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Children's Books About Quilts and Quilting
Children's picture books featuring quilts capture the essence of home, heritage, family, and community. There is nothing quite like the heart-warming story featuring a quilter who has mastered the art of piecing materials together to make a new creation from worn pieces of cloth collected from varied sources, only to pass on the family tradition to a person of the younger generation. Books about quilts and quilting are often inter-generational stories, and the best communicate the joy of passing family traditions from generation to generation. Quilts are family history, art, and handiwork, and they symbolically represent hard work, thrift, and creating something from nothing.
Many of the children's books in my selections are are a little long for a young preschool-aged crowd, but they are very enjoyable to read, and will work well for early elementary grades. If you are a teacher looking for books to complement a character education curriculum, these books will make an excellent source for discussion and possibly even action. If you are storytime presenter looking for children's books about quilts, read through some of these selections first, focusing on a few that are shorter in length. For preschool sharing I particularly like The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root, described below.
Related Children's Book Reviews
- An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The frigid, snow-covered, outlying farmstead near early 20th century Lansing Michigan is the setting of a children's Christmas story written by Patricia Polacco based on the traditions and stories told to the author by her grandmother.
- The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy
A 1986 winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award, this book has both a charming, realistic story and pictures that evoke family's relationship with a beloved grandmother, and the patchwork quilt she crafts through an extended illness.
Children's Books Recommendations
The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root (ISBN 0374354847) is a touching story about a girl, her grandmother, and a special quilt with the names of many relatives, both living and deceased. The quilt is a special comfort item but it is blown away in a storm. This story concludes with the beginning of a new tradition, and highlights the importance of family in our lives.
The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (ISBN 076145313X) is a story chiefly for classroom teachers to share with their students, but it is noteworthy because the story has a strong character education component. This story is also a bit long, and tells of a young student (depicted as a bunny) whose teacher challenges her to perform a kind deed. As a result, she performs several kind deeds, and creates a kindness quilt to share with her class. The class and the school are so inspired by her quilt, they decide to join in.
The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau (ISBN 0439309107) is about a gifted quiltmaker whose talents bring her to the attention of a greedy king. Though she is known for giving her quilts as gifts to the poor, instead of selling her fabric works of art, the kind demands that she give him a quilt too. This story has beautiful colorful illustrations and a strong moral, but is a very long story. Most elementary aged students will enjoy this story, but if you share this story in a preschool story hour, prepare to condense the story for younger attention spans.
The Quiltmaker's Journey also by Jeff Brumbeau (ISBN 0439512190) is the prequel to The Quiltmaker's Gift, and tells the story of a wealthy young girl's discovery of poverty and need in the world outside of her own sequestered life. This story looks more deeply at giving to those in need, and I have to wonder if the author drew his inspiration from the story of the Buddha? The illustrations and the quilt patterns on each of these books are engrossing works of art and make the books an appealing grandparent gift for the family quilter.
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco is the story of a Russian immigrant's family heritage through four generations. Oma's Quilt similarly is a multi-generational quilt story, but focuses on the social issue of moving an elderly grandmother into a nursing home.
The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy and Jerry Pinkney is a Reading Rainbow Book that won the Coretta Scott King book award for promoting peace, brotherhood, and non-violent social change. This tender book is the story of a family whose matriarch decides to make a patchwork quilt, because "A quilt won't forget, it can tell your life story." This book shows how one family's quilting tradition helped to strengthen the family. The feeling of this story, while not overly sentimental, is deeply touching. I hope you will get a copy and read it. It is a lengthy story, so probably will not work for a preschool story hour setting, but would make an excellent addition to an older first grade classroom or older.