My kids love the written word. Every night they are transported to new worlds and adventures through their books. While I read to them, they sometimes ask to try new foods that the characters in the stories have eaten or cooked.
These are some of my family’s books of choice for expanding young minds and stretching tiny palates.
We’ve read all 13 of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, joining the three Baudelaire orphans as they get carted off from guardian to guardian. After reading The Bad Beginning (book one), in which the Baudelaires made puttanesca sauce, our kids wanted to try it.
Olives and capers are some of their favorite foods, so our easy puttanesca recipe with angel hair pasta was a big hit. Afterward we let the kids watch the movie and introduced them to the comic genius of Jim Carrey.
Cornelia Funke writes books for every age group. Can a little forest brownie girl make our kids want to try all sorts of mushrooms? Yep. Just pick up a copy of Dragon Rider, about a boy named Ben who goes on an adventure to magical lands with a talking dragon and a brownie girl named Sorel. Everybody in our family loves truffles now.
Last Christmas, we read the feel-good Christmas tale When Santa Fell to Earth. The hilarious story sparked my children’s interest in marzipan because it was one of Santa’s magical reindeer’s favorite foods.
We’ve also been transfixed over her novels. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, takes us on a journey to Fruitless Mountain with a little girl named Minli. The dragon in the story cried tears as big as lychees, and my little one said, “What’s a lychee?” So off to the Asian supermarket we went to try one.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is my 2-year-old’s favorite bedtime book. He loves to “read” and count all the foods the caterpillar ate. The caterpillar consumes a lot of fruits during his week of binging in the big wide world — plums, oranges, strawberries — and we talk about that every time we see different fruits.
A version of this story originally was published on Itty Bitty Foodies.