Reading is reading is reading and on World Pasta Day we thought we’d take the opportunity to share one type of book that often gets neglected when reading with children, the humble recipe book.

The reality is that not all children get excited by magical lands and fantasy adventures and while you might be keen for them to reach for a novel, you simply can’t force somebody to read for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is reading because you choose to and it’s certainly not limited to fiction.

In fact, the more widely a child is encouraged to read, the greater the chance they will find something they enjoy, and so begin to value reading. Lots of children get switched off from reading when they find it hard and they don’t see what it adds to their life.

Seeing the value of reading for themselves is a sure-fire way to spark a child’s intrinsic motivation to read – the desire they have to do something because they want to and not because they’re told to.

 

Ready, steady, read (and cook)!

Reading a recipe from a book and following the steps to make a meal is a very purposeful use of reading. Recipes rely on you being able to read them to work; you follow the instructions in sequence, you interpret their meaning and understand the language – if you can’t do these things you can’t make that pasta sauce.

Recipe books are full of photos and the writing is generally in short bursts which helps children, who get overwhelmed by lots of text, feel that it’s doable.

The opportunities to learn new vocab are plentiful – you dice the vegetables, simmer the pasta, dollop the cream. You add a dash of vinegar, a pinch of pepper, a sprig of parsley. And you learn the meanings in absolute context by dicing, simmering and dolloping, adding dashes, pinches and sprigs. It’s a real hands-on approach to reading.

You compare the picture at the end to see if what you made resembles the image in the book (and you laugh together when it doesn’t!). You perhaps generate an interest in nutrition, famous chefs, countries and cultures and lead the way into other books. Or perhaps you don’t. Either way, the reading was interactive, purposeful and fun. Job done! Yummy!