Today we’re looking at weaving around the world: from Ghana to Afghanistan, Guatemala to the Navajo in the southwest US. Explore these books with your children and then try one of the incredible weaving projects for kids! Learn how weaving is an age-old craft in multiple cultures around the world.
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Multicultural Books to Accompany Weaving Projects
Kunu’s Basket: A Story from Indian Island by Lee DeCora Francis (who is Penobscot and HoChunk) takes place in present day Maine, US. Kunu is a Penobscot boy who is trying to learn how to weave the baskets that the men in his tribal nation have made for generations. I love this book because the main character is a contemporary American Indian child, with a theme that all kids will appreciate: having the patience to keep trying during a difficult task (in this case weaving a basket).
Abuela’s Weave by Omar Castaneda takes place in Guatemala. This book also features an intergenerational family, this time Mayan, who weave elaborate and colorful designs to sell at the market. Guatemalan weavers are legendary for their intricate textiles, and have been weaving their clothing, blankets, and other pieces since pre-Columbian times- this book is a great introduction for your kids!
The next two books should be previewed before reading them to your kids, because they touch on quite sad situations (in addition to the weaving). Waiting for the Owl’s Call by Gloria Whelan and The Roses in My Carpets by Rukhsana Khan both feature Afghani weavers. Waiting for the Owl’s Call is quite a sad book, and will inspire conversations on freedom and child labor; the title comes from the girls waiting to hear the owl’s call, signaling nighttime and a stop to the day’s work. In The Roses in My Carpets, a young refugee from Afghanistan is living in a refugee camp in miserable conditions after his father was killed in the war. We see daily life in the camp in Pakistan, the warmth of their family, the happiness finally arrives when he goes to his job as an apprentice carpet weaver where he dreams of a peaceful life.
The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth, by Margaret Musgrove tells the legend of two Ghanian men who discover an intricate spider web in the forest, and who go home and create what is now known as kente cloth in Ghana. This would go so well with our kente cloth paper weaving craft!
The last three books discuss the epic weavers of the Navajo people, who live in the southwest of the United States in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and a small part of Colorado. The Goat in the Rug, by Charles L Blood is my favorite. Geraldine the goat is clipped by his Navajo owner, and then his hair is woven into a rug with care and pride.
Navajo Rugs and Blankets: A Coloring Book explains how Navajo raise the sheep, get the wool, dye it, and then weave it into colorful blankets and rugs. It is a great (and cheap!) compliment to this lesson. Learn more about the Navajo culture here.
The last of the 3 books on Navajo weaving is Songs from the Loom: A Navajo Girl Learns to Weave, by Monty Roessel shares the story of Jaclyn and her grandma, traditional Navajo stories, and also cultural information about the Navajo. This book is for students in at least second grade (age 7-8 and above), though the photographs will be enjoyed by all.
DIY Weaving Projects for Kids
Products that Encourage Weaving Projects for Kids
Beka, Floor stand (they have so many quality weaving products!)