The 4th of July is just a week away, and I decided to put together a set of books to help us learn a bit more about the holiday, and the history behind it. Big A., is very interested in historical stories if they are told in an interesting way (a bit like his mom), so I wanted to find fun stories that were accessible for my little guys, but also show the meaning and history behind the celebrations.
I also did my best to look for stories that offered many different kinds of diversity. I tried to find stories that featured diversity of setting, ways of celebrating, and of race and ethnicity.
It took a little investigation, but I think I found some good ones…
The Story of America’s Birthday – written by Patricia A. Pingry illustrated by Meredith Johnson
This is a short and simple book that makes the connection between the Declaration of Independence, The American Revolution, and Independence Day celebrations remarkably accessible to preschoolers.
This fun and gentle text shows diverse and loving families enjoying themselves in all sorts of traditional 4th of July celebrations in sites all over the country.
This bright, colorful, and fun text tells the story of Betsy Ross, and the making of the American flag for young children. A “Betsy Ross” star cutting activity ends the book.
This is the story of one extended family’s 4th of July house party. Full of and familiar family characters, situations, and ways of celebrating that any family can relate to. The illustrations add to family warmth of this book.
A work of historical fiction, with an emphasis on the history, this book brings the story of our county’s founding to life for kids.
This book captures the excitement and fun of a 4th of July Parade in a small Northeastern town with rhyming text and humorous illustrations.
This book is a gem, and it tells the true story of the great challenges and adventures of the historical document that paved the way for the freedoms in this country. As someone who has an interest in American history, there were many things in this book that I did not know, and it reads like an adventure story.
Hello America! – written and illustrated by Martha Day Zschock and illustrated by
This colorful and playful board book for young children follows a baby eagle and his mother on a trip through America’s historic places. The cartoon eagles are fabulous and the Littles love it!!!
This is a very different kind of 4th of July story, and it features a first generation Chinese American child whose immigrant parents run a restaurant. This story beautifully captures the cultural difficulties that often face the children of immigrants, and demonstrates that the combining of different cultures is truly what creates American culture.
America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Wendell Minor
America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Robert Sabuda
America the Beautiful – poem by Katherine Lee Bates and illustrated by Neil Waldman
Each of these four books contains the text of the beautiful poem written by Katherine Lee Bates, and which was first published for Independence Day in 1885. This poem, focusing on the beauty of the United States, is illustrated in four very different ways in these four picture books. I find them all beautiful, and all interesting. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I am a sucker for the elaborate paper engineering done in Sabuda’s book. To call it a pop-up seems demeaning, because it is truly amazing. Just one of these books, or the collection of all four together, could encourage a creative family to document their own America The Beautiful in an artistic way.
I’ve also found some really creative and fun holiday projects and activities that we are trying this week…
Here is a fun flag hand print art activity from b-inspired Mama! We are going to try this by cutting out paper hands and painting on them, rather than doing the painting directly on the kids’ hands because Big A. doesn’t want the paint on his hands, and hand painting is a little difficult for me to manage with all three right now.
Here is a collection of great flag inspired crafts from Kids Activities Blog …
A super cute idea for making red, white and blue t-shirts at home from Cutesy Crafts…
Here is another large collection of fun looking craft ideas from All Kids Network. We are going to try the star guy!
I hope you find a book, or an activity that helps your family enjoy your 4th of July this year.