I love to watch Lidia Bastianich cook. She makes it look effortless, as if she was born with all that knowledge and skill she has in the kitchen. She may not have been born with it, but she learned it all at an early age in her grandmother’s kitchen in Italy. I heard her on the radio this morning, talking about gathering eggs from the chickens and her other responsibilities as a child growing up in Italy. Lidia's mother was a teacher, and she spent much of her young life with her Nonna.

She’s now a Nonna herself and has written “Nonna Tell Me a Story” to tell her own grandchildren about her childhood Christmases in Italy. Growing up she didn’t have a lot, but she loved decorating their family’s version of a Christmas tree with edible ornaments — mostly cookies and fruit. The book teaches children about a Christmas experience that is probably very different from the experience they are used to.

The book also includes 16 recipes for all of the foods mentioned in the story, so children who are inspired to cook or bake can share this book with their parents and grandparents while they work together in the kitchen.

For children around the ages 4-8, or for their grandmother’s who like to read them, I think this would make a perfect Christmas gift. Even for children who don’t like to help out in the kitchen, the story is well told and the implied message in the story — that a simple Christmas can be a joyous Christmas — is one that all children (and adults) need to hear.

"Nonna Tell Me a Story" has also been turned into an animated Christmas special and will air on PBS throughout the month of December. Check your local PBS listing to learn when it will air in your region. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Holiday gifts: Lidia Bastianich’s 'Nonna Tell Me a Story'
For kids who love to cook, this book about Christmas in Italy will enchant and inspire.