Soul Food Sunday

Promotional image for the book Soul Food Sunday. The book is surrounded by the ingredients to make macaroni and cheese.


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.

Double-page spread of Soul Food Sunday. In this image, Granny is shredding cheese with her grandson.

Soul Food Sunday Lesson Activity

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.

Learn More

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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