If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, perhaps the road to a child's love of reading is the same.
This summer, you can use a little culinary ingenuity to encourage your school-age children to devour some good literature.
It takes only a few drops of food coloring to reproduce Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham." King Midas's royal grape juice is easy, as are Homer Price's doughnuts.
Fruit and cookies abound in the stories of Amelia Bedelia and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and even bread and butter will look more interesting if it accompanies the description of churning in Dorothy Canfield Fisher's "Understood Betsy."
"Children are so imaginative and impressionable, that the things they read at a young age often stay with them all their lives and provide warm memories of reading and home," says Fairfax City Children's librarian Ilze Long.
Preschool director Judy Johnston remembers the picture book "Blueberries for Sal" when she sprinkles fruit on her cornflakes.
Munching cheese evokes childhood memories of the book "Heidi" for psychologist Sally Horwatt.
Sandy Ricks, an administrative assistant thinks of Winnie the Pooh when she fixes bread and honey.
Susan Davies, who lived in Germany as a child, is reminded of the story of Hansel and Gretel when she sees a gingerbread house.
When administrative aide Patti Fox drinks lemonade, she remembers the "Little House" series.
Fairfax County teacher and inveterate reader Laura Hill says there are two items of food she read about as a child and has wanted to taste all her life: the syllabub in "Anne of Green Gables" and the pickled limes that got Amy March in so much trouble in "Little Women."
"When my husband and I went to Poland in the 1970s, I got to taste a frothy, light, lemony dish they called syllabub," she says, "so one of my wishes was granted."
She envisions the pickled limes in Louisa May Alcott's 19th-century novel as tiny pickles. (I always saw them as hard, green, lime-flavored candy.)
Food in literature can become part of family traditions.
In the 1950s my brothers and I, like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, used to eat bread and milk, saturated with sugar and berries, for Sunday-night supper -- Mom's night off after fixing a midday dinner. We got into the habit of reading about Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, Benjamin Bunny and Hunca Munca afterward.
I tried that once with my kids.
"Bleah," complained one child. "Too soggy."
(We still read Beatrix Potter, but we substitute Cheerios or Rice Krispies for the bread.)
One rainy day this past spring, my daughter and her friends and I held a Mad-Hatter's tea party during which I read to them from "Alice in Wonderland."
"It's different from the movie," exclaimed one tot. "And this 'tea' tastes like Sprite."
But afterward, they wanted to read more of the Lewis Carroll classic.
Here are books that combine children's stories and food. Suggestions are from librarians in Fairfax and Montgomery counties and the D.C. Library System:
Preschool "Gregory, the Terrible Eater," by Mitchell Sharmat.
"Pancakes, Pancakes," by Eric Carle.
"Green Eggs and Ham," by Dr. Seuss.
"The Giant Jam Sandwich," by John Vernon Lord.
"The Popcorn Book," by Tomie DePaola.
"The Carrot Seed," by Ruth Krauss.
"Ice Creams for Rosie," by Andre Deutsch.
"Mud Pies," by Judith Grey.
"Jamberry," by Bruce Degen.
"The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash," by Trina Hakes Nobel.
"The Great Giant Watermelon Birthday," by Vera B. Williams.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," by Judi Barrett.
"Stone Soup," by Marcia Brown.
"Strega Nona," by Tomie DePaola.
"Babar Learns to Cook," by Laurent de Brunhoff.
"Blueberries for Sal," by Robert McCloskey.
K-Third Grade "We Hate Rain," by James Stevenson.
"Frank and Ernest," by Alex Day.
"Toad Food and Measle Soup," by Christine McDonnell.
"How to Eat Fried Worms," by Christine McDonnell.
"Ice Cream Soup," by Frank Modell.
"Dinner at Alberta's," by Russell Hoban.
"No Bean Sprouts Please," by Constance Hiser.
"Aldo Applesauce" and "Aldo Ice Cream," by Johanna Hurwitz.
"Chocolate Fever," by Robert Kimmel Smith.
"The House at Pooh Corner," by A.A. Milne.
"A Chocolate Moose for Dinner," by Fred Gwynne.
"Freckle Juice," by Judy Blume.
"George's Marvelous Medicine," by Roald Dahl.
"The New Kid on the Block," by Jack Prelutsky.
"Tickle a Pickle," by Ann Turner.
"Wombat Stew," by Marcia K. Vaughn.
"Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic," by Betty MacDonald.
"The Boxcar Children," by Getrude Chandler Warner.
Upper Elementary "Little House in the Big Woods," by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
"Heidi," by Johnna Spyri.
"Little Women," by Louisa May Alcott.
"The Phantom Tollbooth," by Norton Juster.
"Pippi Longstocking," by Astrid Lindgren.
"Miracle on Maple Hill," by Virginia Sorenson.
"Sugar Isn't Everything," by Willo Davis Roberts.
"Ramona," by Beverly Cleary.
"Homer Price," by Robert McCloskey.
"The Borrowers," by Mary Norton.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," by Roald Dahl.
"Mary Poppins," by P.L. Travers.
"Anne of Green Gables," by L.M. Montgomery.
"The Five Little Peppers," by Margaret Sidney.
Middle School "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell.
"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," by Mildred Taylor.
"Cheaper by the Dozen," by Ernestine Carey and Frank Gilbreth.
"Goodbye Mr. Chips," by William P. Kenney.
"Beauty," by Robin McKinley.
"The House of Stairs," by William Slater.
"The Pistachio Prescription," by Paula Danziger.