Carolyn writes about children's literature for library, preschool, or homeschool settings. She has a BA in English Literature.
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.
For older elementary ages, two titles about freedom quilts, that were used by slaves, tell the important story of the Underground Railroad and escape to freedom. These books are highly-recommended and capture an important part of United States history that should not be ignored.
"A quilt won't forget, it can tell your life story."
— Valerie Flournoy
The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom by Bettye Stroud and Erin Susanne Bennett
This is the dramatic story of an enslaved girl and her family's months-long escape to freedom in Canada. The girl's mama makes her a patchwork quilt with meaningful patterns that lead the way on their journey of escape. This book is based on the true story of how slaves used quilts to communicate on the Underground Railroad. Stroud has written with sensitivity about a dark chapter in the history of the United States. Due to the length and detail of this story, such as being chased by dogs in the pouring rain, and the death of the main character's mother, some thought should be given to age-appropriate reading and discussion of the story.
The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root and Margot Apple
The Name Quilt by Phyllis Root 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 Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau
The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau 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. The cover, though nice, doesn't do justice to the artwork in this book.
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 Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
The Kindness Quilt 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 (who happens to be an anthropomorphic 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 Journey by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail DeMarcken
The Quiltmaker's Journey 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 both books by Brumbeau an appealing grandparent gift for the family quilter.
The Patchwork Quilt
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.
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
The Keeping Quilt, in publication for over 25 years, is the story of a Russian immigrant's family heritage through four generations. The unusual illustrations in this book are mostly in black and white, though the quilts and fabrics in the story are rendered in full color, giving the quilt a special life of its own on each page of this story.
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.
Read This Next
- 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.
nms from Cochin on September 19, 2010:
Interesting hub. Beautiful!
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 19, 2010:
Thanks ListLady, I hope your grandchildren become as inspired by your quilting as I was inspired by my own grandmother's.
TheListLady from New York City on September 17, 2010:
What a lovely idea. It's been a long long time since I've done any quilting and would like to start again. How great it will be to share a book with the grandchildren so they can understand what I am doing. I went to a quilting fair some time ago and it was awesome - just jaw-dropping. Wow! True artists.
Thanks a million!
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 08, 2010:
Dahoglund, I think quilting is one of the most popular and enduring art forms...and it is the very thrift of it that appeals to many. Quilts are so magical. My mother-in-law restored some quilt tops that were made by her ancestors several generations earlier. She has made so many quilts for her over 25 grandkids, and they are all treasured.
Kaie, I have never tried to make a complicated pieced quilt, but I want to! Baby quilts are easy to make but quilting requires a kind of patience that I sometimes lack. For now my real love is writing on HubPages! :)
Kaie Arwen on September 08, 2010:
I have always wanted to learn to quilt! My grandmother and her sister made beautiful quilts, but alas, they gave up on me after I'd accomplished the cross stitch. I can needlepoint, and I love it, but quilting would have made a beautiful hobby. Thanks for this! Kaie
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on September 08, 2010:
The interest in "lost" arts like quilting is an interesting trend. I remember patchwork quilts when I grew up. I don't think they had any theme. Probably made in order to use up scraps of material or rags. Not too much was wasted in those days.
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 07, 2010:
Thanks everyone! I am revising my year of children's book series to be searchable by topic rather than month. This will take some time. Hopefully it will be of better use to people. These are all great books, though my favorite from this selection is The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy.
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on September 07, 2010:
What a neat idea for a hub - and quilting would be what I would want to teach my kids (again) if I could go back and do it over again and myself as well!
shellyakins from Illinois on September 07, 2010:
I used The Quiltmaker's Gift in my middle school classroom as an into to the end of the year project. The kids enjoyed the story and it's easily accessible themes. I need to look into some of your other suggestions. They sound interesting especially the Quiltmaker's Journey.
Sam from Tennessee on September 07, 2010:
voted up & useful! well written and beautiful hub...
Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 07, 2010:
They are absolutely gorgeous.