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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

The textures and textiles all around us

July 22, 2011

It's all around us. We wear it, walk on it, and admire it. It comes in different colors, made with different materials and assorted textures. And it often reflects who we are, where we live, our climate, culture, traditions, even our beliefs.

I'd never really thought about any of this until I visited the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Textiles are ubiquitous — everything from clothing to curtains to art — with lots in between. And to explore them at the museum is a really cool thing (literally and figuratively) to do on a hot summer day!

There's a Learning Center filled with things to touch and experiment with, ideal for sharing with children and sure to elicit a few "wow" moments.

The current exhibition, Green: The Color and the Cause provided inspiration for different art projects that might be done at home or in the classroom — all the while suggesting intriguing new ways to look at things.

Stories, like textiles, are found around the world. "Cinderella" is just one of many such tales. Though details vary, you know the basic saga of the under-appreciated girl who winds up on top. It is found in hundreds of cultures.

Paul Fleischman's Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella (Holt) fuses elements of the tale from many traditions, which are reflected in illustrations that echo the texture, color, and design of the many cultures from which a particular piece comes — much like a walk through the Textile Museum.

Field trips are educational and invigorating. Whether during the school year or camp groups or as a family outing, the up-close-and-personal exploration is a lot of fun — and can be enhanced by, followed up with, or even preceded by books. All cool stuff for hot days.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943