World Book Day brings on nostalgia with our top childhood cookbooks

April 23, 2023 (Last Updated: April 20, 2023)

World Book and Copyright Day is all about celebrating reading and encouraging the enjoyment of books across the world.

This year, we couldn’t help but look back at some of our favourite childhood cookbooks that encouraged our own love of books (and cooking).

We chatted to the team and put together some of our nostalgic picks.


The Cape Malay Cookbook by Faldelah Williams

“I grew up with and still use The Cape Malay Cookbook. I stole my copy from my mom 😇 ” – Megan Paulse, Group Editor

Photo: Megan Paulse

The Cape Malay Cookbook shares easy recipes paired with illustrations that highlight authentic Cape Malay food. You’ll find failproof tips and a helpful guide all about using spices and seasonings to get you cooking up a storm.

Megan’s honourable mentions:

  • The Royal Hostess
  • Recipes from The Royal Kitchen

Photo: Megan Paulse


The Bo-Kaap Kitchen by Craig Fraser

“I found my mother in law’s old beat up copy in my husband old flat and recently discovered it was technically pinched from the library more than 30 years ago. My fav is not old but based on my mixed family history and reads wonderfully. It’s called the Bo-Kaap Kitchen and supports the District6 Museum (my Dads hood).” – Stephanie Titus, Garden&Home Editor

Image credit: Quiver Tree Publications

Bo-Kaap Kitchen is more than just your ordinary cookbook. Among the recipes, you’ll find personal stories and photographs that capture the rich history of the Bo-Kaap. Take a sneak peek inside here.

Image credit: Quiver Tree Publications


Huisgenoot Wenresepte

“Every household I visited growing up (and my own) had some version of these Wenrespte books. My mom’s copy is all tattered and old, but she still makes the best pancakes from a recipe in this book. The proper ones rolled up with cinnamon, sugar, butter and a tiny bit of lemon juice.” – Savanna Douglas, Woman&Home Digital Content Producer

Left to right image credits: Theron Books, Kookkuns, Kookkuns

These cookbook collections contain hundreds of classic South African recipes that encapsulate cooking and baking in the 80s and beyond. Did you have any on your cookbook shelf at home?


Kids’ Step-by-Step Cookbook

“It’s hard to narrow it down to only one as there were three cookbooks I had on standby throughout my childhood – whether it was to actually make something or dream of making them one day.” – Sandy Norman, Food&Home Lead Copywriter

Photo: Sandy Norman

Kids’ Step-by-Step Cookbook by Lorraine van Vledder with detailed illustrations by Walter Pichler is the ideal introduction to cooking – if you were a 90’s kid at least. Bright illustrations, dated photography you can’t help but love, and the right amount of sugar and sweets.

Sandy’s honourable mentions:

  • Children’s Birthday Cake Book by The Australian Women’s Weekly (No birthday was complete without one of these 80’s inspired birthday cakes.)
  • Kids’ Cookbook Fun Step-by-Step Recipes by Mary Pat Fergus (My introduction to my lazy go-to: pizza toast.)

Photo: Sandy Norman

What are your favourite cookbooks from years past? Let us know @foodandhomesa using #CookingWithFH on Instagram.

ALSO SEE: Top-shelf cookbooks you need to add to your kitchen artillery

Top-shelf cookbooks you need to add to your kitchen artillery

Feature image: Dejan_Dundjerski via Getty Images

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