The Empty Pot

Written and Illustrated by: Demi

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

The Empty Pot follows a young boy named Ping as he tries to grow the most beautiful flower for the Emperor. Begin your read-through by discussing the cover and illustrations with your child. Encourage him/her to make initial observations and predictions before you dive into the story. Consider asking questions like these:

Make Observations

What do you notice on the cover?

Make Predictions

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?

Why do you think Ping's pot is empty?

Ask About Your Child's Favorite Plants

What kind of flowers do you like?

Have you ever planted a flower before? Did you like it? Why or why not?

As You Read

Vocabulary Building:

While reading, encourage your child to stop and identify words that they are not familiar with. Allow him/her to discover a word’s meaning by using the words and illustrations surrounding it. Examples of new words in The Empty Pot include:


Making Connections:

Ping has to make a very difficult decision: stay home and avoid being shamed by the Emperor or present his empty pot and face the consequences. Ask your child what s/he would do in this situation by asking, "What would you do if you were Ping? Why would you do that? What do you think Ping will do?"

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Take time to recap the events of the story and discuss the lessons that can be learned. Ask questions like:

Discuss The Plot.

How did the Emperor plan to pick his successor?

Why do you think he wanted a child to be the new Emperor?

What was wrong with Ping's plant?

Why did the Emperor choose Ping?

If all of the seeds were cooked and couldn't bloom, how did all of the other children grow beautiful plants?

Talk About The Lesson.

What would have happened if Ping had lied and used another seed like the other children? 

Why do you think Ping brought the empty pot?

Do you think Ping did the right thing? Why or why not?

Activity: Plant A Beautiful Flower

Inspired by Livestrong

Supplies: flower seeds, egg carton or small flower pots, potting soil, a water can and a trowel


See if you can plant a flower worthy of the Emperor's approval with these simple planting steps.

  1. Begin by explaining what each supply is and what it will be used for. Tell your child that there are 4 things that plants need to grow: SOIL, WATER, AIR AND SUNLIGHT.

  2. Fill your pot or egg carton with soil and have your child poke holes in the center of each dirt pile. Then let him/her put one or two seeds in each hole and cover it with soil. 

  3. Water the plant and place it in a sunny window so that it gets plenty of sunlight.
  4. If it isn't cold out, you can transfer your seedlings outside so that they can get plenty of fresh air and sunlight. Dig a hole and carefully put a seedling in it. Repeat this process for all of the seedlings, then pat down on the dirt. Don't forget to water your seedlings.
  5. Encourage your child to continue caring for the plants and monitoring their growth until they bloom. 

STEM Extension

As your seedlings grow into flowers, be sure to explain to your child what is happening. Encourage your child to document what s/he sees by drawing a picture of the plants at different stages in their growth. Explain that plants need sunlight because they use the light to make the food that they need to grow, and that process is called photosynthesis. Name the various parts of the plant like the stem, roots, leaves, etc.