Donâ€™t just celebrate being an American on the Fourth of July, Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and other special days. Celebrate year round with children's books for younger kids up to seventh graders. These recommended children's books include books about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, a children's cookbook, poetry, tall tales, stories, an illustrated version of "America the Beautiful," and children's books about some of our important national symbols, like the Statue of Liberty.
Doreen Rappaportâ€™s Lady Liberty: A Biography covers the history of the Statue of Liberty, from the initial idea to the grand celebration upon its completion. The book, in picture book format, features large and dramatic watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations by Matt Tavares. I recommend Lady Liberty for children eight and older, younger if they have visited the Statue of Liberty. Because of the dramatically told story and the large amount of fascinating information in the book, I would also highly recommend Lady Liberty for teens and adults. (Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780763625306) Read my review ofLady Liberty: A Biography.
Our White House: Looking In Looking Out is a large book, with a great many entries by a variety of authors and illustrators, and including both historical fiction and nonfiction. While the book is sometimes confusing, it is filled with fascinating stories and facts, presented in a variety of ways.Â The book should be of interest to 9-14 year olds and to families looking for a book related to American history to enjoy together. (Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780763620677) Read my review of Our White House: Looking In Looking Out.
The powerful artwork by Chris Gall gives new meaning to the words of Katharine Lee Bates' poem "America the Beautiful." Yes, that's the same poem that was put to music by Samuel A. Ward and has become one of our country's most beloved songs. The artwork reminds me of WPA murals. According to the book's notes, the illustrations "...were done by hand engraving clay-coated board, then digitizing with Adobe Illustrator for adjustments and color."Â (Little, Brown and Co., 2004. ISBN: 0316737437) Read my review of America the Beautiful.Â
If you are looking for a nonfiction children's books about Independence Day for kids in elementary school, I recommend Celebrate Independence Day by Deborah Heiligman. The book is illustrated with high quality color photographs, accompanied by brief paragraphs that stress the history of Independence Day in the U.S. and Fourth of July traditions and festivities. (National Geographic Society, 2007. ISBN: 9781426300752) Read my review ofCelebrate Independence Day.
I recommend this book for 8-12 year olds, particularly on Constitution Day. Jean Fritz, who is known for her childrenâ€™s books about American history, wrote the book. Award-winning artist Tomie dePaola provided the entertaining illustrations. While the subject is serious and the content rich with information, the author and illustrator tackle the serious subject matter with enough humor to keep the readersâ€™ interest. (Putnam Publishing Group. 1987. ISBN: 0399214038)
As the subtitle states, this childrenâ€™s cookbook contains recipes for â€œFabulous Food and Fascinating Facts from All 50 States.â€ For each state, thereâ€™s a map, illustrations of several state symbols, information about the state, fun food facts about the state, plus a recipe related to the state. Recipes include key lime pie from Florida and Swedish meatballs from Minnesota. The cookbook also contains sections on cooking skills and safety rules. (John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 9780471358398)
This nonfiction book contains the full text of the Declaration of Independence inscribed by Sam Fink and accompanied by his witty illustrations. The book also contains a four-page 1748-1776 events chronology, a four-page glossary, and a page of recommended online and print resources. I recommend it for children 10-14 and would include it on your Constitution Day and Citizenship Day booklist. (Scholastic Inc., 2000. ISBN: 9780439407007)
The nine stories in Mary Pope Osborneâ€™s 115-page collection of American tall tales feature, among others, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, and Sally Ann Thunder. A U.S. map shows the location of each tale. Each story includes historical notes and contains a number of colorful wood engravings by Michael McCurdy. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. ISBN: 0679800891)
Delno C. West and Jean M. West provide a brief look at 15 different American symbols, each illustrated with a handsome woodcut by Christopher Manson. The symbols include the American flag, Smoky the Bear, the Liberty Bell, and Uncle Sam. While I would not have selected all of the symbols chosen, Iâ€™d recommend the book. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. ISBN: 0689820437)
This book of poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins is divided into sections representing different regions of the U.S., each with a map and information about the states. The illustrations, paintings by Stephen Alcorn, and the poetry, such as Nikki Giovanniâ€™s â€œKnoxville, Tennessee,â€ create a sense of place for the reader. (Simon & Schuster, 2000. ISBN: 0689812477)
This book is illustrated with paintings, photographs, and other works of art from the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The artwork and the poetry stress the history and diversity of our country. Artists and poets include Thomas Hart Benton, Roger Shimomura, Langston Hughes, and Tato Laviera. Recommended for children 8 and up. (Hyperion Press, 1999. ISBN: 0786813601)