also decorated cookies after reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. They loved combining reading time with food preparation, and the story stayed with them longer.
There are many other books with obvious cooking connections like The Gingerbread Man, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and even Green Eggs and Ham. But what about those books that have less obvious connections and don’t feature food? This is when you can actually have more fun with children in the kitchen. This is when you have the opportunity to stretch your creative muscles and use your imagination to cook up something new.
For example, my debut book, There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie, is a Scottish version of the classic rhyme about the old lady who swallows a fly. While the Wee Lassie eats something on every page, she doesn’t eat anything appropriate for children.
|There was a Wee Lassie who Swalled a Midgie|
Written by Rebecca Colby
Illustrated by Kate McLelland
So this got me thinking—what food would be appropriate for a Wee Lassie? Haggis? Porridge? Cock-a-leekie soup? She’d probably eat all of these things. But what would be fun for children to make?
Why Midgie Shortbread, of course!
I immediately set to work on a shortbread recipe. My children then helped me make the shortbread, stirring in chocolate sprinkles to represent the midgies. There is no shortbread in the book, but I was still able to find an appropriate cooking activity by getting creative.
My recently released book is about a witch parade and it’s called It’s Raining Bats and Frogs. While frog legs are a perfectly acceptable food (especially for witches), I don’t know many children who want to eat them. But that doesn’t mean they can’t cook up some other inspired witchy treats. Perhaps they’d like spaghetti worms or grape eyeballs? Or how about some bread stick witch fingers? Or some cheese dip bat bites? Children won’t forget this book anytime soon if they make a witchy menu to accompany it. And speaking of witches, here is a clue for the scavenger hunt: Tabitha.
|It's Raining Bats & Frogs|
Written by Rebecca Colby
Illustrated by Steven Henry
There are other benefits to cooking extension activities, as well. They allow children to learn about nutrition and food safety. As a teacher, I especially liked that cooking activities provided opportunities for cross-curricular learning. My students were able to practice their English and Math skills without even realizing it--by following recipe instructions and carefully measuring ingredients.
I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas to get started cooking up your own storybook recipes. But if you’re still stuck for ideas, check out this gem of a book I found when I was teaching:
The Little Book of Cooking from Stories: Ideas for Cooking with Early Years Foundation Stage Children, Using Stories as Starting Points by Sally Featherstone, London: A & C Black, 2009.
|The Little Book of Cooking from Stories|
By Sally Featherstone
It has ideas and recipes to accompany 27 different storybooks, making recipes as diverse as vegetable soup to chapattis to jam tarts. It’s sure to inspire you!
So what are you waiting for? Grab a book and a child and get cooking!
Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected pantyhose, and taught English in Taiwan, worked for a Russian comedian and traveled the world as a tour director.
Learn more about Rebecca and It’s Raining Bats & Frogs Blog Tour and On-line Scavenger Hunt with a total of eight bloggers.
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Thank you Rebecca for your delightful and informative ideas and the opportunity to participate in the On-line Scavenger Hunt. The combination of books and food are a favorite of mine, also. I picked this flower for you.
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