The Promise Quilt, written by Candice F. Ransom and illustrated by Ellen Beier, takes place in the rural South during the Civil War. When Addie loses her father to the war, her mother stuggles to feed the family and Addie’s dreams of attending school have to be put on hold. When the war was over, the school had no money to purchase books for the children and was going to close down. Addie’s mother has a brilliant idea to earn money: she stitches a quilt to auction off for money in town. There is one problem: there is not enough material to finish the quilt. Addie makes the difficult decision to surrender her father’s red shirt that she loves to the quilt. Although she lost her beloved memory of her father, she was able to afford to get books for the school.
This story is a good introduction to the idea of making decisions and the opportunity cost associated with choice. There is also an example of using money in smart ways. Addie finds one of her father’s silver coins and instead of spending it carelessly or saving it as a memory she chooses to buy seed that will feed her family. Addie learns the lesson that she can’t have everything she wants.
SOLs: K.7, 1.8, 2.9
- Choose what foods to buy with what money you have, and count how much change you have left!
- Create your own quilt using tangrams or other shapes!
- Use some ideas from this lesson about the Great Depression to teach students about bartering and needs vs. wants. The Promise Quilt can easily replace the book on the Great Depression.