By TMoM Team Member Ellen Bryant Lloyd

From a young age, I have loved being in the kitchen. I remember begging my mom to teach me how to cook at the age of six. So, I told her I didn’t want to “pretend” cook while standing on a chair beside her as she cooked. I wanted to cook real food to serve our family like she did.

For my first culinary experience, I learned how to make scrambled eggs by following a recipe, with my mom’s guidance, from my Winnie-The-Pooh Kids’ Cookbook. I clearly remember the thrill of cracking eggs into a large, brown ceramic bowl and then mixing in milk, salt and pepper. When I heard the pan sizzle when the egg mixture met the cast iron skillet, I knew I was cooking… for real!

My experience that day sealed my love of cooking. I followed my first “dish” with many others during my formative years: pancakes, French toast, macaroni and cheese, carrots, corn, butterbeans, spaghetti, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies and more. While home for Thanksgiving break my freshman year of college, my mom surprised me by asking if I would be in charge of making the stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal. That was always “her thing,” so inviting me to prepare this dish was a definite nod of confidence in my culinary skills.

I invited my children into the kitchen with me when they were very young. As toddlers, they helped retrieve ingredients, pour, mix and set the timer for recommended cooking times. As they grew older, they added chopping, stirring on the stove and checking for doneness to their repertoire.

Together, we enjoyed looking through my collection of cookbooks (including some passed down from my mom and grandmothers) for recipes that, from their perspective, “sounded good” for us to make. I am proud to say that both of my children know how to cook really well and seem to truly enjoy it. I especially love it when they send photos of meals they prepare — I am always impressed.

After being in our home for more than 20 years, we are now remodeling and updating our kitchen. As the cabinets, appliances, countertops and walls were removed, I found myself reflecting on the early years of time spent cooking with my children and cherishing the countless memories we made together in that space. I am so thankful for all these times but look forward to cooking with them in a refreshed space when they return home and creating new memories with them as adults.

Here are some suggestions for child-friendly cookbooks to help you create special memories with your children in the kitchen. From personal experience, I promise these times will be great gifts you will forever cherish. Enjoy!

Cooking with Kids: Fun, Easy, Approachable Recipes to Help Teach Kids How to Cook (Fox Chapel Publishing) 101 Easy Dishes to Help Your Children Learn Essential Life Skills in the Kitchen by Brianne Grajkowski

Described as the ultimate kids’ cookbook, this book is a great resource to help parents get children involved in the kitchen. In addition to 101 easy recipes written with clear, kid-friendly instructions, there are introductions to learning basic kitchen skills, utensils and tools. According to Cathy Alter, author and Washington Post “On Parenting” columnist,” Families will have a blast making these delicious and creative dishes while building confidence in the kitchen! This cookbook should be a main ingredient in every family’s kitchen!”

The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook by editors of Food Network magazine

This New York Times bestseller includes 150+ easy, fun recipes as well as games and food trivia. Recipes, which are created by Food Network’s trusted chefs, are designed to be foolproof and include color photos and special tips. A nice bonus — a cooking cheat sheet full of great tips, tricks and substitutions found on the removable book jacket. School Library Journal says, “This accessible and visually stunning cookbook will delight and inspire home cooks of all ages and get families cooking together.”

My First Cookbook: Fun recipes to cook together… with as much mixing, rolling, scrunching and squishing as possible! by Americas Test Kitchen Kids

What happens with America’s Test Kitchen joins forces with a group of kid recipe testers? The answer — a great cookbook for kids! This cooking collection includes family meals, holiday recipes and snacks for after-school, all kid-tested and, most important, kid-approved!

Super Simple Cooking for Kids: Learn to Cook with 50 Fun and Easy Recipes for Breakfast, Snacks, Dinner, and More! by Jodi Danen RDN

Author Jodi Danen is a registered dietician nutritionist who created 50 simple recipes children will enjoy eating while also building their confidence in the kitchen. Each recipe was created with a kitchen beginner, primarily those age 8-12, in mind and sticks to the basics, without fuss or complicated ingredients. Children are sure to experience success while referring to this cookbook.

The Delish Kids (Super-Awesome, Crazy-Fun, Best-Ever) Cookbook: 100+ Amazing Recipes by Joanna Saltz

This cookbook for children focuses on fun, easy and tasty recipes that your children will love to make. There are over 100 great recipes as well as helpful tricks for young chefs to use in the kitchen, building culinary confidence while impressing their audience. Designed for ages 8-12, each recipe features tips, step-by-step photos and clear instructions. There are also fun facts about the history of dishes as well as cherished family recipes shared by grandmothers across the country.

Super Simple Baking for Kids: Learn to Bake with over 55 Easy Recipes for Cookies, Muffins, Cupcakes and More! by Charity Mathews

Baking delicious treats is another great way to broaden culinary skills. This book helps acquaint children ages 6-12 with the world of baking and highlights yummy, simple recipes along with photos and useful tips. The great advice and 55 recipes will surely inspire children to develop a love of baking.

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Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband and her daughter, when she is home from college. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.

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