Children’s literature abounds in books that involve quilts. The best of these are a treat to the eye and a dose of warmth for the heart. Of course, best known is Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. Do go back to the blog post all about her and hear her read the book.
Among my favorites picture books are several which deal with family histories told in quilts. Tony Johnston’s The Quilt Story, illustrated by Tomie dePaola in his unique style, tells of a mother who makes a quilt to comfort her daughter and generations later, it brings warmth to another little girl.
In The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy, with gorgeous illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, three generations join forces to create a quilt that tells the family story. Onc book that is very moving, and does not deal with female quilters, tells the story of a ten-year old who brings back memories for his grandfather, who is afflicted with Alzheimers, by bringing out the quilt his grandfather had made when fleeing from war-torn Laos. Grandfather’s Story Cloth by Llinda Gerdner.
In The Keeping Quilt, Patricia Polacco tells the story of her family’s quilt, beginning with its first owner, Great-Gramma Anna, who came from Russia as a girl and ending with Patricia’s grandchildren. Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt by Barabara Smucker, depicts how, when the Civil War separates a Mennoite family fleeing to Canada to avoid religious persecution, the aged grandmother makes a quilt for her departing granddaughter. Ann Jonas’ The Quilt tells the life story of one little girl, who pours over the patches, remembers their sources, and dreams of more adventures.
Many of these great books which feature quilts or quilting also depict history. On the long trek to the West in 1850, a young girl makes a patchwork quilt recording her experiences in The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr. Unlike the others mentioned, this comes in an easy reader format. Most of the children’s books dealing with quilts are fiction, but there are some stunning non-fiction ones too. Stitching Stars: the Story Quilts of Harriet Powers by Mary E. Lyons is a richly illustrated biography of a quilter who designed her quilts to tell Bible stories and folktales.
Eight Hands Round: a Patchwork Alphabet by Ann Paul is much more than an alphabet book as it tells the stories of patchwork patterns. For poetry lovers, Anna Grossnickle Hines’ Pieces: a Year in Poems and Quilts is illustrated with photographs of quilts she made.
Borrow from your library or buy for a kid. Remember your independent bookstore.