Kids & Parents

The Very Hungry Mother

I love spending time with my kids, but in the words of Ralph Covert, “I need, and I need a lot of what I need...that’s C-O-F-F-E-E.”

I admit it: Whether it’s coffee, chocolate, or both, I depend on food to boost my mood and help me through the long summer days.  

My strategy of choice is to make a pan of brownies and then sneak morsels here and there.

Sure, it’s embarrassing when my kids call me out: “Mommy, why do you smell like chocolate?” – but I bravely work through the shame:

"Mommy just needed a little something - now you finish your strawberry yogurt smoothie!"

Some people ground themselves via mindfulness or exercise or gardening. I have sugar.

Oh – and books. You know that hour between the park and dinner when your kids not so much melt down but catch fire and burn everything in their path?

At that point, I read to my kids.  Getting lost in pictures and stories and whole other worlds transports me and my kids back to the green zone.  

Technically, books may be highly flammable, but in my house, storytime puts out fires better than anything else I know. 

So – given my love for reading and eating, it would make sense that another way to pass the time productively would be to cook with my kids, right?  But for me, cooking with kids can be kind of like camping – it’s more fun when it’s over.*

I genuinely admire those who manage to do it without a second thought.  However, I need to be in a mood good enough to keep me smiling through dripping eggs…flour explosions…a million dirty dishes.  Which doesn't happen as often as I'd like. 

So when I don’t have the energy to actually cook with my kids, we biblio-chow: read a little, snack a lot.

Head to outer space from the comfort of your couch, and snack on those portable tubes of applesauce - astronaut food!

Think Blueberries for Sal, paired with washing and eating blueberries.

Munch popcorn while reading The Popcorn Book (popcorn is just as magical whether it’s cooked in the microwave or on the top of the stove)

"Yum...yum...extra yum!" See if you can get your kids to eat spinach alongside Little Pea. (For a truly perfect accompaniment, find some spinach-flavored Jelly Bellies®.)

Looking for a good reason for a donut?  Here you go: Read Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion...and then veggie it up later with Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli.

Of course, there's always The Very Hungry Caterpillar…although with that title, you run the risk of serious caterpillar envy:  Alone, in a cocoon, for two glorious weeks? Sign me up!


But I digress. Read it, weep, and then make a fruit salad or, if you’re feeling ambitious, fruit kebabs. 

Mmm…kebabs. Make some after you chuckle your way through The Knight and the Dragon Or, if you want a vegetarian option, try our family’s favorite recipe for black bean burgers.

Highly recommended: Recipes involving mashing, because kids stay happy mashing for a very long time. Guacamole, banana bread, I want it all!

If cooking with kids is no big deal for you...then first of all, I want to be just like you when I grow up.

(How do you handle the chaos? Can I come live with you?)

Next, browse our collection of kids’ cookbooks - start with some titles listed below that complement our Summer Reading Club theme

No matter how you involve kids in the kitchen, take a page from the very hungry caterpillar’s book, and make your way through one leaf every day.  Whether a leaf from a book or a bona fide green plant leaf, I’m sure that will help us all feel much better.

But just in case, I’ll also take some advice from a really smart mouse, and I’ll make an emergency pan of brownies to go with it.

*If my children are reading this: I have many happy memories with you in the kitchen, and I love our traditions of smelling the vanilla and taste-testing the chocolate chips. I wouldn't trade the time we spend together for anything. What I mean to convey is that I'm tired. All the time. Maybe it's all the sugar.


Start your day with breakfast from a galaxy far, far away. Check out these recipes from BB-Ate by Lara Starr, or The Star Wars Cookbook II by Frankie Frankeny, and be sure to visit the library this summer to Travel Through Our Solar System in July!

Fancy Nancy Tea Parties

One lump or two?  Read all about Fancy Nancy's suggestions for a successful tea in Fancy Nancy Tea Parties by Jane O'Connor, or take it up a notch and check out Victoria, the Essential Tea Companion.  


Whether or not freshly baked scones make it to your table, register to attend the Chicago Children's Theatre's Beatrix Potter & Friends performance at the library on June 30.  

Silver Spoon

Imagine that you're climbing the Italian Alps this summer at our "Readers Explore" event this summer, and enjoy a delicious homemade Italian meal with the recipes you find in The Silver Spoon for Children by Amanda Grant.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs cookbook

Read about the land of Chewandswallow in Judy Barrett's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, then recreate the adventures at home using Grandpa's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cookbook.

Fairy Tale Feasts

Travel to magical lands!  Fairy Tale Feasts does the planning for you, combining a fairy tale with a recipe from the prolific author Jane Yolen.

My MediaMall for Kids

One of my fears as a parent is having to wait somewhere without a book to read to my kids. Checking out e-books to download from My Media Mall for Kids onto my phone is a great way to make sure that I always have something for them to read. 

If it ends up being a frozen pizza night, check out Secret Pizza Party to go with your meal...or if you're feeling more adventurous, bring some magic to the kitchen and try out some recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman celebrates all the amazing resources that go in to an apple pie. Non-negotiable: Eat an apple pie after reading.  It's educational!

How Are You Peeling?

Experience food-art-reading mashup in How Are You Peeling? from Saxton Freymann.

If you don't have time to make art happen at home, check out some of the art programs we are offering this summer here and here.

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