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African American Children's Literature and the Quilting Trope

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  1. Introduction
  2. Quilts during the period of enslavement
  3. Guiding slaves to freedom
  4. Books that are a part of African American children's literature
  5. The 'quilt of night': The freedom and safety of night
  6. The Quilt and family life
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

African American children's literature is rich with significant themes and tropes that educators can effectively use to teach about important events, figures, and historical facts in a culturally sensitive way to a diverse classroom of students. It is extremely important that teachers have a thorough understanding of the particular tropes that they may choose to dissect and teach from a selection of African American Children's Literature. In addition it is extremely important for educators to be familiar with African American history in order to appropriately relate the valuable ideals and themes from within the selected literature.

[...] Hannah's story in this African American children's literature book combined with Williams' personal chronicles give the quilt trope a historical context from which to understand and teach. The Secret to Freedom (2001) by Marcia Vaughan is yet another example of the quilt guiding slaves and their families to freedom using symbols that are stitched onto the quilt. This story begins with a little girl asking her Great Aunt Lucy why she keeps an old scrap of cloth on the wall of her kitchen. [...]

[...] Another example of how quilts in African American children's literature are used as symbolism in the escape of slaves can be seen in the book Under the Quilt of Night (2002) by Deborah Hopkinson where a young girl helps lead her family to freedom. As they travel through the woods, they see a quilt and realize that it is safe to knock on the door of the house. Once inside, they are safe and are able to eat and sleep. [...]

[...] African American literature is rich with the trope of quilts and quilting. The literature discussed above exemplifies how quilts have been an essential part of family life dating back generations. This fact still holds truth today. African American literature above also creates a lens through which readers are able to see quilts and their function throughout the period of enslavement. It is crucial for educators to thoroughly understand not only the trope of quilting, but also African American literature in order to teach important themes and tropes within the real context from which they come. [...]

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