Suggestions welcome…

Now that I am moving into the land of machine embroidery, I am finally getting started on a project I have long wanted to do; it is what I am calling in my head the Techno-Redwork Library Quilt.Now, I know it won’t be proper redwork as it will be machine embroidery and mostly weave fill stitches, but it will be an homage to the genre. So many of the redwork quilts I adore are made up of illustrations for children, explicitly linking the quilt to stories.

Well, for this quilt I will be selecting a library of books for my children, books that I think of as essential for their growing up, for the process of becoming adults. They will be books that range from learning to read to what I think of as the last book one truly needs to read before going off to college. And I will then be generating links to those books through QR codes. The idea is that they will be able to use their iPad to scan the QR code to get to a book that they will want, and will be able to download that book to read it (we will have set up an account for them to purchase these books).

What I love about this idea is tying the redwork to stories through the quilt, making the quilt the site for reading, not just something to be under while reading, but the space that leads to reading. The quilt becomes a digital library even as it reinforces the physical space of reading. I love the idea of tying technology and tradition together, wedding quilt and screen, just as I merge the materiality of the quilt with the amazing digital technology available with machine embroidery. At least that is how it goes in my head…

I’m still debating the type of quilt I want to reference, though I am leaning toward doing it en pointe. I’m been flitting between these two for a while now:



Though this one still calls out to me, but I think the weight of the embroidery (you’ll see soon) will need some sort of balance with a bit of sashing or piecing…


[Images from, one of my favorite places to go for some quilty research. Click on any of the quilt images to go to the full record.]

I’ve long known what the final book will be: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. I’ve long considered it an essential piece of reading, so much so that it will be making a cameo appearance in my book, and possibly everyone I do if I do more. And the great thing about QR codes is that you can mess with them, so here is the design for A Room of One’s Own:


So, about those suggestions. While K and I are working away at compiling our list of possibilities, I’d love to hear your input. What books were essential to you during your childhood? What books do you look back at, or return to again and again? What books do you credit with helping you become who you are?

Oh, and why? Convince us…

And thanks for your help. So many books to choose from.


Note: Remember, I’m looking for books for from just learning to read all the way to heading off to college, so children’s books all the way to essential pieces of world literature, including books that they will not quite get, but will inspire them to find out about all the things they don’t yet understand…

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28 Responses to Suggestions welcome…

  1. 1
    DeeAnn says:

    Shel Silverstein’s “A Light In The Attic”. Mainly for the poem “Dry The Dishes”. It was one of my children’s favorites.

  2. 2
    Andres says:

    “Where the Sidewalk Ends” was a favorite growing up. My parents didn’t have much money so I worked hard to win a copy in a grade school contest. I found the poems funny, quirky, and touching which, I think, are all very important character traits.

  3. 3
  4. 4

    I completely loved horses, so my favorite books were usually horse-related or horse racing-related…The Black Stallion, etc. I also loved the books by James Herriot, and probably read them 20 times each. I liked all of the Oz books a lot.

    I went to Catholic school, and in 6-8 grade we spent a week each of those years studying the Holocaust. We had a nun for religion class (obviously), and she recognized that event every year. For some reason I’ve always been interested in books related to that subject. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something about finding out how horrible people can be, and finding out how amazing other people can be.

  5. 5
    DeeAnn says:

    2 more favorites: Secret Garden, and Where The Wild Things Are.

  6. 6
    Amy says:

    Cry, The Beloved Country, A. Paton
    The Lottery, S. Jackson
    Their Eyes Were Watching God, Z. Hurston
    Shiloh, P. Naylor
    Hatchet, G. Paulson

    off the top of my head

  7. 7
    Jamie Lee says:

    The Island Stallion trilogy–those books made my imagination run wild. A lost island with secret tunnels and a pack of majestic horses were enough to make me read and read again and read again.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    When I was in high school, Tess of the D’Urbervilles was a book I read cover to cover in one day as I hid in a book closet in the English department on the last day of school instead of going to classes. It wasn’t a book I was ever assigned to read. It was the first book I read and felt like I was starting to understand life and that good does not always trump evil.

    Other books are classics like Little Women, The Secret Garden, and Little House in the Big Woods. In this genre I loved A Little Princess. Just like a fairytale, an Anne of Green Gables kind of story.

