November artist combines love of reading, quilting

In life, Jean Linden, whose works will be on display at the Chester Library next month, combined her love of reading and passion for quilting, inspiring her students to “Read It and Quilt It.”

“I hope that it can be inspirational to people in the community,” Linden’s daughter, Amanda Moody, said. She hopes the display inspires different artistic pursuits and encourages literacy, “because that was the original goal of her quilts,” Moody said.

A sampling of Linden’s many quilts will be on display in the Chester Library from Nov. 6-30. An opening reception, sponsored by the Chesterfield Center for the Arts Foundation, will take place Saturday, Nov. 6, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the library’s Maud Hurt Meeting Room.

Linden, a retired school librarian from Queens, New York, was best known for her work at Public School 48, where she used quilting as an incentive to encourage her elementary students to read, according to information from the library. She and her students created 22 colorful and educational quilts under the slogan “Read It and Quilt It.”

After retiring, Linden made educational quilts for her grandchildren, as well as quilts about her travels. She moved to Chester in 2005 and continued to inspire children to read at C.C. Wells Elementary School, where she was a regular storyteller until she died at age 93 in 2010.

Moody said the show would be Linden’s second.

“She enjoyed displaying her work because she was anxious to get other people interested in doing similar things,” Moody said.

Of her mother’s quilts, Moody’s favorite was the clever turtle quilt, which spoke to her because of “the storytelling aspect of it,” she said. Moody said her mother’s gift wasn’t just the sewing, but being able to “bring out these children … many of whom were struggling academically.”

Moody said there was one student, a girl in fifth grade, who couldn’t stop sucking her thumb. Linden got the girl to sew, and she simply forgot about it.

Moody, who has lived in Chester for 17 years, didn’t inherit her mother’s sewing prowess, but she is a teacher in Chesterfield County. Her mother inspired her to believe that every child can learn, and to never stop looking for ways to help a child learn, she said.


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