The 4th of July is often a time of picnics, fireworks, and parades. These books remind readers of the patriotic symbols and songs that unite us as a country as we celebrate our shared liberty.
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee: How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights” by Claire Rudolf Murphy, Illustrated by Bryan Collier, 2014, Henry Holt, ages 7-12.
Americans express their patriotism through song in the lyrics for “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The tune most Americans recognize was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, but the song’s beginnings can be traced to England in the 1745, and then an adaptation made its way to colonial America and the fight for independence in 1776. Throughout America’s history additional verses have been created to represent the struggles of African Americans, the pursuit of votes for women and American Indians, and the dreams of many. Bryan Collier’s use of watercolor and collage creates illustrations that beautifully depict the people of many backgrounds who make American what it is today.
“Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty” by Pegi Dietz Shea, Illustrated by Wade Zahares, 2005, Square Fish, ages 6-11.
The idea for the Statue of Liberty, an American symbol of freedom and hope, was “born inside the heart” of Edouard de Laboulaye, a French law professor, who viewed her as a magnificent gift to American from one friend to another. Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the French artist and designer created Liberty with the face of his mother, Egyptian robes, and a crown of seven rays which represent the seven continents. In this book, bold colors, stylistic graphics, and informational text take readers sequentially through the creation, building, and unveiling of the statue in New York Harbor.
“I Pledge Allegiance” by Pat Mora & Libby Martinez, Illustrated by Patrice Barton, 2014, Alfred A. Knopf, ages 5-8.
Libby and her great aunt are both learning the Pledge of Allegiance, one to lead her class at school, and the other to pass her citizenship test and become an American citizen. The authors dedicate the book to all new citizens of the United States, and especially to their aunt, who became a U.S. citizen at the age of 70. Soft, colorful illustrations depict the love and support of family as both aunt and niece demonstrate their patriotism.
“America the Beautiful: Together We Stand” by Katharine Lee Bates, Illustrated by several children’s book artists, 2013, ages 6-11.
The story of America is told in three ways in this exquisite patriotic picture book. The text of the song “America the Beautiful” serves as the thread connecting presidential quotes and inspiring illustrations from ten distinguished children’s book artists. Each turn of the page reveals a unique interpretation of our freedom and traditions. End pages includes information about American symbols and national landmarks portrayed in the illustrations, along with a brief description of Katherine Lee Bates, the poet who wrote “America the Beautiful”.
Review and photo by Elizabeth Dobler