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Summer Books and Activities for Kids

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What's cooking?

How to explore this theme:

  1. Choose books and book-related activities
  2. Explore more hands-on activities
  3. Try some summer writing
  4. Dig deeper with these websites
  5. Play and learn with interactive mobile apps

#1: Choose kids' books and book-related activities Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo | Illustrated by: Beth Lo

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40 year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.

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Bee-Bim Bop!

Bee-Bim Bop!

By: Linda Sue Park | Illustrated by: Ho Baek Lee

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

What's better than just eating a favorite dish? Anticipating it while preparing it, of course! Rhythmic, rhyming language and playful illustrations capture the joy of making this special Korean dish — and the joy of sharing it.

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Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis

By: Robbin Gourley

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Edna Lewis grew up on a Virginia farm where she developed a deep appreciation for the rhythm of nature, the beauty in growing things, and the warmth in sharing a home cooked meal. Edna's early life and passion led to a career as a professional chef known for preserving cooking traditions. Several recipes are included in this handsome, lively book.

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Chicken Sunday

Chicken Sunday

By: Patricia Polacco

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Love and caring extend across generations and cultures as a young Jewish girl from a Russian background and two African-American boys work creatively to get their gramma, Miss Eula, an Easter hat. Illustrations detail the warmth of the relationships as well as the subtleties of their different backgrounds.

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Cook-A-Doodle-Do!

Cook-A-Doodle-Do!

By: Janet Stevens | Illustrated by: Susan Stevens Crummel

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A charming picture book about a hen who decides to make a strawberry shortcake with her friends...none of whom know anything about cooking. Iguana tries to measure the flour with a ruler! Hen teaches about measuring properly with the right tools and the author includes side notes about dry versus liquid measuring, as well as equivalents such as 1 stick butter = 1 cup = 8 tablespoons.

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Dim Sum for Everyone

Dim Sum for Everyone

By: Grace Lin

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A Chinese family goes out for dim sum ("little dishes"), choosing their favorites off the restaurant cart and sharing with each other. The illustrations evoke the textures and patterns in this traditional meal, and an endnote provides background on the cultural history and customs surrounding dim sum.

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Easy as Pie

Easy as Pie

By: Cari Best | Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jacob learns a great deal from his favorite television baker, Chef Monty. And he puts those skills to great use just in time for his parents' anniversary making dessert — a peach pie — the celebration's first course. Jacob's good humor and problem solving skills (with a little help from his sister) make for sweet reading.

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Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham

By: Dr. Seuss

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Sam-I-Am tirelessly tries to convince the other guy that he'll just adore green eggs and ham. Resistance is futile. However, to the nameless fellow's delight, he discovers that he indeed likes the delicacy and will eat them everywhere! Readers — new and experienced — appreciate the silliness and verve of this rhyming adventure.

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Green Is a Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper

By: Roseanne Thong | Illustrated by: John Parra

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Colors introduce foods and more Mexico and other Spanish-speaking counties. Naïve style illustrations accompany bouncy rhymes that incorporate Spanish words; all colors appear in both Spanish and English.

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How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food

By: Lucia Gaggiotti

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ever wonder how the food we eat came to be in a lunchbox? Brief text and lively illustrations describe food starts as well as healthy eating habits.

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Rainbow Stew

Rainbow Stew

By: Cathryn Fallwell

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The children are distressed that it's raining while visiting their grandfather. But Grandpa has the children don rain gear to "find colors for garden stew." Vegetables collected, the family makes and eats a delicious stew. Joy-filled illustrations accompany the rhythmic text.

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Take Me to Your BBQ

Take Me to Your BBQ

By: Kathy Duval | Illustrated by: Adam McCauley

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Willy's barbeque is about the best around, even attracting green, 3-eyed, barbeque-loving aliens! Laughs abound in the rhyming tale and swirling, understated illustrations and its surprise ending.

