In anticipation of July 4th, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of books that we as nonfiction readers and writers might choose to celebrate America. So I emailed our I.N.K. bloggers and asked them to recommend a title or two. Here are their responses.
My book to celebrate America is The Roaring 20: The First Cross-Country Air Race for Women by Margaret Whitman Blair (National Geographic, 2006). This account of the 1929 National Women's Air Derby from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio, is a wonderful adventure story, starring Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, and a host of other aviation pioneers. It's an exciting read, gripping at times, with triumph and tragedy, telling a story that foreshadows the expanding role of women in our society.
For the fourth of July: I'm torn. I'd pick Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Anderson and the two Statue of Liberty books (Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport and Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen)I reviewed in tandem on my blog.
I chose Independent Dames because it spotlights the contributions of women and girls to the American Revolution.
I selected the Statue of Liberty books because they both tell the story of what may be this country's best-known icon, with slightly different foci. The Yolen book has the bonus of including an account of the immigrant experience coming to this country (and we are a country of immigrants, after all).
HENRY HIKES TO FITCHBURG by D.B. Johnson.
It reflects some of the many aspects of American spirit and it has that New England flavor that makes me think of the origins of our nation.
For the July 4th list how about Celebrate the 50 States! It's a picture book that explores the diverse features of all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. A trivia question for each one (e.g. What is a Hoosier?) is answered in the back.
For your list to celebrate America - I nominate I HEAR AMERICA SINGING: FOLK SONGS FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES, collected & arranged by me, ill. by Allen Garns. But what better way to celebrate than by singing your head off, that's what I say.
Celebrate American Artists and Poets Books by Jan Greenberg
Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art (YA)
Action Jackson (picture book of Jackson Pollock painting Lavender Mist) (ages 7-10)
Romare Bearden: Collage of Memories (ages 7-10)
Christo and Jeanne Claude: Through The Gates and Beyond (Middle Grade)
One thing that makes a society great is to be able to tell its stories without whitewashing them. So I'll recommend:
The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings that describes the journey of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic in searing detail without a single word.
This Land Was Made for You and Me by Elizabeth Partridge--a fabulous biography of Woody Guthrie that sensitively but unsparingly looks at his greatness and his demons.
See How They Run by Susan E. Goodman, a shameless plug for my new book, which uses humor to tell the real story behind our wonderful but very imperfect government and the people who have led it.
Democracy is best contemplated through the eyes of those who struggle for equality. A Dream of Freedom.The Civil Rights Movement From 1954 to 1968 by Diane McWhorter is my favorite children's book about this important period in American history.
America is very much about a sense of place. To me, nothing beats my hometown. For kids to get a real feel for my city This is New York, a classic written in 1960 by Miroslav Sasek, is still the best.
Come Back, Salmon: How a group of dedicated kids adopted Pigeon Creek and brought it back to life, by Molly Cone; photos by Sidnee Wheelwright, Sierra Club Books for Children, SF 1992. This is an older book but represents everything I love about our country: its land and wildlife, the energy of its people, and its openness to change.
Jeannette Rankin: Political Pionner (Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek: 2007) First Congresswoman, lifelong peace activist, praised and vilified -- indomitable.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction.It's rude and irreverent (and includes a photo of the nine Supreme Court justices nude) and my kids love it. Interestingly, there's quite a bit of real history and social studies in the book. And the fact that a book like this can be printed (and be a bestseller) says a lot about the country, in a good way.
Anna M. Lewis:
Here are two fun, craft books full of projects to inspire the red, white, and
Millbrook Press (January 2003)
Easy-to-follow, fun projects made from readily available household
materials. Bright, colorful drawings add to the fun.
Celebrate America: Learning About the USA Through Crafts and Activities
Jill Frankel Hauser (author)
Michael Kline (illustrator)
Williamson Publishing Company (April 2004)
Fantastic variety of crafts and projects to aid in educating American
History. A must for teachers and parents. I even learned a few things about