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Growing Reader


Making Magic Together: Craft and Creativity Books for the Whole Family

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Photo credit: Cultura/Frank and Helena, Cultura Exclusive/Getty Images

I’ve always had crafty inclinations; after I became a mother, they kicked in BIG TIME. I blogged, I swapped, I made lots of things, and bought even more books. Many of those books were “for later.” For those magical, well-lit moments of sitting alongside my daughter, sewing matching skirts, knitting finger puppets, or smiling at each other as we painted on opposite sides of an easel. As my daughter grew, I collected even more high hopes that, more often than not, fell flat. Poor planning, or too much planning got in the way and left us both disappointed and vaguely disgruntled. (Especially me.) It wasn’t simply that I wanted to fill our home with cute handmade items, it was also, as Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever point out in Make Stuff Together, that “crafting builds connection, fosters creativity.” I really, really wanted to be THAT kind of mom.

But those high hopes of perfection meant that too often I approached these projects with too much of my own vision, without leaving enough room for my daughter’s. Yes, it’s about good planning (like making sure you have supplies, time, and space), but I’ve learned it’s also about improvisation, and following a sometimes messy path that is more a celebration of process than product.

So, with summer upon us, and with it more time to create, play, and learn as a family, I’d like to share some of my favorite guides to doing just that. And there’s always the possibility of plenty of cute handmade items in the end, too.

The Kid and I have cleaned up our craft area and bookmarked pages and pages of ideas for summer crafting fun. We’ve pored over our vintage craft book collection and marveled at some of the anachronistic language and art in 30s, 50s, 60s and 70s-era project instructions. And we both realize that this time, right now, of planning, dreaming, and imagining together, is a vital part of making, as important as finishing matching library tote bags with cute front pockets for our cards. So we’ll breathe and enjoy it. And maybe the bags, too. If we finish them.