It’s mid-December at the time of this writing, and we’ve already had our first snow day. Like usual, while the schools were closed, we at the public library were still open, leading to many a bored teenager, hyper kid, and frazzled parent to brave the weather for some diversion. Often, these seekers of entertainment were not just looking for something to do right then and there, but for ideas for the next snow day, the big one (the real one), where everyone would be stuck inside and forced to make their own fun. Here are some interesting cooking and craft books to recommend to tweens and teens who want to perfect a skill, learn something new, or make something together with their family. Think of this list as a Pinterest alternative.
The Green Teen Cookbook, edited by Laurane Marchive & Pam McElroy.
Winter is a perfect time to learn how to cook, especially when you’re stuck inside and hungry. This cookbook has the added benefit of being written by teens and focusing on healthy, sustainable food.
Treat Yourself: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats, by Jessica Siskin.
For those whose idea of comfort food doesn’t include greens, recommend this cookbook. Sticky rice treats are easy to do in fun colors and shapes and make a great family project.
Zentangle Basics, by Suzanne McNeill.
This incredibly slim volume perpetually gets overlooked on shelves, making it a great one to pull out during a time of need. It provides a bare bones overview of Zentangle drawing, then shows how to do several sample tangles.
Kawaii Doodle Class: Sketching Super-Cute Tacos, Sushi, Clouds, Flowers, Monsters, Cosmetics, and More , by Zainab Khan.
This is my favorite how-to-draw book for the teen (also myself) who just wants cute things, is into Japanese culture, or is maybe interested in bullet journaling. The 75+ drawings in this book are simple to draw and have adorable faces.
Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects, by Sophie Maletsky.
Lots of teens have learned how to make a duct tape wallet, but how about a whole locker organizer, a messenger bag, a tablet case, or some jewelry? This book is excellent because not only does it have great projects, it has a section covering basic and advanced duct taping skills that they can bring to their own designs.
Rock Art: Painting and Crafting with the Humble Pebble, by Denise Scicluna.
Rock art is a popular way to pass along uplifting messages and community art, and this book goes over materials (including how to pick good rocks) and then outlines how to do several different patterns and drawings.
Scissors, Paper, Craft: 30 Pretty Projects All Cut, Folded, and Crafted From Paper, by Christine Leech.
For the teen who can’t get enough origami, here are some other amazing projects to do with paper, from pop-up cards, unique gift bows, mobiles, garlands, and fun decor for their room. Some are very fiddly and intricate. Patterns are included.
Stitch Camp; 18 Crafty Projects for Kids & Tweens, by Nicole Blum and Catherine Newman.
This incredible book (I’m using it to teach myself – no judgement) teaches the basics of six skills: sewing, knitting, crocheting, felting, embroidering, and weaving. Yet it’s project-based, so tweens and teens can learn by doing. The projects have written instructions and photo tutorials and have a good mix that will appeal to boys and girls, from weaving a keychain to altering a t-shirts to making a monster coin purse out of felt.
Be the Change: 16+ Creative Projects for Civic and Community Action, by Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle.
For tweens and teens interested in activism, but not sure how to make their voices heard, here’s a thoughtful guide to taking an issue (such as protecting the environment or advocating for the homeless) from “inspiration to inspired action” with creative projects. It has several craft projects, such as donation jars, message t-shirts, tote bags, buttons and mugs, and poster designs, but it also covers other ways to make changes through civic and community action. It’s both a creative guide and a nice introduction to becoming involved in the larger community, whether that is a neighborhood, school, city, or government.
–Krista Hutley, currently reading Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
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