Tag: book list (page 1 of 2)

10 Books About God for Toddlers

This summer, we planted flowers—rows and rows of them. In the bed typically dedicated to trailing squash, we sprinkled seeds that grew into cosmos, zinnias, poppies (four kinds), larkspur, dainty dwarf zinnias, snapdragons. Walking barefoot among those rows, watching the flowers wake, became one of our favorite morning routines.

But inside our home, another kind of flower unfurled as Josie took her first steps, said her first words, and learned how to make us laugh. She shed her babyhood, in which she watched the world happen around her, and stepped into the thick of things, poking at and exploring the world and expecting it to respond.

10 Books About God for Toddlers | Little Book, Big Story

I had watched this transition three times before, but, like watching flowers shed those green things that encapsulate crumpled petals, it is amazing every time—I think because, with each child, I see more clearly how little I did to bring about that unfolding personality and how much of it was already there, sown into each daughter before I had ever seen her face.

So, in honor of Josie’s summer of unfurling, I made a list for you of my favorite books for toddlers. We love Sandra Boynton and BabyLit books, of course, but this list is for the little ones demanding answers from the world: If I poke the cat, what does he do? If I make this face, will Mama laugh? Let’s give them big answers in small books and see what happens:

10 Books About God for Toddlers | Little Book, Big Story

Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise, by Tomie de Paola

Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise | Little Book, Big Story

This exuberant book considers every aspect of creation and urges it all to praise God. Beautiful, simple, and vibrantly illustrated. (Read the full review.)

Found, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Found, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

Sally Lloyd-Jones’ newest book leads readers through Psalm 23, drawing out the tenderness and warmth of our Good Shepherd as she paraphrases the familiar psalm into a poem that moves readers big and small. Jago’s illustrations here are stunning. (Read the full review.)

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall

Read-Aloud Bible Stories, by Ella K. Lindvall | Little Book, Big Story

Each volume of these Bible stories is full of familiar stories, written in language that looks simple but does justice to the biggest truths of our faith. (Read the full review.)

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, by naoko stoop

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, by Naoko Stoop (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Naoko Stoop’s sweet board book departs from the usual Noah’s Ark/Joseph’s Coat/Moses’ Moment at the Red Sea picture books and gently unwraps 1 Corinthians 13 for readers. (Read the full review.)

Hug-a-Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Baby's Hug-a-Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

Fuzzy on the outside, rich and vibrant on the inside. Lloyd-Jones introduces small readers to the idea that the Bible is not just a collection of epic stories, but an invitation from God to know him, by condensing the truths of a handful of Bible stories into short, beautiful poems.

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie De Paola

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie dePaola | Little Book, Big Story

Tomie dePaola’s book of gratitude is one that pokes at parents as we read it to our kids. The text and illustrations are simple but weighty, and they urge us to look around and savor the God who made all things big and small. (Read the full review.)

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field

Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field | Little Book, Big Story

Prayer for a Child is a sweet but not too sweet look at prayer from a child’s perspective. My copy doesn’t show it, but this one won the Caldecott in 1945—at a time when the children reading it were living through a world war. (Read the full review.)

Lift the Flap Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Lift-the-Flap Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

What toddler doesn’t love lifting flaps? Sally Lloyd-Jones again distills favorite Bible stories down to their gospel essence, while Tracey Moroney’s bright illustrations give little hands plenty to do while they listen. (Read the full review.)

The Biggest Story ABCs, by Kevin DeYoung

The Biggest Story ABCs, by Kevin DeYoung | Little Book, Big Story

Using the alphabet as a guide, Kevin DeYoung lays out the big story of Scripture from beginning to end in a way that points back to Jesus over and over. (Read the full review.)

Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible | Little Book, Big Story

No booklist on this blog would be complete without The Jesus Storybook Bible. The truths in here are huge, but the format is small: perfect for introducing toddlers to Jesus through the beautiful stories of Scripture. This book is a standard second birthday gift in our home. (Read the full review.)


What About You? Which books do you love to read to your toddlers?

10 Books That Celebrate Spring

Some years February is mopey and melancholic. It mists the back of my neck with gray rain, and the clouds seem so low, so immovable that I’m tempted to reach up and try to touch them. But this year, I detected a decided tone of mockery in February’s weather: it snowed, and then the snow turned to gray slush and then it went away. The sun came out for a week or so then, warm enough for walking and wondering at crocuses and snowdrops and feeling hopeful about life in general.

And then the snow came back.

