"Something magical began to happen among the villagers. As each person opened their heart to give, the next person gave even more. And as this happened, the soup grew richer and smelled more delicious." ~excerpt from Jon J. Muth's picture book, Stone Soup
In case you're not already familiar with this story, three monks arrive in a Chinese village and find everyone keeping to themselves behind closed doors and windows. In hopes of bringing some happiness to the reclusive people, they start gathering supplies to make stone soup.
People start peeking out of their windows with curiosity, and a girl is the first to come out and help them with their project. The fire is lit, and the warmth spreads like wildfire, nourishing the entire community.
The stones in the story are like dormant seeds waiting to be sprinkled with water, or gifts waiting to be unwrapped. They hold a magic inside, just waiting for someone to unleash it.
Picture books hold that same kind of magic, and all we have to do is open them up. If we put just the right ones in a basket, and pour in some love and enthusiasm, might the process inspire picky eaters to open their windows and doors to a whole new world of healthy eating?
You may be skeptical. I am not, because I've witnessed the raw power of children's literature in my own home and in a variety of school settings. Each eater is different, of course, but I think many will agree that all kinds of magical things can happen when people open really great books, no matter how young, old, or reluctant they may be. The key is to match the right books with any given reader.
And so, my picture book recipe for raising healthy eaters does not include a specific set of ingredients, and there's no special order or method to adding them to your special pot. You will need an inner fire of enthusiasm to get the process started, as well as a favorite food-related children's book or two (or three or four...), in order to spark an interest in your child. Oh, and you'll most certainly need a library card, too. It's like the ladle that stirs it all up and dishes it out.
Stewing Up Some Healthy Eating (Stone Soup (Favorites on CD) is version by Marcia Brown) ©Dawn Morris
The younger your child is when you start this process, and the more you stir the pot and let it simmer, the more likely it is that an irresistible aroma will begin to fill the air. Might your child actually try the soup? No one can say for sure, as no recipe comes with a guarantee.
And so, in order to help you light the flame of healthy eating, I've compiled a list of the many food-related picture books I've written about. Since every reader eater is different, you can go through it at your leisure to see which one might be the stone you're looking for.
What type of book, and related activity, might spark an interest in your children or students? Here are just a few of the subjects and types of picture books I've in included in my list:
- seeds and life cycles
- picky eaters
- photographic books
- books with diverse settings and characters
- rhyming books
- laugh-out-loud books
- beautifully illustrated books
- books with imagination
- books which bring food, living things, and places to life
- books with many possible connections (science, art, nature, social studies, math, writing, health, music, just to name a few)
Just as the little girl helped the monks find just the right stones, I'm sure your child(ren) will be happy to guide you along in this process as well. If we take anything away from Stone Soup, it's that people, books, and learning tools are so much more powerful when they work alongside each other.
With that said, I can't think of a better place for a whole community of healthy eaters and avid readers to come together than at the public library. For me, it's a place where there'll always be a gift waiting to be unwrapped. Have you opened yours lately?
Thank you for visiting my blog. A special shout out and thank you go to Share a Story day 2 host, Dawn Little of Literacy Toolbox, for including me in her amazing lineup of bloggers. She has some of her own beautifully wrapped presents too, so please be sure to hop on over and check them out.
And if that's not enough, there are even more gifts of literacy just waiting to be unwrapped at the main Share a Story, Shape a Future blog tour site today, and every day this week. Enjoy!