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The Food Parade: Healthy Eating with Nutritious Food Groups

The Food Parade: Healthy Eating with Nutritious Food Groups

By: Elicia Castaldi

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The mayor of Food Town introduces each of the five groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, protein, and dairy. Each personified group parades through town with its relatives. Humorous illustrations of foods with personality, all labeled, are used with an understated text to present palatable nutrition information. A bit more easily digestible information ends the book.

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The Honeybee Man

The Honeybee Man

By: Lela Nargi | Illustrated by: Kyrsten Brooker

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Fred is an urban beekeeper who shares the fruits of his work with neighbors. Information about beekeeping and bees is included.

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Tyler Makes a Birthday Cake

Tyler Makes a Birthday Cake

By: Tyler Florence | Illustrated by: Craig Frazier

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Tyler forgets his dog’s birthday, he goes to Mr. Baker to learn how to bake a cake. There the boy learns about where the ingredients for a carrot cake originate. Childlike illustrations provide information and humorous asides from Tofu, the dog. Tyler’s DOG carrot cake recipe is included.

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Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

By: George Shannon | Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The ingredients needed to make cookies launch a journey around the world to find out who contributed what from different parts of the world. Rhyming couplets and cheery illustrations reminiscent of folk art combine to answer the question posed as a title.

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child

By: Jessie Hartland

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

She wore a size 12 shoe, was a spy during World War II, and her name became synonymous with classic French cooking. An informal, engaging, and surprisingly comprehensive biography of Julia Child is presented though a format that is reminiscent of both a scrapbook and a comic book. The result is sure to engross sophisticated young foodies again and again.

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Eating Fractions

Eating Fractions

By: Bruce MacMillan

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

How do two children share one banana? Cut it in half, of course! Healthy foods are shared by dividing them into in thirds and quarters in this cogent introduction to fractions. Crisp photographs and clear graphics create an appealing book to make sense of fractions.

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Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup!

Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup!

By: Emeril Lagasse | Illustrated by: Charles Yuen

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The celebrity chef shares his thrill in making kitchen creations in this lighthearted but informative and oversized cookbook. It's ideal for beginner cooks.

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Emeril's There's a Chef in My World! Recipes to Take You Places

Emeril's There's a Chef in My World! Recipes to Take You Places

By: Emeril Lagasse | Illustrated by: Charles Yuen

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tastes from around the world will emerge from your kitchen as you try these simplified and easy-to-follow recipes from an appealing (if somewhat hammy!) celebrity chef. Recipes are presented step by step, with photographs and humorous illustrations.

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Fannie in the Kitchen

Fannie in the Kitchen

By: Deborah Hopkinson | Illustrated by: Nancy Farmer

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Animated illustrations combine with lively text to reveal the story behind the woman whose name is synonymous with cooking. Before Fannie Farmer took to the kitchen, recipes were not as easy to follow!

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Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

By: Jacqueline Briggs Martin | Illustrated by: Eric-Shabazz Larkin

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Martin shares the remarkable life story of former professional basketball player Will Allen, urban farmer and food educator. Straightforward prose and colorful illustrations done in muscular ink lines express the energy and confidence of the book’s subject as he works alongside smiling grownups and kids. Abundant back matter includes information about Allen’s work. [School Library Journal]

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Food Trucks!

Food Trucks!

By: Mark Todd

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

What’s got “shoots and roots and dried fruits, cucumbers, carrots, and croutons to boot”? Why it’s Mr. Cobb, the salad truck! A veritable vacant-lot-full of food trucks with personality parade through 16 piquant poems. Two-page spreads are spiced up with food facts and hearty illustrations full of fun details. [School Library Journal]

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Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Dr. Seuss

By: Georgeanne Brennan | Illustrated by: Frankie Frankeny

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Eat chocolate rocks? Or sizzling hot pebbles? Real — and edible — recipes inspired by green eggs and ham and other zany Seuss characters are presented in an easy-to-follow, clearly organized (from breakfast to dinner) cookbook illustrated with Seuss' own illustrations as well as an occasional food photo. This is an ideal book for young cooks and the adults in their lives — all while sharing or even creating their own Seussian recipes!

