Nothing against the Betty Crocker cookbook that inspired the small amount of cooking we attempted as a kid (which involved a lot of hot dogs as we recall), but The Silver Spoon for Children is hands down the best cookbook for young cooks we've come across.
If you're not familiar with the the adult version of The Silver Spoon it's definitely worth a look. It's the classic, best-selling "bible" of Italian cooking (think The Joy of Cooking for Italians) which, significantly, passed muster with my Italian-born father-in-law last Christmas.
The Silver Spoon for Children includes about 40 recipes from the original which have been re-written with young cooks in mind. Why do we think it's so exceptional? First, it uses language that appeals to kids and teens ("squash the garlic," "bash the pesto") without talking down to the reader or getting too cutesy. Second, the recipes are things the whole family will really want to eat. No putting faux eyeballs on food to make it "kid friendly" (again, apologies to Betty Crocker and her black olive eyeballs!) and definitely no "open the jar of sauce and pour it in the pan" type of "cooking." These are real recipes for real food. Kids are even encouraged to make their own pasta. The recipes are simple enough for teens to make and for younger children to do partnered up with an adult. In fact, we can think of more than a few of our adult friends, novice cooks, who could use this book. Finally, the step-by-step illustrations (there is also a photograph of each complete dish) by the talented Harriet Russell are interesting, fun and add an artsy comic book quality that we found completely charming.
The Silver Spoon for Children is published by Phaidon (where you can see more images of book pages). The recipes have been adapted and written by Amanda Grant. It's temporarily sold out on Phaidon's site but you can easily find it from other online sources or ask for it at your local bookstore.