“Read It again Nana, read it again” said my grandson after I finished reading a book to him this past week. One of my favorite things to do with the grand kids is to sit and read a story then discuss the book to see what they remember, ask them questions, point out objects, colors and numbers to name, etc. Since they are 1 and 2 we can’t go into too much detail re plot, characters, etc but we can talk about ideas and relate them to their daily lives. There are so many teaching moments in reading a book and young brains are so ready and anxious to learn. I work with “Project Read” in my community and often think, ” Wouldn’t it have been great if someone had taken the time to help these students acquire reading skills when they were young?” Everyone who participates in the project wears a big smile as they mouth through the words of the story. Not being able to read is very limiting to one’s life. Seems every student has a story about why they never learned to read, a learning disability, had to leave school as a child to help support the family, recurrent illness preventing them from attending school, no educated person in their family to help them read or who valued education, foreign born, etc – however they all feel it’s never too late to learn the skill of reading.
While on vacation in Oregon this past summer I spent lots of time visiting the sites with my son and his girlfriend but still found time to do some sewing between the highlights of our trip. My son’s girlfriend is a second grade teacher in Eugene, Oregon and needed bags to hold books for students with different reading levels in her classroom. She also wanted to include activities related to the book to help reinforce reading and comprehension skills. I ended up making 30 bags and have to say once I got into assembly line mode could make a bag in 15-20 minutes. I used this pattern with her project using only one side opening and designed the size to fit the largest book that would be used in the bag. Because I have lots of really good books in nearly brand new condition as well as some brand new ones ,my next gift project uses books.
Since I am now skilled at making book bags ! ( making 30 helps with that skill) I decided to make yes – more bags, add a book and include learning activities. Activities could be designed for any age but if a bag was for a young child, the parent would need to direct the activities. Activities can be found on web searches for specific books, for coloring pages and the library is a great resource for ideas. Since we are on the theme of mittens and with winter just around the corner I chose the book “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. There are many retold versions of this book with different animal characters being part of the plot but the story still remains the same. So for this project I made a book bag of a material I had on hand that had a woodsy theme to it. ( trees). The book bag is 12 by 18 inches approximately when finished. I aimed the level of the activities for the preschool /K/grades 1 and 2 levels. In the bag will go the book , a pair of mittens I made, a few mitten activities , a list of ideas for the parent to discuss with the child, a pencil and sharpener, glue, crayons, scissors and a folder with paper to color and write on.
The project is easy to assemble and make and inexpensive. It is a fun way for a child to learn to read and develop the love of reading as they talk, write or act out the story, a time to interact with friends and family and something that can be used over and over again. So join me in making some gift book bags for Christmas and give a child the gift of reading. Make some for a child in your family or community and for the children on the Rez. Share your ideas with us. And if time allows volunteer in your schools or community to help a child or adult become a reader. It only requires an hour a week of your time but a gift that lasts a life time. Thanks from Sew For Kids.