Henrietta loves to read and has hardly any time to lay eggs. The farmer says he is sending all the rest of the hens on a vacation as a reward for their hard work. As they leave, Henrietta reads the words on their truck which say, “ Souper Soup Company” and realizes her friends are headed for the soup. Along the road to rescue them she hitchhikes pigs and cows. At the factory she reads the signs in the hallways to find the chickens, reads the code to find the address, and, after the rescue, finally discovers in a magazine a vegetarian farm where they can live.
Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, © 2003, ISBN 0-8234-1704-20
Literacy Can Save You
Read the story aloud to the students first. Then, to develop listening and note-taking skills, read it again. During the second reading, have students make note of the ways in which being able to read is important in solving the problems that Henrietta faces:
- She reads the sign about the soup company on the truck.
- She finds the address for the factory on the label of a can.
- She reads the sign on the pigs’ truck.
- She reads the sign on the cows’ truck.
- She reads the signs in the hallways to find where the chickens are.
- She reads the code to get in the door.
- She reads the magazine covers in the mailboxes to find a good place to live, with a vegetarian.
Ask students to make up their own story in which literacy helps to solve the problems of the character. Remind them that the structure of a typical story is to present a problem, make 2-3 attempts to solve it, and then have the last one work.
In Souperchicken, the structure is:
- Present the character, Henrietta, as a reader.
- Present a problem for the chickens (this is not a vacation).
- Reading makes the problem clear.
- Attempts: chasing the truck, hitch-hiking on trucks, finding them at the factory, breaking them loose, finding them a suitable home.
When student shave finished, you could present some other picture books in which literacy is essential to solving the literacy problems.
For 5 creative writing ideas, click Souperchicken to download.