Rice and beans is a staple around the world. I grew up in a house where pasta and potatoes were our traditional basics, but I later fell in love with the variety and simplicity of this combo.
Being the book obsessed person I am, this bonus Multicultural Children’s Book Day story time combines this yummy foodish combo with children’s books for a delicious story time. So grab your spoons and let’s jump in!
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Rice & Beans Story Time
This story time started with Jamaican rice and beans, inspired by the book Rice and Rocks that I was given a copy of to review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. The book looks at how rice and beans is eaten around the world and that made me hungry but also interested to dive into rice and beans in a literary way.
Books to Read Aloud
Rice & Rocks by Sandra L. Richards
Giovanni loves Sundays but this Sunday his friends are joining his family for dinner and he’s worried what they will think about his grandma’s Jamaican rice and beans. His auntie, a magic bird, and a flight around the world show him that rice and beans aren’t that uncommon after all. I love how this book focuses not on what makes us different, but on the things that are similar across cultures. It also made me really want some Jamaican rice and beans!
Rice is Life by Rita Golden Gelman
Where does all that rice come from? This collection of poems is set in Bali and shows how life there revolves around rice from planting to harvesting. For a story time I would recommend picking one or two poems to read aloud to share a little of this unique perspective on rice. Cycle of Rice is another option. It is full of beautiful photographs of Bali rice farms.
Mama Provi and the Pot of Rice by Sylvia Rosa-Casanova
When a little girl in her building gets sick, Mama Provi makes a pot of rice and brings it up to her. Along the way she trades some neighbors for other food and arrives with a feast in hand. This book reminds me a bit of Chik Chat Shabbat (a must read if you haven’t already!) and is full of charm and a warm sense of community. Be careful ordering on Amazon though if you go that route because some editions are not as well crafted!
Sing a Song about Rice
- Chicken Soup & Rice by Carol King, based on the book by Maurice Sendak
Group Activity: Let’s Make Rice & Beans
My kids love helping me cook. This activity is stove free so it can be done anywhere you have a table and an outlet. Cooking rice does take about 30 minutes so if you don’t have time for them to help you, just tasting rice and beans is also an option.
- Rice Cooker
- Jamaican Rice
- Measuring Cup
- Wooden spoon
- Small Bowls (one per kid)
- Spoons (one per kid)
Basic Rice and Beans Directions:
Before story time, start your beans soaking. Read the directions on your bag and follow for best results.
After story time invite the kids to help cook rice and beans in your rice cooker. Add the rice to the cooker. Again read the direction for your specific rice and cooker, but in our case the rice needed to cook for about 3 minutes before we added the beans.
When it is time, stir the rice and then add the beans to the cooker.
Then set a timer for the remainder of rice cooking time.
More Rice and Beans Recipes:
I went SUPER basic because we are in the middle of moving and I need my life to be as simple as possible right now because cooking overwhelms me on the best of days. However, here are some more fun Rice and Beans recipes that I am planning to try when we are moved, settled, and ready to be adventurous.
- Caribbean Rice and Beans: still sounds simple and definitely yummy.
- Real Jamaican Rice and Beans: sounds easy and was described as creamy.
- Slow Cooker Rice and Beans: I love my slow cooker and this one looks so colorful!
Time to Eat:
When the rice is done it is time to eat! Have one kid pass out a bowl to everyone and one kid pass out a spoon to everyone.
Scoop a small serving into each bowl and encourage them to give it a try.
If this is your first time tasting food together you may want to start with discussing appropriate comments to share. My kids are encouraged to share honest comments but not hurtful ones. For example, thoughts like “This is gross!!” are not helpful, but they can say things like “This is very different than my usual rice.”
More Books about Jamaica
Rice & Rocks is a good book about Jamaican immigrant culture. If you want to learn or read more about Jamaica here are some great books:
J is for Jamaica by Benjamin Zephaniah
Rhyming verses and an alphabet format make this is a fun overview of Jamaican culture. It is a good starting place to learn a little and see what questions or parts of Jamaican culture you want to dive into deeper.
The Tangerine Tree by Regina Hanson
A little girl has to say goodbye to her daddy who is going to work in America. While he’s gone she is to care for the Tangerine Tree. Written based on their author’s experiences this one is full of heart.
**Comment below if you have a yummy recipe or great book to add to this list!