Read To Me Pillows: Dinosaurs, Peppa Pig, Minnie Mouse, Pittsburgh Penguins, Princesses, and "Sew Much More!"
Last year, I began my first year of retirement from teaching by creating "Read to Me" pillows. I was advised by former colleagues to take a trip, get out of town, have some fun, and take your mind off not starting a new school year. (Contrary to what some may think, most teachers do enjoy the excitement of opening a new school year, and welcoming another group of boys and girls.) I admit, I had my annual "back to school preparation anxiety dreams" last year, (and this year), too. I guess when you've done something for 37 years every August, it is just embedded in your personal calendar.
Instead going on vacation for the week the boys and girls returned to school, I decided to have some fun with my sewing machine, fabric scraps, and promote reading! I stumbled upon an idea, to create a pocket pillow titled "READ", with fun fabrics. The pillows have a carrying handle. The purpose of the pillow was for a child or adult to put a book in the pocket as the signal for a nightly or daily "Read To Me" time. The pillow could also be a traveling book bag to grandparent, babysitter, or aunt's and uncle's home for sleep overs and the like. It could also just be a place for a child to carry around beloved books and approach any unassuming adult with the chant: "Read it again!"
I wanted to continue to promote the love of reading! The idea took off, and I made more pillows for Christmas gifts, birthdays, baby showers, and celebrations. (Click HERE to see more pillow posts.)
This year, when the start of school came around, I continued the tradition of creating some "new" pillows. Take a look at some of the fun new Read To Me Pillows.
Let's give a "ROAR FOR READING" with Dinosaurs! I had a lot of fun with this one. I have learned so much about dinosaurs from the little boys that have entered my classroom doors. Ryan, at St. Germaines School in Bethel Park, PA, was my first teacher. He was in my first grade classroom and was our resident expert on dinosaurs. Ryan shared many books with me and helped me with the pronunciation and identification of dinosaurs. It was always so gratifying when a child chose to share a favorite book with me. (Side note: Ryan would be in his forties now, but I still remember him!)
This Disney Princess pillow is accented with "READ" in purple iron on glitter letters. I love using the iron-on glitter letters and I look for sparkly fabric and use it whenever a pillow calls for it. In this case the turquoise swirl fabric is adorned with glitter, too. I particularly like the print on this fabric, as it has the wording: "Princess Rule!" and "Dare to Dream!"
The back of the Disney Princess pillow has more sparkle fabric. The striped fabric and turquoise swirl fabric are glitter fabrics.
Let me introduce the Minnie Mouse I Love to Read, Read To Me Pillow! This pillow was made with some fabrics from the Disney licensed fabric collection. There are some really fun licensed fabrics available and I have a great time sewing with them. When I can, I try to find them on sale, as most licensed fabric does come at a little higher price per yard.
The back of the pillow has fun polka dots and striped material. Many of the pillows will be one of a kind, as it all depends on the availability of fabric. I often fall in love with fabric, and am so disappointed when it is no longer available. Then, I have to find new fabric swatches to love!
Here in Pittsburgh, we love our sports' teams. I made the "Let's Go Pens!" Read To Me Pillow for a young man. Yes, the "READ" is done in black glitter iron-on letters. It really adds a great sparkle that isn't as evident in the photo. I want to do a Steeler Read To Me Pillow, too. I am waiting for the fabric to go on sale. NFL licensed fabric is priced according the the league marketing.
The back of the "Let's Go Pens!" Read To Me Pillow even has a nod to the officials with the black and white striping. The gold and white polka dot fabric on black, is also a glitter fabric.
Here is the ever lovable, Peppa Pig Read To Me Pillow, star of her own television show and very popular with the toddler set. I vowed when I retired from teaching that I would keep learning new things. Well, writing this blog, expanding my knowledge of technology, and making these pillows has helped keep me current with popular television and movie characters. People will ask me, can you do--"Peppa Pig?" Can you do--"Sophia the First Princess?" My standard reply is, let me see if there is a fabric line or tee shirt that I can turn into a pillow. I find myself Googling these characters like Peppa Pig, to learn about them. The learning, truly, never ends!