    I am excited to see what books make the list.

  8. 8
    Dan says:

    oh, so we’re defining the canon, are we? Well, these are all books I love…

    goodnight moon
    where the wild things are
    where the sidewalk ends
    charlotte’s web
    harold and the purple crayon
    harriet the spy
    the phantom tollbooth
    james and the giant peach
    wuthering heights
    a tale of two cities
    the color purple
    diary of a young girl
    east of eden
    things fall apart
    midsummer nights dream
    romeo and juliet
    the bluest eye
    to kill a mockingbird
    huckleberry finn

  9. 9

    My personal favorites..

    Goodnight Moon
    Runaway Bunny
    Charlotte’s Web
    Little Women
    Catcher in the Rye

    Love this idea!

  10. 10
    Emily says:

    Books just for kids or for everyone? I think Harry potter deserves a place – it’s that first intro to reading for pleasure for so many. Also my daughter’s favorite right now is “Heckedy Peg” … I’m sure there are a zillion others, we’re book people around here.

  11. 11
    Joanna says:

    A Wrinkle in Time. The Outsiders. On the Road.

  12. 12
    Mary Ann says:

    The Hobbit, Lord of the Ring series, Wizard of Oz, Harold and the Purple Crayon, any Doctor Sues book.

  13. 13
    jill says:

    Hand, hand, finger thumb (intro to rhythm)
    Green Eggs and Ham
    Winnie the Pooh (great intro to humour and language play – also a great version out right now read aloud by Stephen Fry and Judy Dench and some other great brits)
    Alice in Wonderland
    Little Women
    Where the Wild things Are
    When Stella Was Very Small (beautiful language, great illustrations, and lovely book for siblings)
    The Secret Garden (sentimental, I know, but I loved it as a 9 yr old girl)
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    The Mysterious Benedict Society (great themes about what it means to be gifted, media influence, bravery, friendship)
    The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
    The Lord of the Rings
    The Bible (preferably in KJV for the language sensitivity it provides)
    The Odyssey
    The Wizard of Oz (with original illustrations)
    Little House on the Prairie
    Macbeth (way more fun than R&J – I was spellbound when I read it at 11) followed by Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (a very clever, wise satire of the play)
    Ender’s Game (and eventually Speaker for the Dead)
    The Picture of Dorian Grey
    Grimm’s Fairy Tales (as I read fairy tales to my kids, I realize that they do glean a lot of wisdom from them in a really powerful way)
    Brave New World (since we practically live in this book now – the question can we be happy if we’ve never been sad is important)
    . . . that’s off the top of my head.
    Well, you asked.

  14. 14
    Ronnie Haley says:

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (Middle school-adult). Love your idea for the quilt. Quilts,books…what’s there not to love!

  15. 15
    Laura says:

    I have to say Gone with the Wind because it shows that there are people that will love you even with all your faults and that sometimes what you’ve been chasing after isn’t what you want after all.

  16. 16
    Kaye Prince says:

    Definitely Anne of Green Gables – I can’t even begin to explain how that book (and then subsequently the rest of L.M. Montgomery’s works) affected my life. Rilla of Ingleside and Emily of New Moon are also tops when it comes to Montgomery.

    Also, Jane Eyre and something by Evelyn Waugh (maybe Decline and Fall or Brideshead Revisited).

  17. 17
    Jeanne says:

    Oh, where do I start? I spent my childhood buried in books, losing myself in words.

    The Giver
    The Secret Garden
    Little Women
    Anne of Green Gables
    The Neverending Story
    The Velveteen Rabbit
    Pippi Longstocking
    Peter Rabbit

  18. 18

    Like several others, I have to put in my vote for Where the Wild Things Are. I grew up loving that book and so did my kids.
    I love anything by Eric Carle too.
    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It’s more urban than most small kids books and it’s beautifully illustrated.
    Grimm fairy tales are so much a part of western culture, they should be included. My favorite story is better known in Europe: Mother Snow — about helpfulness, a good attitude, and greed.
    I devoured the Narnia books, but my kids did not. I think their version is the Harry Potter series. HP is the new fantasy classic.
    Ender’s Game, as suggested above is another one that is having an impact on the younger generation.
    Coming of Age in my generation was all about the Judy Blume books. Are You There God, it’s Me Margaret.
    Diary of a Young Girl and Animal Farm for the young teens.
    Something about the American experience, like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath.
    Catcher in the Rye
    Poe’s poetry

