- America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates and illustrated by Chris Gall is a stunning book. The author is the original author of the poem turned song that even this Canadian knew as a child. The illustrator is her great-great grandnephew who pays homage to his family legacy and should feel proud of the results. Each page illustrates the lyrics beautifully while showcasing different parts of the country, the country’s history, and simple nostalgia. My son liked it, and particularly loved the page with 9-11 firefighters raising the flag , which brought tears to my eyes. At the end of the book there are short blurbs about each illustration for further information as well.
- ABC USAby Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book! Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations. Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well, school-age children could really benefit from it as well the 2 letters that stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge. How ever you use this it’s worth a look for certain.
- Celebrate the 50 States! by Loreen Leedy is not a story book about the 50 states but really an illustrated short form non fiction book about each and every state. Each page is broken into columns with 2 states ( all in alphabetical order) with a few historical facts, a basic map of the state and fun facts even parents probably don’t know! I love books like this and wasn’t surprised when my husband picked it up, leafed through it, and said “Hey this is a pretty cool book.” It is. It is far too detailed to hold a young preschooler’s attention but it a great reference book even for kids as young as 3, just don’t try to read the whole thing in one sitting with such a little one. Older kids will like the trivia question posed for each state and checking their answers at the back of the book.
- Wow! America! by Robert Neubecker has already been memorized by my son since I found it at the library on Sunday. I can’t blame him and in the 50 times I have read it in the past few days I have found something new and interesting each time. The story is simple, a baby runs away and her older sister goes after her and they see some of the wonderful things in the United States that make us all go “Wow!” Each page has a short title like “Wow Statue” for The Statue of Liberty, then a little more text to explain what the reader is looking at. The illustrations are detailed and we’ve played eye spy with this book more than a few times. This is a wonderful book and the map on the inside cover has been fun to play with as well, we like to find where various far off friends and family live. Go check this book out for sure.
- America: My Land, Your Land, Our Land by W.Nikola-Lisa is a really interesting concept for a book. The book showcases how The United States is made up of drastic opposites. Each page is devoted to two opposing features such as bright and dark, yours and mine, old and young. Then the illustrations reflect these opposites. What makes it so interesting is that there isn’t one illustrator, there are 14! Each showcasing their view of one of these opposites. My son enjoyed this book because he is all about separating and classifying things right now and the text was short and illustrations beautiful. Parents will probably enjoy it on a different level because many of the illustrations hold deeper meanings if you have some more mature knowledge about historical facts.
- How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A by Marjorie Priceman didn’t disappoint one bit. I was worried after falling in love with the previous book that this couldn’t live up to my expectations. It did! This time she wasn’t looking for ingredients for the pie, but rather materials for her tools. She gathered wood in Washington for her rolling pin, cotton in Louisiana for pot holders granite in New Hampshire for her pastry slab and more. What I wasn’t expecting of this book and loved was how she gathered natural resources and then processed them to make what she needed. I think this is a wonderful lesson about manufacturing and could be used for a launchpad for learning about so much more. Another gem I will be adding to my must-buy list.
- The National Anthem (True Books, American Symbols) by Patrica Ryin Quiri is a great book for school-age children ( 5-10) to learn about how the American flag and anthem came about. I learned a lot from this book and I have a minor in American History! It talks about the evolution from a poem to an anthem, with easy text, great photos and illustrations. I particularly liked seeing the author’s original handwritten poem. It humanizes the song for readers and makes it even more special.
- A is for America by Devin Scillian is a perfect mix of national pride and real facts. As a Canadian I always feel strange critiquing works like this, I don’t want to sound too critical and that won’t be the case with this wonderful book. There are plenty of fantastic reasons to celebrate America and this book lays them on the table from A to Z!
- How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson is sentimental, sweet and probably should be reviewed by an American. The reason I say that is that it’s written to pull at your heart strings, make you feel pride in your country and I am sure it succeeds when the reader is American. But the same way I wouldn’t expect an American to get choked up singing “O Canada” the way I do , I just don’t get the full effect. Strictly as a book this was a little too figurative for my son although he loved the illustrations of the dog and cat baking the pie and kept turning back to the page with rainbows. Older kids will recognize some of the text that is taken from America the Beautiful and will understand the figurative language, although may be put off by the illustrations that seem more geared towards little ones. I would love to hear from any Americans who have read this book to get your take!
- Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong is an awesome book. I am always awed by authors who can tackle complicated “adult” issues in the pages of a children’s book successfully. In this case, the issue is 1st generation identity and immigration, at least that’s my take. The little girl in this book is sulking around her parent’s store on the 4th of July. They are busy making Chinese food for customers she is sure won’t come, who would want Chinese food on such an American holiday is her rational. Of course there are layers about her connection to her ancestral culture and her own national pride. As a proud owner of a green card and a Canadian passport I relate to this story, sure the differences are as deep or as obvious to an outsider but unlike the previous book when this book ended with fireworks I got tingles of pride for my adopted country. Fantastic book- and my son liked it too.
- Hats off for the Fourth of July by Harriet Ziefert is a fantastic book for children who are just understanding what this holiday is all about. The book follows a parade with hints of what is next to come along, making the reader feel the same feelings real parade goer does as they stand on their tippy toes to see what is on it’s way. My son really enjoyed the book because it was packed with marching bands, motorcycles, and more. My son will see his very first 4th of July parade tomorrow and this book helped me explain what he’ll see and when we get home it will help us discuss what we saw. Useful and entertaining.
LOVE this!! We are studying the US this upcoming year & I will include this list with my post =-)