When you think about family traditions, what comes to mind? Do you see food in your mental picture? In the book Soul Food Sunday, food brings the family together. Every Sunday, cars full of family members pull up to Granny’s house. Cousins, aunts and uncles unload groceries and games. The adults head to the kitchen and the outdoor grill, while the children settle into their games.
The narrator of the story is Granny’s grandson. Granny decides he is old enough to learn how to make soul food. She teaches him how to shred cheese, clean greens, and prepare meat. His arms get tired, but he doesn’t complain. He’s excited to cook with Granny.
When Granny takes a break, the narrator wants to keep working. He’s inspired to make his own recipe. He brews some tea with sugar, lemon and ice. His delicious tea adds sweetness to the Soul Food Sunday family tradition.
The illustrations invite readers into a kitchen full of warmth and love. Vibrant colors show the joy of being together and celebrating a tradition. Everyone is happy as they prepare the family meal.
Readers will want to try the delicious recipe for Mac ‘N’ Cheese that follows the story. The steps are easy for young readers to follow. A quote from Granny about seasoning guides readers as they cook.
The Author’s Note reveals a great story about how Bingham learned to cook. She made a series of phone calls to her granny while she cooked. When Granny gave Bingham a direction, she would hang up the phone and follow the steps. When Bingham was ready for the next direction, she would call Granny back to hear more. These series of phone calls continued until the end of the recipe.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.B.1 Learners adjust their awareness of the
global learning community by interacting with learners who reflect a range of perspectives.
Write the word “tradition” on chart paper. Ask learners what they know about the word “tradition.” Explain that you will read a story about a family tradition. Tell learners that while you read, their job is to notice how the narrator feels about the tradition.
Explain that after reading the book, learners will discuss a favorite tradition. It could be something they celebrate with their family or another family. Say, “We will have this discussion to learn more about each other. We will notice that even though our experiences are different, we still have things in common. This will help us expand our world view and build a strong learning community. One way we can learn more about each other is by sharing our traditions.”
Read the story. Ask the following questions:
“Why do you suppose the boy wanted to be in the kitchen rather than play with his cousins? What makes you say so? What is your favorite family tradition? This could be a tradition you celebrated at another family’s house.”
Direct learners to illustrate or write about the tradition. Divide the class into groups. Invite learners to discuss their traditions. Encourage learners to notice similarities and differences with the traditions.
As learners line up to leave, ask them to state one thing they learned from their discussions.
Enrich this lesson by reading Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali and Rahele Jomepour Bell. Discuss what happens when we learn more about each other.
Watch Beyond the Book with Winsome Bingham and C.G. Esperanza on the Abrams Books YouTube channel to learn about the book. Discover how the story and illustrations developed. Hear how Esperanza illustrates projects that “change peoples perspectives and makes them see things in a different way” [14:25]. Bingham and Esperanza also discuss exciting new projects.
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It’s the night before Eid, and Amira is busy preparing for the holiday celebration. She fills goody bags with candy and decorates her hands with henna. Her Eid shalwar kameez is hanging on the closet door, ready to wear to the masjid. Amira loves celebrating with family and friends.
Tomorrow is also picture day at school. This upsets Amira. She’s afraid that if she’s not in the class photo, nobody will remember her.
When Amira arrives at the masjid the next day, she’s happy to see her friends. The decorations are beautiful and the food smells delicious. Amira has a great time.
Amira packs up the extra goodie bags when the festivities end. She realizes that school is still in session, and asks if she can bring the treats to her class.
Amira feels a little funny and nervous about walking into her classroom. She’s still wearing her shalwar kameez, and no one will know why she missed school that morning. Amira’s mother explains the absence to the teacher, and the class is happy to see Amira. They love her clothes and her decorated hands.
The story ends with the class getting their picture taken. Amira is in the photo. She made it back to class in time for the class picture.
The illustrations in this story capture the joyful celebration of Eid. The pages are full of candy, streamers, and clothes in brilliant colors. The story will compel readers to learn more about unfamiliar words and practices.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Grow: I.D.1 Learners participate in an ongoing inquiry-based process by continually seeking knowledge.
Engage learners by asking them to name a favorite holiday. Explain that you are going to read a story about a holiday called Eid. Show the cover of Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi and Fahmida Azim. Explain that Eid is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. Ask learners to share what they already know about Eid.
Explain that Eid could fall on a school day. When that happens, Muslims go to a place of worship instead of school. Sometimes, this means that they miss out on special school activities.
Ask the following questions as you read Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi and Fahmida Azim:
Ask readers to consider the author’s purpose for writing the story. Invite learners to learn more about Eid or another holiday they are unfamiliar with.
Introduce a favorite database or nonfiction book series to help answer questions. Tell learners to record lingering questions as they research their topic.
After they gather information, ask learners to consider how they can share what they learned.
After reading this story, I wanted to learn about mehndi. Skillshare offers classes on this craft. I watched Puja Modi’s course and learned how to make a mehndi cone, mix a batch of henna, and paint designs.
Decorating with henna and a mehndi cone is a lot like decorating a cake. It takes practice to get the mixture at the right consistency. My first batch was probably too thick. Sometimes, the mixture got stuck and I had to apply more pressure to the cone. This left clumpy lines.
I look forward to trying it again. I’ll stick with practicing on paper for a while. I want to get a good handle on it before trying to design on skin.
If you’d like to check out Skillshare free for 14 days, you can use my teacher referral link. I will get a small fee if you decide to subscribe. Click here for the referral link.
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.
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