It was white and fluffy snow, the kind of snow we’re glad to see in November. But I caught myself shaking my fist at it and wanting to retreat into some inner part of me that remembered crocuses and snowdrops and the promising first shoots of daffodils. Instead, I dug out the picture books.

Normally, I like to fill the weeks of Lent with posts about beautiful Easter books. But this year I decided to start with a list of books about spring, when the whole earth (well, this hemisphere of it) resurrects, and new life buds and blooms in every corner.

10 Books That Celebrate Spring | Little Book, Big Story

You can find a list of my favorite traditional Easter stories here, and I’ll post more in the weeks to come. But today, we’re doing something a little different, something that looks at the new life promised in those crocuses and birds’ eggs.

These are books—many of them poetry—that make you want to go outside and wonder at the world contained within a droplet of water. They are books that till the soil within us so we are ready to consider the breaking up, sowing, and bursting forth that is Easter.

But Then it’s Spring, by Julie Fogliano

This sweet book echoes exactly my impatience right now. “First you have brown, all around you have brown . . . “. But Then It’s Spring reads like a poem—but a charming poem, not a chanty one. And Erin Stead illustrates it with all the warmth and beauty of A Sick Day for Amos McGee (one of our favorites).

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies

This “First Book of Nature” is full of poems that span the entire year, but we’ve been reading through the spring section for now, savoring Davies’ meditations on cherry blossoms and birds’ nests. The book is big, with gorgeous collage illustrations, bright colors, and text that celebrates the small beauties around us.

The Creation Story, by Norman Messenger

The Creation Story | Little Book, Big Story

It is good to remember where all those plants begin, and wonderful to consider that they all spring from the ones spoken into being by God. Norman Messenger’s illustrations are filled with detail and life and do this first story justice. (Read the full review.)

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, by Valerie Worth

All the Small Poems, by Valerie Worth | Little Book, Big Story

These short poems are not only about spring, but they rest briefly on many spring-related topics, like flowers and small creatures and rain . Worth’s poems are a delight to read together, and remind us of the wonder tucked into some of the most ordinary aspects of our lives. (Read the full review.)

A Seed is Sleepyby Dianna Hutts Aston

A Seed is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts Aston | Little Book, Big Story

A Seed is Sleepy is one of a series of books on interesting aspects of nature. Sylvia Long’s illustrations are richly detailed and show the beauty and variety of the seeds that house strange flowers and plants from all around the world. This book is a beautiful reminder that though they don’t seem to be doing much right now, there are sleepy seeds laboring all around us right now.

The Complete Book of Flower Fairies, by Cicely Mary Barker

The Complete Book of Flower Fairies, by Cicely Mary Barker | Little Book, Big Story

These poems aren’t only about spring either—in fact, they go through a year’s worth of flowers—but spring means flowers and poetry to me, and these are the best flower poems I know. Cicely Mary Barker assigns each flower a corresponding fairy, then writes about that fairy’s quirks and temperament in a way that makes the poems easy to memorize and the flowers easy to recognize in the wild. Some of the newer collections of Flower Fairies add gimmicks like stories and crafts, but this one is just the poems, arranged by season, and Barker’s classic illustrations.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett | Little Book, Big Story

Lydia and I are reading this one together right now, and the image of those little green shoots peeping through the tangle of forgotten rose vines is enough to make my spring-hungry heart happy. A beautiful classic, and one that deserves its own post here on the blog.

A Child’s Calendar, by John Updike

A Child's Calendar, by John Updike | Little Book, Big Story

Okay, so this book isn’t only about spring either, but it does fit spring within its context and I love that. John Updike wrote a poem for every month of the year, and Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations follow one family through all four seasons, poem by poem. It’s a wonderful book, and the poem “April” contains one of my favorite lines about spring anywhere: “The blushing, girlish world unfolds.” If that doesn’t describe spring, what does?

The Reason for a Flower, by Ruth Heller

Once at a Young Author’s Conference, I heard Ruth Heller speak about illustrating children’s books. I liked her then, but I love her now—her detailed drawings and unexpected rhymes are just what subjects like grammar and botany need.

Anything by LM Montgomery

LM Montgomery | Little Book, Big Story

LM Montgomery’s books are worth reading at any time of the year. But there’s something about spring that makes me want to read and re-read her work, preferably on the front porch, where I can smell freshly tilled garden plots and see as many flowers as possible. (Read more about LM Montgomery.)