I used a very fun cupcake fabric on the front and back of Peppa Pig Read to Me Pillow. I love this fabric and I look forward to using it on other pillows, not necessarily featuring Peppa Pig. It would make a great birthday pillow. I also have some fun polka dot color fabric that matches the Peppa Pig fabric, that would be "sew" much fun to make up.
Those are some of my latest READ TO ME PILLOWS. I have more on my cutting mat. I have material for some dog themed reading pillows and I'm planning on doing a Pete the Cat pillow.
I have a series of Dr. Seuss themed pillows from "The Cat in the Hat" and "One Fish, Two Fish!" and "Green Eggs and Ham". Have you read Dr. Seuss' back story? Dr. Seuss’ editor Bennett Cerf bet him he couldn’t write a book using 50 or fewer words. The result is 1960’s “Green Eggs and Ham.” He created a whole new world of reading fun with his made up characters, with made up names, and nonsensical rhyming words. The repetition and rhyming, not to mention the giggles, are just what a young reader needs to become an accomplished reader. Dr. Suess, Bill Martin, Jr., Eric Carle, Ian Falcon, are just a few of my favorite children's authors that are my heroes for fostering the love of reading and language in young children. Now, I get to play with their licensed fabric and make pillows!
Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Read To Me Pillow. It only contains these 50 words: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you
When I taught, my head was full of children. Since, retiring, I've challenged myself to keep learning and creating. Teaching was a wonderful outlet for both of those passions. My head is still full of children and the 37 years of memories...but my head is now also filled with fabric!
If you are interested in having a pillow made or purchasing something that you have seen in this post, please contact me at email@example.com. The cost for a pillow cover is $35.00* and if you are in the Pittsburgh area, I am able to provide a pillow insert for an additional $5.00. (That cost is my cost.) If you are outside of the Pittsburgh area, I recommend watching for sales at JoAnn Fabrics. Walmart also carries foam inserts at reasonable prices. I try to buy fabric on sale and pass the savings on to you and your cherished young readers. A special order* or licensed fabric may incur additional costs.
I have compiled a list of some of my personal favorite children's picture books. This list is included in the pocket of each Read To Me Pillow sold. Click HERE for a copy.
This post is longer than I anticipated, but once I get started on the topic of reading to children, there is no stopping me! I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you have enjoyed reading to children, making memories, and instilling the love of reading and learning!
paraI wanted to share some of my personal favorite pictures books for children. This is by no means an all inclusive list. It is a sampling. I am particularly drawn to well illustrated books with a good story line. Some of these are oldies, but goodies. Others have a more recent publication date. I encourage adults to have fun reading to a child. Some of my favorite memories are sharing books with my Mom and Dad. My dad could do great voices and he was the best big, bad,wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. Then there was the afternoon we all fell into laughter with the golden book: Teeny Tiny Woman. As I recall it, it was one of my sister, Sandy's favorite books. Once again, she had requested that my mom read the book. The repetition of the main line of the "teeny tiny woman in her teeny tiny house, with her teeny tiny dog" read by my mother, just cracked us all up. What a great time giggling over the repetitive language of a book. Click HERE or on the images above to download a pdf file.
Here is what is really going on when...
....a child ask you to read a book "again" for the umpteenth time: The child is in the beginning stages of reading. Soon, the child will "read" the book to you. They will have it memorized and be able to paraphrase it or "read" it from memory. I've had more than one beginning reader proudly tell me, "I can read this with my eyes closed!" This is an ability to be recognized as the beginning stages of reading. The child is grasping the importance of reading and the story line. (You may be fed up with reading the book and want to shout, "NO MORE!", but know that the child is on his/her way to being a reader. Celebrate it!
Here is what is really going on when...
...children are exposed to rhyming texts: Nursery rhymes and picture books with predictable rhythm and rhyming patterns are the fun parts of language development for the young child. Think about the toddler who is having fun with language and repeats the same "fun" word over and over. This is all part of language development. The future reader can be helped on their way by exposing them to books and rhymes that have a predictable pattern. Exposure to books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom! celebrate the joy of rhythm and rhyme and a child's natural language development for the sounds of language. The child is developing phonemic awareness.
