8 by Eight
This month's 8 by Eight list focuses on books that inspire healthy eating, community gathering, and culinary experimentation!
In Our Food, Grace Lin provides an introduction to eating and food groups appropriate for a range of ages. Each section -- Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein foods, and Dairy -- includes short poems for young readers to learn (and sing!) coupled with information for older, inquisitive readers, who want to learn more. Complete with a glossary, Our Food will make an excellent addition to home and school libraries.
Chik Chak Shabbat is a personal favorite as it celebrates community gathering and food. Everyone in the building loves the smells that waft from apartment 5-A on Saturdays. Resident Goldie Simcha invites all her neighbors for cholent and tells stories of her grandmother, spending family time together, and celebrating Shabat. One week Coldie is sick and doesn't have time to make cholent. Her neighbors are Shocked! Flummoxed! Nevertheless, they each bring a special dish, gather together, and celebrate.
So You Want To Grow a Pizza? explains the food behind the food. What makes a pizza? Wheat in the crust, tomatoes in the sauce. Other books in this series include Salad, Taco, and Pie.
While Green Eggs and Ham is still a popular title for encouraging culinary exploration, No Kimchi for Me is a fun new twist on what to do when you KNOW you don't like a food. Yoomi wants nothing to do with the condiment, but Grandma shows her a secret recipe and she learns how to make Kimchi pancakes. Yummy! What happens on the other end of the spectrum? Like when Camilla Cream loves lima beans, even though all of her friends hate them? A Bad Case of the Stripes is a narrative about being yourself, no matter what anyone else says. And for the purposes of this list, the book is a reminder to all of us to celebrate food and healthy eating. Food shaming has consequences. Just look what happens to poor Camilla!
For younger readers, introduce global cuisine with local author Amy Wilson Sanger's series First Book of Sushi, Chaat & Sweets, A Little Bit of Soulfood, and more, which all include memorable rhymes and fun illustrations.
Lois Ehlert's Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z contains bold illustrations of fruits and vegetables from, you guessed it, A to Z or Apricot, Artichoke, Avocado, Apple, Asparagus to Zucchini. What's X? I'll let you find out for yourselves. Any guesses?
Finally, Tacos is one of several interactive cooking books that allow young chefs to participate in family dinner preparation alongside parents and siblings even at early ages. Tacos, Pancakes, Cookies, and Pizza are all available with lift the flaps, pull tabs, and touch-and-feel components for kids to pour, mix, and cook in the book. Extend family dinner to family dinner preparation. Cooking provides lessons in cooperation, mathematics, patience, with a satisfying conclusion to all that hard work.