My boys, ages 11 and 4, love to read and eat -- not necessarily in that order. Back when my older son, Jai, was in preschool, he hit on the idea to make treats around the books we were reading. When we read Winnie the Pooh, we often made honey milkshakes topped with jelly bean "bumblebees." When we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom we ate fruit sprinkled with coconut (if you don't know why, read the book!)
What started as a fun way to read and eat became a family tradition. Today, the boys pick the books, decide on the foods, and help make them. Here are some of our favorites.
A Plate of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Let tiny meatball raindrops fall from mashed potato clouds onto steamed broccoli trees.
Read it once, read it twice, then bring it to life by making your own. Feel free to vary the ingredients list with whatever you have in your fridge, but you might want to try for 12 -- one for each month the boy celebrates his love of soup. Prepare all the fixings and serve salad bar style.
My kids loved this book and each time we would sit down to it, the boys would insist on bringing along carrots since the mommy bunny offers one to her child at the end of the story. We also made garden salads like this one, and "planted" the vegetables in neat rows.
This fruit trifle is layered with graham crackers, yogurt, and sweet granola. In the book, the caterpillar eats through a single red apple, two green pears, three purple plums, four red strawberries, and five oranges, so use these fruits if they're in season. But the caterpillar ate a lot of different fruits, so almost any choice will work here!
Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.