All January Picks

For Elementary Readers

Freedom Soup

A grandmother teaches her granddaughter to make their traditional New Year’s soup and shares the story of Haitian independence.

Apply in the Classroom

Talk with students about the special time that Belle is spending with her grandmother, not only making delicious soup but dancing together and sharing family history. Ask students to share their own experiences cooking with family and friends and what that time together means to them. Have them plan to share the joy of those experiences by creating a class family recipe book.

Ask students to brainstorm and make a list of special foods and meals they enjoy preparing and eating (or just eating) with their families and to make note of any family traditions that accompany the dish. Students can then later interview a family member about both the food and the traditions that mean the most to them. Or, for students whose families have a tradition of eating out, students may look up a recipe online for their favorite menu item. Ask students to write one of the recipes along with a description of why it is a favorite or how it fits into a family tradition.

To finish their recipe page, ask students to draw a picture of their food or see if they have a photograph of their dishes to go with it. Compile all the recipes and pictures into a class recipe book that you distribute to all families as either a copied booklet or an ebook (compiled in a PDF format). If possible, celebrate with a publishing party featuring some of the delicious foods in the cookbook and readings of the cookbook, Freedom Soup, and other food-themed titles.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

Do you like to cook? Does anyone in your family like to cook? Do you cook together?

What is a tradition? How do you pass a tradition on? What traditions do you have in your family? Why do families have different traditions?

How do traditions develop? Where do ideas for traditions come from?

What New Year traditions would you like to start? Why?