  19. 19
    Nicole says:

    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by EL Konigsburg (recently RIP)

  20. 20
    Rachel Thomson says:

    We are big on books at our house. Your idea sounds fantastic! Some of my favourite books for young readers are “Leo the Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus, “William’s Doll” by Charlotte Zolotow, “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes, “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” by Phillip C. Stead and “The Pumpkin Blanket” by Deborah Turney Zagwyn.
    I’m certain you will end up with a list of books that is huge! looking forward to the finished product.

  21. 21
    Phoebe says:

    There were so many important books in my childhood, but I have to say that for your daughter, she needs to read the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. They’re definitely young adult, but they give a young woman understanding and the realization that we really can do anything.

  22. 22
    Mandy says:

    A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
    The Town and the City, Kerouac
    My Mother’s House, Colette
    Impossible to say why or convince you Thomas, they are simply very close to my heart.
    My (now adult) children’s favourites that we read together:
    -Any books by Bill Peet – wonderful and still relevant
    -All Laura Ingalls Wilder, especially The Long Winter.

  23. 23

    I frequented the library as a child, we moved around a bit….I WISH I had known to keep a list. Now we own a lot of books but the tide is changing to having all the books available in the great digital library courtesy of wi-fi. I recalled enjoying Robinson Crusoe, I see now probably due to the creativity, I found a copy given to my husband at age 10 and re read it as an adult. I loved it all over again. I think your idea is wonderful and could be adapted in so many ways to other life lessons.

  24. 24
    Jessica Darling says:

    Definitely A Light in the Attic-
    Also, just going to list them off here…..
    Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret
    Forever by Judy Blume-amazing for coming of age and first love realizations, albeit 40 years old it is still so identifiable.
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings-the rape survivor’s ultimate guide to getting thru
    Invisible Monsters by Chuck Pahliniuk–changed my perception of what great writing is. It’s grotesque, it’s offensive and it’s downright disgusting at times–but it’s glorious. Changed my perception of beauty.
    Factotum by Charles Bukowski
    Catcher in the Rye- the essential hipster development
    Anything ee cummings
    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris- the funniest, satirical book I’ve ever read. Spit-take worthy.


  25. 25
    Mo says:

    So many wonderful books. Reading the whole series of Little House books made for a memorable cherished summer with my daughter a few years back. The Ramona books (Beverly Cleary) were a favorite when I was young and pretty funny to read as an adult with my kids. I was also a huge James Herriot fan. I read anything James Herriot when I was younger. The other one was the Paddington series. All of these books (except Ramona which had many parallels to my own life) took me to such wonderful places so unlike my own suburban growing up in the 70’s life.

  26. 26
    joan says:

    ‘Love You Forever’ by Robert Munch.
    This is the first book that comes to mind when I think of my children growing up. It helped them be sensitive and aware to their own stages of development(and still does even in their 20’s.) It gave me a point of reference as a parent to understand that things change and life goes on.

    ‘The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.
    So many lessons and so simply done. Great ‘redwork’ embroidery possibilities.

  27. 27
    Jessamie says:

    So many books shaped my childhood and I can’t wait to see what my daughter ends up reading and enjoying.
    Books I loved and can still see as films in my head today:
    Little Princess
    Little Lord Fauntleroy
    Back Home – Michelle Magorian – for a view of the Children sent to the US during the war from the Uk and how they tried to fit back in when they came home, and strength of character and creativity
    Midnights Children Salman Rushdie – for the beautiful precise text
    Far Pavilions – M M Kaye
    Kim – Rudyard Kipling
    The Hobbit
    Laura Ingalls WIlder books
    Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys series
    Lots and lots of Boarding school books
    Mr God this is Anna
    Danny the Champion of the World and all the Roald Dahl books
    Gerald Durrell Series – My Family and other animals
    Swiss Family Robinson – the idea of living in massive tree Houses was so cool as a child!

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