And A Bonus ONe, Just for You:

Humble Roots, by Hannah Anderson

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes the Soul, by Hannah Anderson | Little Book, Big Story

Imagine that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle had been written by Elisabeth Elliot, and you’ll have some idea what to expect from this book. But even so Humble Roots will probably surprise you. Hannah Anderson mediates on the topic of humility, weaving in stories from her life in rural Virginia as well as a vignette about a different flower or plant for each chapter. This is already one of the best books I’ve read this year.


An Aside

Have you had a chance to check out the new Book List? You can find it here, or you can learn more about it in this post.


What about you? What Books do you love reading in the first days of spring?

The Book List is here!

It took weeks of formatting and lots of chocolate, but I did it! I compiled a book list for you! And I’m so thankful to those of you who asked for a list like this—I may not have done it otherwise, and I’m so very glad I did.

So. What is it?

An exhaustive (that is, very long) list of true and beautiful books, compiled by the blogger behind Little Book, Big Story.

The Book List is a curated list of my very favorite books. Most of the books on it have been featured on the blog, but some haven’t yet. They’re all books that our family has loved—the ones I’m quick to recommend to friends and give as gifts—and they’re organized by category and linked to the original review wherever possible. You can view the full, prettily formatted and linked version here. You can find that any time by looking at the header of this page (see it up there, next to the “About” page? It’s there for you whenever you need it).

But there’s also a printable version that has all of the same titles in a condensed format, so you can print it out and take it with you to the library. You can find that one here. (It’s also linked to on the Book List page, so you can find it again there.)

Ten of My Favorite Adventure Stories | Little Book, Big Story

Now, I said “curated” and “condensed.” But I did not say “brief”: this is a long list. Even when I tried to rein myself in and list only favorites, I still ended up with page after page of recommendations. I hope you enjoy browsing through the finished list and that you find some new favorites for your family!

Footnote

If you do want to look through a complete list of every book that has ever appeared on this blog, you can find them all in the Bookshop—I update that regularly, and it works as a sort of visual display of the entire Little Book, Big Story catalog.

A Second Footnote

If you come across any links that don’t go where they ought to, would you please let me know so I can fix them?

Beyond the Ballgown: 9 Unusual Books About Princesses

When a friend asked for advice about raising daughters (he and his wife were expecting their first), all I came up with was, “Expect to find baby dolls in strange places. And there will be glitter all over your house, but you won’t know where it came from.” In retrospect, I’d like to add: “People will buy you princess things—so many princess things. Even when they know that you don’t want princess things in your house.”

Also, I’d probably say something about daughters being a gift from the Lord, and it being such a joy to raise them. And so on.

I’ve written before about our family’s approach to princesses, and have meant, for a good long time, to revisit that topic with a list of the books that our girls have fallen in love with—books that do a little, at least, to combat the pull of the Disney franchise by portraying princesses and queens in a courageous, wise, and truly beautiful (not weirdly-animated beautiful) light.

9 Unusual Books About Princesses | Little Book, Big Story

Some of these leading ladies aren’t technically princesses, but you’ll find queens in the mix and ladies and little girls who display beautifully what true princess-ness means. Here are some unusual books about princesses:

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis | Little Book, Big Story

Every good book list ought to open with these books, I think. And any list of books about strong leading ladies who are loving, empathetic and brave ought to open with Lucy Pevensie. (Read the full review.)

THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN, by George MacDonald

The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald | Little Book, Big Story

This book is old and wonderful: the story of Princess Irene, the miner Curdie, and Irene’s great-great-grandmother gives a great illustration of what it looks like to be a princess during the good times and the bad, in safety and in danger. (Read the full review.)

THE ORDINARY PRINCESS, by M.M. Kaye

The Ordinary Princess, by MM Kaye | Little Book, Big Story

When a cantankerous fairy bestows not the gift of grace, beauty or charm on the infant princess Amethyst, but instead gives her the gift of ordinariness, the story of Princess Amy, thoroughly ordinary in every way, begins. This book takes a good look at what makes us truly beautiful and how to recognize those that appreciate those qualities. (Read the full review.)

THE STORY OF ESTHER, by Eric Kimmel

The Story of Esther | Little Book, Big Story

What better picture of royal courage can we pull from Scripture than that of Esther? Though married to King Artaxerxes against her will, Queen Esther serves the Lord where she is placed and through her obedience, saves his people. She’s beautiful, faithful, and brave! (Read the full review.)

