When my students enter our classroom on the first day of the nutrition unit, they immediately see two tables covered in cookbooks. Lots and lots of cookbooks.
We usually start class with a conversation starter. My students sit in groups of three, and their triangle desks are arranged in three-leaf clover shapes. You can often find me standing where the stem of the clovers would be, listening to my students, cracking jokes, and checking in on their learning.
Today’s conversation starter gives students the opportunity to choose what they want to share. Students chat about What do you love to eat一snacks, meals, traditions? and Tell us about one of your favorite food memories.
I spend about three weeks prior to this lesson getting my cookbooks ready. Some belong to me, and others are borrowed from my school’s library and our county’s public library system. My choices are very intentional. My hope is that all of my students will be represented in the books and that they have the chance to discover things that are new to them.
I explain that we will spend about 25 minutes exploring cookbooks. Each student picks a question from this list to drive their thinking.
I spot kids flipping through pages, taking pictures of recipes, and reading the author’s stories. Some kids choose books that seem different and unusual to them. Others choose books that contain familiar foods. One student can’t believe there’s a book filled with foods that he eats every day. He stops to quickly buy it from Amazon as a surprise for his parents.
To close out the lesson, my students respond to their questions on a Google Form. Here is one of my favorite responses: “People write cookbooks to show us how they see the world. Food is something everyone can relate to, making it sort of a universal language.”
As health educators, we need to move away from nutrition lessons that demonize foods and instead, teach our students about things like viewing food as a source of joy and nourishment, the importance of eating together with their families, and the effect food can have on our physical, mental, and social health. Bringing cookbooks into my classroom has been the perfect place to start having these conversations with my students.
This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Sarah Gietschier-Hartman, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com
Pair this blog post with the following:
The Joy of Eating by Nadia Moya
Rethinking the Way We Talk About Nutrition, Body Size, and Health by Drew Miller
Three Foodie Books to Read in 2023 by Andy Milne
Also check out Flavor + Us: Cooking for Everyone, the latest cook book to catch my eye. Written by Top Chef Junior finalist Rahanna Bisseret Martinez this gorgeous book is filled with more than 70 recipes from around the world.
Have you read the latest Book of the Month recommendation?
2 thoughts on “Cookbooks Exploration”
Thanks for the inspiration. Would love to know what grade level you think this is appropriate for.
I know that Sarah (author of this post) teaches High school, but I can see that this could easily be adapted to middle school, and perhaps even older elementary age.