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Children, Youth and Families Programs

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton Parents and their children plant seeds at Little Books and Little Cooks’ Read, Plant, Eat event at Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas. Photo by Yae Bin Kim.

Program for preschool children and their parents to boost healthy eating, literacy, parent-child interaction and school readiness


For many children, academic difficulties begin before they start school. In a national survey, teachers reported that 35 percent of kindergarten children were not ready for school. Poor academic skills in the early years place children at risk, often leading to grade retention, school failure and dropout, delinquency and running away, as well as unemployment and underemployment in adulthood. Children gain critical school readiness skills by engaging in real-life, meaningful activities. Cooking with parents is one educational activity that can help to increase children’s abilities in math, science, reading, language, motor development and social skills in a meaningful and appealing way.

Response/What’s Been Done

Extension’s Little Books and Little Cooks Program, which began in 2012, offers Nevada’s Clark, Washoe and Lincoln County preschool children and their parents the chance to cook and read stories together. Extension provides the books, recipes and cooking instructions.

In 2017, six new books and recipes were added, and the curriculum was also used in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania communities. In addition, a seven-week series was delivered 61 times statewide totaling 424 two-hour workshops, reaching families at at-risk elementary schools, libraries and Head Start sites. Participants included 477 families in Clark and Lincoln Counties, and 165 parents and 172 children in Washoe County.

Also in 2017, the program offered community activities at 58 events throughout the state to promote children’s healthy eating and physical activity. Program faculty delivered information sheets, handouts, promotional displays, posters and newsletters in English and Spanish, reaching at least 3,912 people.

Results/Impact and Partners

Since 2012, the program has reached 2,628 parents and 2,202 children through 193 program series. In 2017, 367 participants completed pre- and post- tests:

  • 327 felt more confident interacting with their child at home.
  • 360 planned to continue using what they learned in the future.
  • 341 said their children help prepare food more often.
  • 327 said their children try new and unfamiliar foods at home more often.
  • 349 said their children feel more confident about using cooking equipment during cooking.

In Clark County, of 60 parents completing a follow-up survey three months after the seven-week series:

  • 37 ate fruits and vegetables two to four times a day.
  • 58 felt confident interacting with their child during mealtime.
  • 58 felt confident interacting with their child when playing or during other routines.
  • 57 knew all the food groups.
  • 35 ate all food groups each day.
  • 59 thought their child was ready for school.
  • 37 said their children help prepare food at home several times a week.
  • 41 said their children eat fruits and vegetables two to four times a day.
  • 46 said their children are more willing to try new and unfamiliar foods at home.
  • 25 said their children eat food from other cultures several times a week.
  • 32 said their children eat all food groups each day.

Partners included:

Public Value Statement

In 2016, Lincoln County developed a farmers market coupon program, where local residents in need were given coupons to use to get free fresh food at the farmers market. A total of $5,190 worth of local food (at least 438 pounds) was distributed to 1,139 people April through June.



children and parents reached through 193 program series since 2012


of participants who completed pre- and post-tests said their children help prepare food more often


of participants who completed pre- and post-tests said their children try new and unfamiliar foods at home more often

"My kids are more interested in cooking and learning about new foods. Also the books made it easy to read as a family."

—Program participant


Clark County

  • YaeBin Kim, Parenting Education and Child Development specialist, 702-257-5521

Lincoln County

Washoe County

  • Dan Weigel, Human Development specialist, 775-784-4848

Children, Youth and Families Programs

Programs Program Information

4-H Afterschool

All children face risks as they grow and develop, but children who live in low-income housing or are homeless may be at higher risk for participating in risky behaviors. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed the 4-H After School Club (ASC) to teach children basic life skills including math, reading, science, positive communication, goal setting, self-responsibility, decision-making and good nutrition. Youth who have these life skills are less likely to participate in risky behaviors.

4-H Youth Development

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

All 4 Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by Cooperative Extension faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.


University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed Bootstraps, a high-risk youth program that helps teens return to school and/or gain meaningful work.

Calming the Waters: Learning to Manage Western Water Conflict

Conflict has surrounded the Truckee, Carson and Walker River Basins for decades. Key issues include historical use on tribal lands, historical and current water rights, threats to water quality, and wildlife habitat protection. This program teaches youth about Nevada’s water issues and helps them develop the skills needed to address future water conflicts.

Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A Workforce Readiness Program

The Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A workforce readiness program for high school students focused on skill development for workplace and job success. Career Edge helps high school students prepare to get their first "paying" job while working toward their dream job or career. Career Edge provides information and training on interview skills, résumé development, filling out applications, finding job leads and selecting appropriate clothing for the workplace. In addition, many "soft skills" needed in the workplace such as decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are integrated throughout the program.

Churchill County Community Readiness Network

Nevada communities need rapid access to information during an emergency. In an effort to enhance community preparedness, safety and available resources and by using GPS and GIS mapping, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth and adult leaders in Churchill County are working with community emergency managers to address evacuation and shelter mapping.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Exploring Your True Colors: Building an Effective Team & Team Development Course

Team Development Course

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

Fun To Play

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Fun To Play program targets families where, due to the young age, inexperience or limited resources of the parents, young children are placed at-risk for developmental delays and later school difficulties. Fun To Play is a series of weekly infant/child sessions aimed at improving the parenting skills of young parents by increasing the amount of learning activities and interaction they provide their children.

Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Young girls making collages with magazine pictures

Keeping Kids Safe: Recognizing, Reporting and Responding to Child Maltreatment

young girl sitting at desk in empty classroom

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton

Nevada State GEAR UP

Partners in Parenting

Partners in Parenting promotes positive parenting and child health and development, thereby preventing child abuse and other poor childhood outcomes.

Project MAGIC

Project MAGIC is an innovative, collaborative program designed to help juvenile offenders leave the criminal justice system and become productive members of society. While participating in the program, young people ages 12 to 18 learn: positive communication skills, team building, problem solving and decision making, self-responsibility, conflict resolution, aspiration building and goal setting. Youth also select and conduct a service project designed to benefit their community. Parent sessions include the same life skills.

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

4-H members showing pigs