Friday, July 4, 2014

Books to Inspire a Love of the USA

How do we teach our children to love our country? By our actions, by our words, and, my favorite: with our books. These are some of my favorite books that teach a child to love America without lecturing or being simply about patriotism:

Picture books:
1. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Set in Boston. Something about this story makes you feel happy and proud of America.

2. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Gentle story, lovely illustrations.

3.When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. Nostalgic look at how life was, once upon a time.

4. The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge by Hildegard Swift. Classic. Our family has gone through multiple copies of this one.

5. Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey. A bit long for a regular picture book, but lovely. One of the sometimes overlooked McCloskey books.

Collections:
1.The Childcraft How and Why Library. Every family with children should have a copy of these books. I'm partial to the 1964 edition, but there are others. If you find them at a yard sale or curriculum sale buy them! These books are packed with interesting stories, explanations of how things work, poems, and more. The book I chose for this post is Pioneers and Patriots, but really the entire set teaches you both to appreciate other cultures and traditions while also learning to love our own.

2.The Children's Book of Virtues.

3. The Children's Book of Faith.

4. The Children's Book of Heroes. These three are adapted from William J. Bennett's book The Book of Virtues (another great resource, but not really designed for children's hands).

Chapter Books:
1. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. You'll meet all kinds of American heroes in this book. This book is exciting and my oldest children have loved it.

2. Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry. Something about Morgan horses inspires American pride (see also #7 below).

3. Reluctant Hero by Philip Brady. I'm not sure how my parents found this book but this is one my dad read aloud to us when I was a kid. Based on some quick Amazon research, I think there was a series of American historical fiction for kids that included this book. Set in 1802, this one is full of historical information, an inspiring young hero, and a brave, intelligent girl (what more could you want in a story?)

4. Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey. (The sequel to Homer Price. I would have included that one too but we've apparently lost our copy.) McCloskey is just such a Norman Rockwell-eque bit of Americana. I would have included all his books on this list. Centerburg Tales is funny and Homer's adventures have never failed to delight my kids.

5. American Girl books. I'm not as fond of the American Girl brand as I used to be but the original books are still worth a child's time. We're particularly fond of Felicity, Kirsten, and Molly. Felicity is a good look at the American Revolution through the eyes of a girl, Kirsten is a look at the immigrant and pioneer experience, and Molly is a girl on the homefront in WW2. (Addy, based during the Civil War and Samantha, the turn of the 20th century are also good.) These may not be perfect literature but they are good for introducing a younger or reluctant reader to chapter books. My girls are big fans.

6. Childhood of Famous Americans. I used to read these as a child. Now I buy them whenever I see them, whatever edition they might be. (We have Abigail Adams, Davy Crockett, Katherine Lee Bates, and Robert Fulton) Not too difficult, but packed with great stories.

7. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The ones that particularly came to mind for this post were Farmer Boy (where Father does his great "Farmers made this country" speech to Almanzo) and Little Town on the Prairie, which describes some 4th of July Celebrations in the fledgling town of De Smet. (Where Laura casually mentions that she has the Declaration of Independence memorized, "of course"). The entire series is a love letter to the American pioneer experience.
I gathered these from our own personal book collection but I know there are many more books that teach a love of America. Which of your favorites did I miss?
Happy 238th Birthday, America!
Linking up with:
Living and Learning at Home

1 comment:

Amy Maze said...

Great list of books! I wouldn't have thought of including those picture books, but you are so right! A book doesn't have to be outright about our country to make us love it more =) Thanks for all the suggestions!

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