I’D BE YOUR PRINCESS, by Kathryn O’Brien

I'd Be Your Princess | Little Book, Big Story

This sweet picture book follows the conversation between a father and a daughter as she imagines what it would be like if he was a king and she was a princess. Her father ties her vision gently back to Scripture and encourages his daughter to cultivate the qualities that Scripture emphasizes. (Read the full review.)

A LITTLE PRINCESS, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett | Little Book, Big Story

Though not a literal princess, Sara Crewe lives like one: pampered by her beloved papa and treated as royalty by the headmistress of her boarding school, she enjoys life’s luxuries—until a plot twist takes them all (every last one) away. But she determines to go on living like a princess in all the right ways all the same. (Read the full review.)

THE PRINCESS AND THE KISSby Jennie Bishop

The Princess and the Kiss, by Jennie Bishop | Little Book, Big Story

Jennie Bishop’s fable about a princess who is given a gift at birth meant only for the man she marries gives a lovely picture for young girls of marriage and purity—even answering gently, at one point, the question, “What if he isn’t out there for me?” This is a book that I appreciate for the way it helps shape our daughters’ views on marriage and sexuality while telling a story about a royal family who knows what to truly value.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, by Roger Lancelyn Green

The Adventures of Robin Hood | Little Book, Big Story

Okay, Maid Marian isn’t technically a princess, but she does rub elbows with royalty, wear lovely gowns (sometimes, at least), and marry her true love at the (almost) end of the story. But she’s also fearless and loyal, willing to stand her ground against injustice and to fight for good alongside her fiance. There are many retellings of Robin Hood’s adventures, but Maid Marian’s character in this one makes it my favorite. (Read the full review.)

THE KING’S EQUAL, by Katherine Paterson

The King's Equal | Little Book, Big Story

Katherine Paterson, author of The Bridge to Terebithia and many, many other books, puts a beautiful twist on those stories that marry off princesses as prizes for killing dragons and so on. When the king dies, he leaves his kingdom to his proud and quite unlikeable son on the stipulation that he finds a wife that is truly his equal. The search for such a woman leads to lovely and unexpected results—and no one is more surprised by them than the prince. (Read the full review.)

What are your favorite books about princesses?

5 Poetry Books That Our Family Loves

I missed National Poetry Month by a solid month with this post, but you seem like a forgiving bunch, and one who doesn’t mind reading about poetry out of season, right? Of course, there is no “out of season” for poetry, really. It’s perfect for reading in the spring, when garden beds and sunsets seem to speak in verse, and for reading on sunny summer afternoons—preferably on a picnic blanket in a backyard, perhaps with chickens clucking nearby and bees weaving in and out of the flower stalks. Poetry is just right for fall, too, when the rain hits the windows with its own poetic rhythm, and for winter, when the warmth of fleece blankets and black tea are worth a stanza or two alone.

Over the years, our family has collected a number of poetry books, perfect for all seasons. We don’t read from them as often as any of us would like, but we have a few collections that get pulled off the shelf, passed around and read aloud more often than any of our other poetry books. Some are old—very old—and some are new. But all of them are lovely and worth sharing over lunchtime quesadillas or steaming cups of tea.

5 Poetry Books That Our Family Loves | Little Book, Big Story

A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES, by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child's Garden of Verses | Little Book, Big Story

Andrew Pudewa once described this as “A Girl’s Garden of Verses,” but of course, that doesn’t trouble our family one bit. These poems have been among our most-read, much-beloved, highly-dogeared favorites for years. (Read the full review.)

A CHILD’S CALENDAR, by John Updike

A Child's Calendar, by John Updike | Little Book, Big Story

John Updike takes us through the months of the year with twelve lovely poems. Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations put those poems in the context of one family that you can’t help loving by the end of the book.

A Child's Calendar, by John Updike | Little Book, Big Story

ANYTHING BY A.A. MILNE

The Poetry of AA Milne | Little Book, Big Story

Just the rhythm of Milne’s poetry is addicting. He gives snippets of it in Winnie-the-Pooh, but his volumes of poetry are so much fun to read. We’re not always sure what happening, but we always love the language.

ALL THE SMALL POEMS AND FOURTEEN MORE, by Valerie Worth

All the Small Poems, by Valerie Worth | Little Book, Big Story

These poems are lovely—beautiful and accessible and about the most ordinary things. (Read the full review.)

THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF POETRYEd. Louis Untermeyer

The Golden Book of Poetry | Little Book, Big Story

I found this behemoth in an antique store and purchased it on a whim. When we did sit down with it, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it contained everything from silly rhymes to giant narrative poems of the old school. Our favorites have to do (rather predictably) with Robin Hood. We read them dramatically—with flair. Over and over again.

Which poetry books have won hearts in your house? I’d love to hear some of your favorites.

It’s a girl!!

When reviewing our ultrasound results yesterday, my doctor asked, “Do we know yet if it’s a boy or a girl?”

“A fourth girl!” I said, beaming.

He smiled, thought for a moment, and asked, “Have you ever read The Penderwicks?”

A medical degree is important and everything, but what I really look for in a doctor is the willingness to discuss literature in the exam room.

A baby blanket in the making | Little Book, Big Story

I’ve compared our family before to the Marches and—best of all—the Ingalls, and now I can add the Penderwicks to the list (I do hope this daughter is just a little bit like Batty). One more, and we’ll be the Bennetts!

Sarah has changed her name vote from “Robin Hood” to “Maid Marian,” Lydia has already mentioned “Mary . . . or maybe Laura,” and Phoebe has taken to marching around with the ultrasound photo, chanting “Bebe! Bebe!” Mitch has been to the bank to see about expanding our wee little home, and I have cast on a handful of stitches for a lovely and feminine baby blanket.

To celebrate, I’ll dig up a favorite post: “Ten Chapter Books to Read Aloud With Your Daughter.” That particular branch of our library is about to get stronger and richer:

10 Chapter Books to Read Aloud With Your Daughter | Little Book, Big Story

4 Cookbooks That Feed Your Family In More Way Than One

Cookbooks aren’t the standard fare of this blog, I know. But these all have something extra, something that makes them fun to read and that feeds your family more than just food. They contain fuel for dinner table discussions, incentive to take time out with your spouse or to invite your kids into the kitchen as you cook.

4 Cookbooks That Feed Your Family In More Ways Than One | Little Book, Big Story

My copies of these four books are heavily annotated and dog-eared beyond the point of respectability. And, really, that is the best endorsement I can give any cookbook.

The Family Dinner, by Laurie David and Kristin Uhrenholdt

The Family Dinner, by Laurie David | Little Book, Big Story

Some books travel through circles of friends, like parenting books or North and South. I encountered The Family Dinner while standing at my friend Jessie’s kitchen island, flipping through it while she chopped peppers for dinner, and resolved to buy my own copy as soon as I got home. I have since passed my copy to friends as we chat over cutting boards and cold beer in my kitchen and have seen it spring up on their own shelves later.

Vietnamese Noodle Soup (from The Family Dinner) | Little Book, Big Story

This book is part cookbook, part treatise on the whys and hows of the family dinner. Laurie David is passionate about encouraging families to come back to the table and, to that end, includes everything from celebrity interviews on the importance of family dinner to tips on decorating a table, growing your own food, and cooking with kids. Two whole chapters at the back are filled with ideas for starting after-supper conversations and approaching meals with gratitude.

And then, there are Kristin Uhrenholdt’s recipes. I have come awfully close to cooking my way through this book multiple times, and I have yet to find a recipe that I didn’t like. There was one I made the night I felt queasy—I’m reluctant to revisit that one. But the recipes here get a lot of flavor from a few simple ingredients and run the spectrum from comfort food to fresh, inventive, healthy food. I miss beef when I cook from this book too regularly, but that’s an okay problem to have.

Peanutty Noodles (from The Family Dinner) | Little Book, Big Story

Favorite recipes:
Vietnamese Soup in a Teapot (p. 73)
Moroccan Chicken Tagine (p. 87)
Greek Meatballs (p. 98)
When You Need Chocolate Pudding Fast (p. 213)

Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez

Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez | Little Book, Big Story

Ashley and I were, for a time, members of the same church. She had a baby, I did not (was there ever a time when I did not?), and I loved spending time with her in her sunny kitchen, learning to butter papery folds of phyllo while making covert mental notes on how to care for both phyllo and babies. I don’t remember just how it happened, but eventually I ended up working with her as a sort of apprentice/minion in her dessert catering business. From her learned how to make a pristine meringue, a sunny lemon curd, and a life-changing chocolate chip cookie. (I never mastered the lemon curd; I still make the cookies almost weekly.)

