Sunday, May 17, 2015

Building Readers -- One Baby at a Time

Books and Babies

"Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning," and "More than one in three children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning." ~ www.readaloud.org
These two statements alone should convince parents (and the village that surrounds these children) that reading aloud is important.  All children need a village to encourage them in their pursuit of lifeskills.  Reading and all things related to literacy is important.  To that end whenever I give a baby gift, I include a book, sometimes a stuffed animal, and often a flannel blanket that I have made.  Books are an important part of the present.  Including a gift for the child sends a message to the parents to affirm their own idea that books are important - -and to the child who will be the recipient of the gift.  Make a statement -- reading is important -- give a book.  So here are some ideas...
Lee Bennett Hopkins is a poet who is so respected for his own poetry collections as well as an anthologist, this 2015 collection Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby; with illustrations by Alyssa Nassner (Abrams Appleseed, 2015).  This book has a velvety soft cover, and a board book construction -- very well suited to young hands who will enjoy hearing this book read aloud time after time.

The bear motif cloth seems to be just right for this lullaby collection.  Soft green minky fabric was used for the back of the blanket, and the quilted blanket was edged in a darker green, white polka dot binding.  The back of the burp cloth and the bibs are a small white dotted green flannel.

In most cases, if I know the name of the baby, I create a small tab with the babies name and sew it into the binding making the blanket one that can be taken to daycare without any further marking.


These books and animals were chosen because I just liked the books. The baby chick fabric is a Robert Kaufman fabric - Urban Zoologie Mini Birds Spring in 100% cotton flannel.  Several stores carry this fabric.
The backing for the blanket is a rosette minky officially referred to as "minky swirl fabric."  I purchased the fabric in the hot pink minky rose swirl fabric and the light pink minky rose swirl, as well as a lime green minky swirl fabric.

I found a 100% cotton pink flannel with large white polka dots which I used to back the bib and burp cloth.  The bib pattern is included at the end of this blog; but the flannel burp cloth is simply a rectangle -- with flannel front and back finished at 8 1/2 inches x 17 inches.  So cut the rectangle to accommodate the seam that will need to be sewn.  I generally sew the items right side together, leaving an opening to turn the item so that the right sides are out, and then top stitch the outer edge of the seams.
With this gift, I actually included a very small blanket for an older sister's doll and included the second animal and book set, for the older sister.

The bird theme would lend itself to connecting the fabric gifts to favorite bird books.  Suggestions: You Nest Here With Me and Where Do Birds Live?








 Packaged and ready to be given.  I have started to create quilted cards to accompany the packages that I send.  The cards are created by sewing small pieces of the cloth used to create the gift.

I actually purchased the boxes I am using as the packaging but think I will attempt to use sturdy shoe boxes to decorate and wrap for the next gifts.  I'll see how that goes.

 If the child is a little older there might be some other items that could be gifted.  In this case a sundress created from a purchased t-shirt (to coordinate with an organization the parents were involved in), added fabric shoulder straps, ruffles, and matching bloomers.  I made a quilted card to coordinate with this gift and added a book.  Thematic books celebrating the patriotic Red, White, and Blue philosophy would be another good choice.  Janeczko's Firefly July, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet would be a great choice.  The book of poems provide poems that can be read during several sittings or all at once.  And Ryan's Flag that I love is an information book about the symbol of our patriotism -- a win-win in terms of books that celebrate our country and literacy.


The next time you find a baby in your life - consider giving a book with your gift; and with every other gift that you organize for any child in your life.

If you are interested in making a bib - you might wish to use this pattern.  When you download the pattern the square should measure 1 in x 1 in.  The x is where you will attach the velcro fastener strip.
As mentioned above the flannel burp cloth is simply a rectangle -- with flannel front and back finished at 8 1/2 inches x 17 inches.  So cut the rectangle to accommodate the seam that will need to be sewn.  I generally sew the items right side together, leaving an opening to turn the item so that the right sides are out, and then top stitch the outer edge of the seams.  The larger blanket is a square made the width of the fabric - two coordinating pieces quilted or tied and bound.  Obviously if you do not sew you might wish to select a purchased gift and find a book that coordinates with the theme -- or just enclose one of your favorites.
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