This year's Summer Reading theme encourages each of us to look beyond our own neighborhoods to experience more of the rich culture in the world. One really easy and delicious facet of world culture is food. Every culture has traditional foods that evoke the beauty and uniqueness of the people. Food is an access point to culture. It highlights something that all cultures share while it celebrates the individual beauty of each.I chose to highlight bread as one type of food that appears in nearly every culture around the world. Since it is such a universal dish you can incorporate almost any culture into your bread program. I’ve compiled some resources to get you started on a similar program, but there’s no need to limit yourself to bread, there are so many food and culture topics to choose from!
Any of these books can be used to discuss an aspect of bread and culture.
Ann Morris’ beautiful and representative Bread Bread Bread is a pictorial showing just how ubiquitous bread is in much of the world. With photographs of bread (and the people who eat it) in many cultures Morris’ book sets the stage for bread as an important symbol of culture throughout the world.Bread Bread Bread. Ann Morris, Paw Prints, 2009. Print
Tony’s Bread offers a humorous look at DePaola’s explanation of the origins of Italy’s famous fruit bread Panettone.Tony's Bread: An Italian Folktale. DePaola, Tomie, New York: Putnam, 1989. Print.
In Everybody Bakes Bread we see the traditional aspects of family cooking here in our country. Since in America we welcome so many cultures, one trip around the neighborhood in this book allows readers to see family baking traditions from around the globe.
Read about the journey from seed to loaf in Bread is for Eating. This book helps readers understand more about where their food comes from. It demystifies the origins of the plastic wrapped bread on the grocery shelf and includes a Spanish folk song in its text.
Bread Is for Eating. Gershator, David, Phillis Gershator, and Emma Shaw-Smith. New York:Holt, 1995. Print.
The tortilla factory brings the growth and harvesting of corn to life with beautiful illustrations and depicts the process creating another type of bread, the tortilla.
The Tortilla Factory. Paulsen, Gary, and Ruth W. Paulsen. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Print.
Use Bread Comes to Life or its companion film to demonstrate photographic images of bread from seed to loaf.
Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat. Levenson, George, and Shmuel Thaler. Berkeley: Tricycle Press, 2004. Print.
Sneak in Some Science
Turn a presentation about bread into a mini science and math lesson.
Bread in a bag is a classic project great for kids and adults. Depending on your situation bread in a bag kits can be prepared ahead for families, mixed in the library during the program and baked at home. Be sure to demonstrate the process of measuring ingredients like flour, yeast and water. Take the opportunity to talk about age appropriate math concepts like fractions, ratios and proportions. For even younger children focus on sizes of measuring cups or spoons. Spend the time to emphasize the fun of kneading the dough inside the bag!
Demonstrate the qualities and behavior of yeast by proofing it in a clear container. Use the bubbling yeast to help explain the science behind why bread rises.
Use wheat berries, wheat bran, and wheat germ, obtained at your local health store to discuss the nutritional value of bread, and what nutritional elements are contained in each part of the grain, and why whole grains are important in a healthy diet.
No bread and culture presentation would be complete without a chance to taste some of the amazing flavors bread can have. Try making some of your own, pay a visit to the grocery store, or contact local restaurants. Pick up a variety of breads from different cultures to demonstrate the diversity that exists.