With the 4th of July right around the corner, I thought I would highlight some books you and your kids can read that celebrate America. I’ve selected books about the American Revolution and Constitution, but also wanted to point out some books about our beautiful country.
If I were to recommend just one book, it might have to be They Called Her Molly Pitcher by Anne Rockwell. It is the story of Molly Hayes who followed her husband to war during the American Revolution. The story was vivid and engaging. Just listen to this description of Valley Forge: “It was so cold that soldiers had to stand on their hats in the snow to keep their feet from freezing. Their shoes had holes in them from tramping over miles of rough and stony ground.” The history was rich and you learned a lot not only about Molly Pitcher, but other key figures of the Revolutionary War. I highly recommend this book for 6-9 year olds.
If you are looking for a short, quick book to explain why we celebrate Independence Day, this is it. In 1776 by Jean Marzollo is a great introduction to the American Revolution for younger kids (ages 3-6).
Liberty or Death: The American Revolution by Betsy Maestro is a beautifully illustrated history of the American history, wonderful for slightly older kids 7+ or so. I would recommend this if you are planning to study the American Revolution, but it’s not as quick of a read if you’re just wanting to pick up a quick read for Independence Day. That said, I liked this book so much, I bought it so we’d have it for our homeschool. It is 60 pages. Each page had at least one (if not more!) illustrations that made this book really engaging. Highly recommended.
John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith Get to know some of America’s familiar historic figures as kids. This is a humorous book about John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. It definitely made me chuckle and I really liked the way the book pulled together at the end with his TRUE/FALSE section. Some of those made me laugh out loud! I would recommend this for ages 6-10.
Shh We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz takes a humorous look at the hot summer days when the Constitution was written.So much of the time, we focus our energy on sharing the history of the American Revolution… details about the Boston Tea Party which led to the war or the struggles of Valley Forge. This book explains why the story of our country was not over after the war ended. It took more than that for the states to be truly United. This book is a longer read (60 pages), but it’s one we’ll add into our homeschool when we cover this time period again. Ages 7-10 or so.
I had a hard time deciding whether the Molly Pitcher book (above) or this one was my favorite from this group. I went with Molly Pitcher because it explains so well what the soldiers went through for our nation to become independent from Britain. But then, this book truly celebrates the people that have helped make our country what it is. Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama is a tribute to 13 great Americans and the ideals that have shaped America. It celebrates the creativity of Georgia O’Keefe, the bravery of Jackie Robinson to turn fear to respect. It shares the stories of Sitting Bull, Billie Holiday, Jane Addams, Maya Lin, and more. This book is a quick read, but definitely one I plan to read to the kids more than once. I really loved the message of this book that each one of us can pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.
Most of us know Woodie Guthrie’s tune, This Land is Your Land. This picture book has beautiful illustrations and is a great book to share (and sing!) with kids ages 3-8. I’ve always loved the song and the illustrations in this book really helped bring the song to life.
Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West by Lita Judge In this breathtaking books, you read about the adventures of Thomas Moran who encountered some of the wonders of Yellowstone. His detailed drawings, paintings, and journal entries helped convince the U.S. Congress to make Yellowstone our first national park. This is perfect to read this time of year because Tom set out with the expedition at the beginning of July.
Here are some of Thomas Moran’s paintings (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons). Now don’t you want to pack up the family and head to Yellowstone?!
In the book, Tom befriended the expedition’s photographer William Jackson. Here are a couple of his photos from that expeditions:
There’s another wonderful book about Yellowstone that I highly, highly recommend called When the Wolves Returned by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. This is a stunning collection of nature photos that tell the story of how the disappearance of the wolves almost destroyed the natural balance of Yellowstone. I can’t rave about this book enough. It shows how truly delicate the balance of nature is and how the disappearance of one animal had drastic repercussions… right down to the trees in the forest! The photos of all the animals–wolves, coyotes, moose, elk, badgers and more– were simply beautiful.
Have you heard of Davy Crockett? What about Susanna Dickinson? This book based on a real but little known woman named Susanna Dickinson who survived the battle at the Alamo in San Antonio. Susanna of the Alamo is by John Jakes.
Brad Meltzer has an entire series about famous Americans including I am Abraham Lincoln . These books that include I am Amelia Earhart and I am Rosa Parks are written for ages 5-8.They inspires us all to become heroes.
If your family can’t make it Mt. Rushmore, maybe you can read about the Parker Family’s adventures. This 96-page book would make a good read aloud as they encounter fossil hunters illegally poaching bones. Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Wind Cave Going Underground (Adventures with the Parkers) is by Mike Graf. He has other Adventure with the Parkers books including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks: In the Land of Standing Rocks.
Steven Kellogg has a number of American tall tales that my kids have enjoyed like Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, Pecos Bill, and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett.
Our family also enjoys the musical, 1776, which is on DVD.
You might be interested in the other posts in this series: Summer Reads: Children’s Literature to Share with Your Kids. Join us next Saturday for the next post in this series.
And be sure to come let us know your kids’ favorite books over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page!