|Authors:||Julie Jerslid Roth|
Two years ago, a knitting mentor at our school brought me this treasure for my “Books That Teach” collection. She thought of me, she said, because the book’s heroine reminded her of the third graders in our school’s Knitting Club. With nine beautiful illustrations on the first page alone, the reader quickly finds out that “Nell knits . . . . a lot.” She’s also a very good listener because Danny Tucker says she sounds like a cricket when she talks. So Nell rarely talks. She just sits and listens.
But Nell’s doesn’t knit to pass the time. She does it for service. She makes blankets, scarves, mittens, and caps for babies, family members, and soldiers – all before she knits for herself. The town’s mayor notices her generosity and gives her a medal at the county fair. Nell ultimately uses her skill to model her credo – service above self – and find her true voice. Then, in a fun twist, she teaches Danny Tucker to knit with a purpose.
The book’s theme nicely parallels our school’s service-learning project to knit baby hats to save newborn lives in developing countries. Each hat is accompanied by a handwritten note to the mother and baby as well as a letter to President Obama, asking him to join in helping reduce the infant mortality rate. Service-learning projects empower students because they’re purposeful and meaningful.
I wonder what idea this charming tale might unravel with your little hand-crafters.
Barbara Gruener is a school counselor at Westwood Elementary in Friendswood, TX, a finalist in the 2008 CEP National School of Character Award.
For more information on Westwood’s CHARACTER COUNTS! program, visit its website.