I also learned that a broken salted caramel macaroon is a good thing for the minion, because she gets to eat it.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies | Little Book, Big Story

I tell you this because you should know that I have a definite bias toward this book. But you shouldn’t let it color the way you read the rest of this sentence: this cookbook is one of my top two cookbooks (the other one is listed above). I bought the book because I know Ashley and I know Ashley’s food and I would gladly pay $20 to have a little more of either Ashley’s company or her food, but I love Date Night In because I have cooked my way through over half of the recipes and have yet to find a dud. I have found, instead, a pulled pork recipe that has taken precedence over all other pulled pork recipes. I have found the inspiration to make my own hamburger buns, my own pickled peppers, my own cream soda. I have found a recipe for brownies that I can only look at on days when I feel prepared to eat half a pan of them by myself.

Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez | Little Book, Big Story

The book is a collection of menus based on Ashley’s weekly at-home dates with her husband, Gabe. They feature drinks, appetizers, entrees, salads, and desserts, and while they’re a little fancier than our usual mid-week fare, they’re easily adapted to suit tighter schedules, smaller budgets, and larger families. In their full form, they’re perfect for special occasions—like dates with my husband.

So many of these recipes have become staples in our home that choosing between them was painful. But here is the shortest list of favorites I came up with (of course, every other recipe mentioned in this post qualifies, too). They may not sound fancy, but they taste fancy. And that is enough:

Favorite recipes:
Olive oil pizza dough (p. 14)
Rhubarb Sour (p. 27)
Creamy Shallot Vinaigrette (p. 28)
Our Perfect Burger with Special Sauce (p. 154)
Baked Beans (p. 224)
Chocolat Chaud (p. 274)

The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson

The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson | Little Book, Big Story

When you buy a new cookbook, you don’t expect your six-year-old to run off with it before you can read it and return the book two hours later, having read it from cover to cover. But that is what happened when I bought The Forest Feast, and given the beautiful illustrations and my daughter’s affection for food I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The emphasis of The Forest Feast is on entertaining, so the recipes are quick to put together and simple—few have more than five ingredients. They’re vegetarian, but easy to corrupt with a little prosciutto or sausage, and they’re great fare for birthday parties, quick dinners, and potlucks.

But here is what I love best about this book: because of the beautiful format and simple instructions, this has become a favorite for Lydia and me to use together. When planning parties, I can hand it to her and say, “Pick out five things you’d like to make. They can’t be too expensive or too time-consuming to make, and we can’t use forks to eat them. Go!” It’s like a scavenger hunt, except she’s learning party-planning life lessons like “More than one kind of cheese makes a recipe expensive,” or “Mom will only cut so many leeks.” And we get to eat the reward.

The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson | Little Book, Big Story

After she’s chosen, more often than not, there’s at least one recipe that she can tackle alone, like dipped strawberries or apricot bites. And she often pushes me to try something just a little fancier than I might have otherwise, because her beautifully child-like lack of foresight is good for my tendency to overthink things.

And the book’s design? Beautiful. Stunning. So pretty it merits a few extra pictures.

The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson | Little Book, Big Story The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson | Little Book, Big Story

Now you know why Lydia absconded with it.

Favorite recipes:
Gorgonzola grapes (p. 42)
Eggplant Brie “Tacos” (p. 158)
Quinoa Pecan Frittata Muffins (p. 178)
Rosemary shortbread (p. 202)

The Silver Spoon for Children

The Silver Spoon for Children (a cookbook) | Little Book, Big Story

We have a few cookbooks made just for kids. They’re fun and the recipes in them aren’t terrible, but they lack some quality that The Silver Spoon For Children has in spades. Besides the charmingly illustrated recipes, this book has a clear intent to teach kids to cook—to savor food, to prepare it well, and to know their way around a kitchen. None of the recipes here are intended to make food shaped like animals; not a single one calls for sprinkles. But there is a recipe for homemade pasta, and there is one for chicken breasts stuffed with mascarpone.

The Silver Spoon for Children (a cookbook) | Little Book, Big Story

Perhaps I’ve made The Silver Spoon For Children sound like a serious tome meant to turn kids into somber creatures, dithering between this spice and that one. It’s not. The illustrations bring a bit of wit and playfulness to each recipe, and the visual layout makes it fun to work through with kids. Many of the recipes are still too advanced for my young chefs, but I love asking them to pick a recipe for the week’s menu (consequently, the book falls open at the recipe for macaroni and cheese) and call out the recipe’s steps while I make it.

The Silver Spoon for Children | Little Book, Big Story

Favorite recipes:
Polenta Gnocchi (p. 64)
Beans with Sausages (p. 68)
Chicken Stew with Olives (p. 74)
Fruits of the Forest Ice Cream (p. 98)

What about you? Which cookbooks do you rely on?