Author: Patricia Polacco
Grade Level: 3-5
Summary: The story "The Keeping Quilt" is about a Jewish family who had just moved here from Russia. They did not have much to show except for the clothes on their own backs. As those in the family grew older, they wanted to reassure themselves that they would forever hold a piece of home with them where ever they went. Great-Gramma Anna took pieces of the family's favorite items of clothing and sewed them all together to create one large quilt. This quilt stayed with the family through any major occasions that took place such as weddings, engagements, and new additions to the family. The quilt is described in the book to have lasted at least three generations within the family. Who knows where it will go next?
Element 3: The Keeping Quilt is a perfect book for element 3, exploring issues of social injustice, because it explores the life of immigration in America. America was created from the immigrants that came to this country, so it can only be assumed that the majority of students in your classroom are from or have ancestors from around the world. The Keeping Quilt shows the ideas that even though families need to adapt and change over time, there are still many traditions that people hang onto.
Activity: The Keeping Quilt creates great ideas for bringing element 3 into the classroom. Because the main idea of book is the quilt, why not make a quilt of your own? Have all of the students in the classroom speak to their elders and find out what traditions have been passed down through time whether it be a materialistic item, or even having spaghetti dinners every sunday night. Each child will write a short report on what it is that makes their family special and what customs they have carried on through the years. In addition, each student will draw a picture of a way the practices has been upheld. Every picture will be attached together on a large sheet that will hang on a wall in the classroom so everyone can see the different beliefs and backgrounds every family has. The students will learn that even though every family is different by their traditions, every family is the same in the simple fact that they all have them.