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Kids Cooking:  A Very Slightly Messy Manual

Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual

By: The authors of Klutz | Illustrated by: Jim McGuinness

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dr. Seuss could have come up with the names of these lip-smacking delights! Frozen Bananoids, Soap Bubbles Supreme — the recipes may have peculiar names, but they are familiar to and enjoyed by children and adults alike.

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Kids' Multicultural Cookbook: Food and Fun Around the World

Kids' Multicultural Cookbook: Food and Fun Around the World

By: Deanna Cook

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Take a culinary tour around the world, with foods and activities from a variety of countries and cultures. Each recipe is ranked for difficulty, and is sometimes a familiar dish with an exotic name!

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Little Kitchen: 40 Delicious and Simple Things that Children Can Really Make

Little Kitchen: 40 Delicious and Simple Things that Children Can Really Make

By: Sabrina Parrini

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Tasty meals begin with healthy, balanced recipes. Clear instructions for broadly appealing meals are presented in easy-to-follow and appealing photographs.

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Our School Garden!

Our School Garden!

By: Rick Swann | Illustrated by: Christy Hale

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The garden at Michael’s new school is full of fresh sensations. Thirteen poems describe holding a handful of compost, eating a leaf, watching a bug, and more. Richly textured mixed-media illustrations in earthy tones follow a diverse class as they plan, plant, harvest, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Notes and resources expand on the text. [School Library Journal]

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Pinch and Dash Make Soup

Pinch and Dash Make Soup

By: Michael Daley | Illustrated by: Thomas Yezerski

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Pinch is too lazy to make his own soup so visits his friend, Dash who is making some. With ingredients from both kitchens, however, the friends make a tasty soup which turns into an inedible disaster. Short chapters and engaging illustrations create an accessible, engaging book for newly independent readers.

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The Kids Can Press Jumbo Cookbook

The Kids Can Press Jumbo Cookbook

By: Judi Gilles, Jennifer Glossap

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

From soup to desserts, this book introduces the reader to a wide variety of recipes. There is something for the novice as well as the skilled cook — and the adventurous as well as the finicky eater! Information on safety and nutrition are included in this appetizing presentation.

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The Ugly Vegetables

The Ugly Vegetables

By: Grace Lin

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

In a neighborhood of flower gardens, a Chinese-American girl and her mother plant what the child considers to be ugly vegetables. The ugly vegetables, however, become attractive and help build community when made into a delicious soup! A recipe is included.

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The Vegetables We Eat

The Vegetables We Eat

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Some are perennials, others are annuals, but one thing is for sure: vegetables are grown to be eaten! This introduction to edible plants will inform and may lead to discussions of where vegetables grow, how we eat them, and when they are harvested.

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To Market, to Market

To Market, to Market

By: Nikki McClure | Illustrated by: Nikki McClure

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A child and his mother go to a farmers' market to get fresh produce and goods. On alternating pages, the person responsible for growing each kind of food is introduced, bringing to light many unknown jobs as well as food sources. The bold linear illustrations are created by handsome paper cut-outs.

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

Cool World Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids!

Cool World Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids!

By: Lisa Wagner

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Delicious and very nearly foolproof recipes from Mexico, France, Italy, Africa, the Middle East, and China & Japan. Attractive photos illustrate cooking processes like shredding, mashing, trussing a chicken, and checking for doneness. Foods like carrot salad or tabbouleh add diversity — and vegetarian options — to the recipe collection. [School Library Journal]

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The World in Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods

The World in Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods

By: Claire Eamer | Illustrated by: Sa Boothroyd

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

An assignment from the school cooking teacher prompts a boy to investigate the ingredients in his lunch — banana, watermelon, potato, tortilla, ice cream, etc. With a kid-friendly structure and super-goofy illustrations, this is probably the best book on the history and science of familiar foods to have been published for kids in recent years. [School Library Journal]

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More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

Download and print >