Saturday, March 5, 2011

What if a Stone Could Change the World?

Stone Soup

Retold and illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Age Range: 4 to 8
Scholastic, Inc. 2003 (32 pp, $17.99, hardcover)

Rating 5/5

image from
Generosity is powerful.

Three monks wonder along hazy mountains of China.  “What makes one happy?” each of them wonder.  On their journey to discover the answer to the question, Hok, Lok, and Siew encounter anxious villagers.  The villagers have been through troubled times and are wary when it comes to strangers.  The three monks cleverly allure them to make soup from stones.  But, will the villagers find happiness through stones and a brave, curious, little girl? 

Stone Soup is another classic in my eyes.   Stone Soup is listed for children ages 4 to 8.  Again, I do not believe it is necessary to put an age limit to beautiful books with deeper meanings.  Muth takes his own view on the original Stone Soup and creates a beautifully written and illustrated rendition through his love of Zen Buddhism and Eastern culture.  The deeper meaning, being that generosity makes people rich, is reflected throughout the entire story through dialogue and illustrations.  The part I like most about this book is that one little girl starts the giving and makes a difference.  Through the actions of one little girl, the villagers then see how giving can create a feeling of happiness and love for the whole village.

I recommend this book to teachers and parents who want to teach their students or children how generosity can make a difference.  Anyone can make a difference, start with this book!

  1.   In a classroom, teachers can create a classroom jar.  In this jar, student’s can place something important about themselves.  This then, can project a class as a whole.  
  2.  In a classroom, teachers can create a classroom jar.  In this jar, students create a word or phrase that reflects the classroom environment they would want.  Questions:  Do you want respect from other classmates?  Should you feel safe in our classroom?  How should we act in a classroom? 
  3.  In a classroom, teachers can create a classroom jar.  In this jar, students put a word or phrase that describes them.

* These ideas would help create a better classroom environment.  When students create something, like their own expectations, they feel more obligated to follow rules and expectations.

1.       At home, families can create a jar with different goals of that month.  Each family member can create a goal a month that will help their family.  Examples:  Talk out problems instead of arguing, play nice with my brother or sister, complete all chores, make bed, clean dishes, dust, finish homework before watching TV, etc…

* I realize these ideas stray from the original meaning of the book.  However, they all reflect a group of people coming together making a better place and environment to live in.*

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