Sometimes You Just Need To Make Stone Soup

Making stone soup is a challenging task. Some people say it can’t be done. But it can… oh it can. Creating a community of readers can be just as difficult. However, when you have the right chef and when the members of the community become aware of the ingredients THEY can bring to the soup, the rich and delicious soup is made. If you are going to make stone soup, you must start with three key things. Bring on the pot, water, and of course the STONES. These three things are ESSENTIAL. If they are not present, those nervously watching from the other side of the pot, already doubting the creation of the soup and most importantly doubting how they can contribute to the soup, will not be able to see themselves as future chefs.


Ingredients for Stone Soup:

1 Large Pot – The shared belief (by every teacher, parent, administrator…) that EVERY         child is a reader and can learn how to read.

Water  – Mindful use of language that encompasses and supports the learner and the    endless possibilities that will be added.

Stones  – Encouragement to take risks.

Why are these three ingredients so important, you ask? You can certainly TRY to make stone soup without them, but every time someone does the soup just leaves a BAD taste in everyones mouth. This is why they are SO IMPORTANT.


How on earth do you plan on keeping it all together? I tried making stone soup once, and I very quickly learned the importance of a good sturdy pot. The first time, I used a pot that leaned to one side, and let me tell you it ended up being just one heck of a mess. If you don’t believe me you can try for yourself, or you can read through the article written by Paul J. Baker and R. Kay Moss titled Creating a Community of Readers and you’ll see the necessity of a good solid cooking pot. You can find this by copying and pasting the info below in a new tab.


Well…come on…this should just be a given. This is a necessity for any good soup. Name a soup that didn’t require the use of water. Not to mention some soups need boiling hot, some just a mere simmer, and well those odd summer soups require COLD water. Strange, so very strange. I digress. The water “provides the building material for (children’s) understanding of a wide range of literate concepts, practices, and possibilities…” (Johnston, 2004, p. 10). So there you have it, plain and simple, no water = no possibilities. So DONT FORGET THE WATER!


A risky ingredient I agree. The soup is called Stone Soup after all so…reason stands – REQUIRED! People don’t naturally think to use stones as an ingredient and thats why you just have to do it. Going beyond ones comfort zone and taking a chance is what makes Stone Soup taste so darn good.


I can tell you’re formulating a BUT?!…

I would bet is sounds something like this:

“But Ashlee everyone knows stone soup wasn’t just made with stones and water in a big pot”

You’re right! The stones aren’t the only thing found on the cutting board.

Enter the chef, and the nervous community members watching from the other side of the pot.  That sneaky chef I tell ya’ has a way with words. Finessing and helping the onlookers see the potential THEY have to ENHANCE the flavour of the soup by TRYING out NEW cooking skills and adding INGREDIENTS to the POT.


So to satisfy you BUT!? Here is a list of ingredients that often get added to the pot:

Onion           – Family/ School Literacy Events

Carrots         – Reading Buddies

Celery          – Home Reading Programs

Potatoes      – Teach Your Monster To Read

Herbs           – Apps (Cahill and McGill Franzen, 2013, p.30)

Peas            – Tumble Books

Salt              – Digital Picture Books (Theormer and Williams, 2012, p.441)

Pepper        – Digital Picture Books (Schugar and Smith, 2013, p. 615)

Protein        – Raz-Kids

Really the possibilities are endless. I found many more ingredient options on this not so cooking website. (You just never know what your going to find, or where your going to find it on the internet)

I know some of these see ingredients may not be found in your pantry, and the sound of some of them may be a tad scary to try. No one wants a BAD soup in the end. The site below will help give you some comfort in explaining why these ingredients might just be the best choice for your future soup. 2013/03/15670_MS_EarlyChildhood_Industrypaper_08082012.pdf

If you think about the magic behind stone soup it truly is amazing. So I leave you with one last reminder: only when you use the three essential ingredients, and a combination of the ones brought by those nervously watching will you have a tasty STONE SOUP.


Dig in everyone!

The Shopping List

2016, Education, S., & licensors, its. (2002). Starfall: Learn to read with Phonics, learn mathematics. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

A-Z, L. Raz-Kids. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Baker, P. J., & Moss, K. R. Creating a community of readers. Retrieved from

Bushey, E. Inkless tales. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Cahill, M., & McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Selecting “App” ealing and “App” ropriate book Apps for beginning readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 30–39. doi:10.1002/trtr.1190

Johnston, P. H. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children’s learning. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Lovegrove, M., & Primary, C. Teach your monster to read. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Schugar, H. R., Smith, C. A., & Schugar, J. T. (2013). Teaching with interactive picture e-books in grades K-6. The Reading Teacher, 66(8), 615–624. doi:10.1002/trtr.1168


Thoermer, A., & Williams, L. (2012). Using digital texts to promote fluent reading. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 441–445. doi:10.1002/trtr.01065

Tumblebooks -read watch learn! Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher, 67(8), 577–585. doi:10.1002/trtr.1262


6 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Need To Make Stone Soup

  1. What a wonderful way to present your information! I, once again, have thoroughly enjoyed reading your post…you put an engaging spin on this assignment for sure! Loved it!!


  2. Fantastic post! Loved the extended metaphor and extensive discussion of the importance of a whole school community, pulling together to make something great. You’ve captured my attention, as well as anyone else coming by with an excellent blog post full of engaging discussion, powerful multi-media and very practical suggestions. Loved this and think it was a perfect vehicle for your exploration. Good choice of labels and tags.


  3. I love that book.
    What resonates most with me about your blog is the acknowledgement we must take risks. More than ever these days teacher-librarians must be leaders and risk takers in order to promote digital literacy and literacy n general. I’m going to check out the digital books too.


  4. I love your post!
    The analogy of us, as Teacher Librarians, being the chefs in our kitchen (schools) creating stone soup (a reading community) is excellent. It does require that everyone be on-board and focussed on the same goal. We bring various skill sets to the table, but together, we can make it work!
    Well done!


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