Ask any adult to remember a few warm memories from their childhood, and more often than not, the conversation will lead to food. Taste is a sense that seems to have a direct tie to our pasts, conjuring up recollections of long-ago scenery with every bite. And that nostalgia gets even stronger if those flavors are wrapped up in home-cooked meals.
Unlike the childhoods of their parents, today's kids are growing up with smartphones. Clearly, that simple fact has changed the way they go about the world—in many more ways than one. And while parents can't do much about how they've embraced Google instead of an encyclopedia, or YouTube scrolling instead of channel surfing, they can still shape kids' future memories of food.
We collected the seven best kids' cookbooks to try with little ones that will either introduce them to the pleasures of making their own food or challenge them to expand on their budding interest in the kitchen. From pizza and apple sauce to French toast and tacos, these recipes can be a way to bond with your kids away from the easy distractions of a smartphone's screen, while also teaching them how to safely whip up a meal. So consider these cookbooks as a solution for curbing screen-time now, while possibly sparking warm memories for the future.
The Cookbook: Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) by Deanna F. Cook
Why We Love It: If there's one surface-level detail to immediately love about this book, it's that it's spiral-bound. But aside from that practical aspect—and others like recipe cards, labels, and game cards—this book lives up to its name for the wide array of kid-approved recipes inside. Depending on their age and level of interest, kids can learn how to make French toast, apple sauce, pizza, and a mug cake.
The Cookbook: American Girl Cooking: Recipes for Delicious Snacks, Meals & More by Williams-Sonoma and American Girl
Why We Love It: Adults and kids will likely recognize the American Girl credit on this cookbook, since the brand's dolls have been popular for ages. This cookbook is part of a popular series, and we like this one for its slightly more advanced recipes that everyone in the family can participate in creating. Examples include spaghetti and meatballs and chicken noodle soup, as well as snacks like popcorn and chips with guacamole.
The Cookbook: Fanny in France: Travel Adventures of a Chef's Daughter, With Recipes by Alice Waters
Why We Love It: There's a certain whimsical quality to this book, in which celebrated chef Alice Waters of the restaurant Chez Panisse and her daughter Fanny recount a trip to France based on the food Fanny helped create. Stories are told from Fanny's point of view, and share tales of cooking chicken and making cheese from scratch. It'll make your children want to explore, too.
The Cookbook: The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes by Editors of Phaidon Press
Why We Love It: If your kids love Italian food, then this cookbook should have them more than excited to learn how to make traditional recipes like rigatone and meatballs or minestrone soup. There's also classic margherita pizza, too, which is sure to become a weekend staple in your household.
The Cookbook: Honest Pretzels: And 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Cooks Ages 8 and Up by Mollie Katzen
Why We Love It: Of all Mollie Katzen's cookbooks for kids, this one is probably our favorite—and not just because of the name. We like how her language is particularly geared to boost excitement in kids about the wonders of cooking, whether they're jazzed to make cinnamon swirl sticky buns or maple yogurt fruit dip. Every single recipe has been kid-approved, so your little one is bound to love what they create, too.
The Cookbook: Tacos!: An Interactive Recipe Book by Lotta Nieminen
Why We Love It: As part of a series for young chefs that also includes the likes of pancakes and pizza, this colorful book is a winner because of its focus on the flavors and creativity involved in tacos. That includes cutting chicken, warming tortillas, mashing avocados, and then digging in.
The Cookbook: Complete Children's Cookbook: Delicious Step-by-Step Recipes for Young Cooks by DK
Why We Love It: Once younger chefs have grown a bit older, this cookbook shares the techniques they'll need to continue their craft—particularly, how to hold a knife, the names of well-used equipment, and how to be safe in the kitchen. There are also more advanced recipes to learn, too, like jambalaya and a tomato and basil tart.