Here is what is really going on when...
...reading the silliness of "Hop on Pop" or "Green Eggs and Ham" and so many more: The books of Dr. Seuss are an absolute genius! He was challenged to write a children's book with a minimal amount of words that would delight children. He succeeded in a big way and has been delighting children for years. His books combine the repetition of a few words in very silly ways that leave children giggling and practicing the art of reading. These books can build a child's confidence, fluency, and love of learning. They also incorporate rhyme with whimsy. What a great combination!
Here is what is really going on when...
...you read to a child. You model reading. You model reading as something that can be enjoyed and shared. If you are cuddled together reading a book, that adds an even greater message about reading. I once knew a little boy who wanted to "get cozy" with me. He was about four years old. "Getting cozy" was code for snuggling up and reading a book together.
My recommendation: Get cozy with reading a book to a child and watch the love of reading and ultimately the "skill" of reading evolve! To quote and paraphrase Dr. Seuss, I encourage you to:
Read on a boat.
Read on a goat.
Read on a train.
Read in the rain.
Read with a fox.
Read in a box.
Read to a mouse.
Read to a house.
Read here or there.
Read ANYWHERE!...with a child.
I have had a lot of fun sewing my Read to Me Pillows. I love children’s books and it was one of the highlights of my career as a teacher to share books with boys and girls. My kindergarten teacher wrote on my report card, “She loves books.” I did and I still do.
I’ve been experimenting with fabric combinations and production techniques to make the one-of-a-kind Read to Me pillows more affordable. (I like promoting good books by using licensed fabrics from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, and Ian Falconer, but they are more expensive and less likely to be found on sale.)
Here are some of the newest pillows with a few changes I have made.
I have begun making some Read to Me pillows based upon the one and only Dr. Seuss. He really “got” the young child’s love of language, rhyme, and pure silliness. I have started mixing licensed fabric with other fun fabrics. It’s actually been fun scouring the aisles of JoAnn Fabrics looking for “Seuss-like” fabric. My thinking process goes something like this: “bright colors…fun shapes…glittery…swirly…” and eventually whatever strikes my fancy and what I think a child might like.
I’ve also enjoyed adding extra pockets, because little ones love pockets. These too, take extra time. I have eliminated them in my latest designs and stuck with the one, generous book pocket. After all, that is the most important one.
I want to provide a quality product that is durable. Each pillow still has the extra stitching and quilting.
The pillows must be washable, so I prefer to sew a zipper into the back, instead of an envelop pillow flap.
There will always be glitter! Glitter is just so much fun. This pillow has swirls of glitter on the lollipops and in the star background. Of course, the pillows will have "READ" in big glittery letters. I also found the the purple glitter shows up much better of this fabric than the silver. What can I say--I am always learning! (This photo doesn't do all of the glitter justice.) Please note, the iron-on glitter used, doesn't shed.)
I want to bring you quality products with a good value.
I am selling these Read to Me Pillows on Etsy in OurWelcomingHome shop. (Click on: OurWelcomingHome, and you will be taken directly to the link.) Currently the shop inventory is low, as these pillows have all sold. I am busy designing again and I do take requests. I have enjoyed personalizing pillows to the interest of individual children. The Red, White, and Blue Patriotic Flag pillow, Planets in Our Solar System, Nutcracker pillow, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pillow were all personal requests. Most of the pillow covers are $35.00. Please email or send me a request in the comments section and custom orders can be discussed.
More "Read to Me" Pillows
One of the many joys this project has given me, is hearing about the reaction of children who have received one of my pillows. It seems the zipper in the back is of huge interest and some little ones are choosing to open the zipper and put books in the back, too! My great niece likes to put her toys to sleep on her Olivia pillow. One set of grandparents is encouraging their grandchildren to use them when going back and forth to grandparents' homes and packing a favorite books to share. I am hoping these bring smiles, giggles, and so many good times with sharing a book!
Coming Soon: Photos of Green Eggs and Ham! Read to Me Pillows