If you follow me on bookish channels (goodreads) you’ll know I’m reading some war literature this fall, as I’m involved with a first-year seminar on the topic. I’m reading along with the students. This book, Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson, is not on the syllabus (ha!), but I ran across it when looking for WWI poster images. Although my children have outgrown most picture books now, I still feel the urge to collect anything that has to do with knitting or fiber.
The book tells the story of a brother and sister whose father is serving overseas. The sister embraces knitting so she can outfit her father. Characteristically, the boy declines to learn. Eventually, he and his friends are won over by a challenge from the girls team (“the Purl Girls”) about who can knit the most at a Knitting Bee in Central Park. The girls end up winning, but the boy gets over his gender issues and learns to make socks.
The story is based on real events; there was a Knit-In in NYC’s Central Park in 1918. Historic photos of children knitting during the war years adorn the end papers, and a helpful historical note is included at the end of the book.
All in all, this is a delightful story. The illustration style reminds me of the Curious George books. The book’s website says it’s appropriate for ages 5 and up. I wish I had some young readers to test this on…I’m not sure the war references would make so much sense for them (though certainly if the child had a relative in the armed forces, it might be more relevant). This would be a good addition to an elementary school social studies unit.
Here’s an actual Red Cross poster from World War I: