A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance

ABA Pick of the Lists;
Bank Street College Best Books of the Year

My friends’ daughter was five when her grandmother died. Shortly after the memorial service, Rosa asked, “Now do we make a quilt?”

Her grandmother had died from complications of diabetes, not AIDS, but Rosa lived in a home where pamphlets about the NAMES Quilt were strewn among stacks of books and newspapers. Rosa knew that rustling fabric helps turn memories into words. She yearned to try to thread a needle.

Knowing how Rosa found comfort in scissors and fabric, I thought about children who haven’t seen the NAMES Quilt. Reading, like sewing, can be a good way to come together, so I began to write a picture book that answers the question “What can we do when someone dies?” with “We make a quilt.” Words and scraps of cloth may seem small, but putting them together makes them larger. In A Name on the Quilt, I wanted to show how one family begins to heal as they work with love and fabric.


A Quilt panel is a tribute to someone who died. Kids may want to give examples of other ways someone may be remembered: by planting trees, writing letters, or keeping a small, special gift. You may want to discuss how memories help the grieving process. How is the Quilt different and the same as national memorials such as the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, Holocaust Memorial or Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.?

Of course any kind of quilt-making is a great way to bring together math skills and art. Sewing is about the only time I use my high school geometry! While quilts made with cloth are comforting and long-lasting, quilts from paper may be made, too. In A Name on the Quilt, the artist, Tad Hills http://www.tadhills.com/, put each painting in a box, so that all the pictures add up to a sort of quilt. A librarian may help collect the many picture books featuring quilts.
 To learn more and view Quilt panels, please visit the Aids Memorial Quilt and the NAMES Project Foundation, www.aidsquilt.org.

Books on the back shelf are available in libraries, through dealers of used books, or may be found at Amazon.com.


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