Celebrate being an American on the Fourth of July, Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and other special days, but don't stop there. Celebrate year-round with children's books for younger kids to kids in middle school. These recommended children's books include books about the Constitution, a children's cookbook, two poetry collections, a book of tall tales, stories about the White House and its occupants, an illustrated version of the poem "America the Beautiful," a book about the Fourth of July, and children's books about some of our important national symbols, like the Statue of Liberty.
Keep scrolling down to see all 11 of the books I recommend.
1. Lady Liberty: A Biography
Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty: A Biography is the story of the Statue of Liberty, from the idea to the planning, fundraising and building to the celebration when it was completed. The book, in picture book format, features large and dramatic watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations by Matt Tavares. I recommend Lady Liberty for children eight and older, younger if they have visited the Statue of Liberty. Because of the dramatically told story and the large amount of fascinating information in the book, I would also highly recommend Lady Liberty for teens and adults. (Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780763625306) Read my review of Lady Liberty: A Biography.
2. Our White House: Looking In Looking Out
Our White House: Looking In Looking Out is a large book, with a great many entries by a variety of authors and illustrators, and including both historical fiction and nonfiction. While the book is sometimes confusing, it is filled with fascinating stories and facts, presented in a variety of ways. The book should be of interest to 9-14 year olds and to families looking for a book related to American history to enjoy together. (Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780763620677) Read my review of Our White House: Looking In Looking Out.
3. America the Beautiful
Chris Gall's powerful artwork is the perfect complement to the words of the poem "America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates. The illustrations are reminiscent of WPA murals. Even children who are used to singing "America the Beautiful," the song based on Bates' poem, may not have really thought about the meaning of the words until seeing this book. (Little, Brown and Co., 2004. ISBN: 0316737437) Read my review of America the Beautiful.
4. Celebrate Independence Day
If you are looking for a nonfiction children's books about Independence Day for kids in elementary school, I recommend Celebrate Independence Day by Deborah Heiligman. The book is illustrated with high quality color photographs, accompanied by brief paragraphs that stress the history of Independence Day in the U.S. and Fourth of July traditions and festivities. (National Geographic Society, 2007. ISBN: 9781426300752) Read my review of Celebrate Independence Day.
5. Our Country's Presidents
6. Shh! We're Writing the Constitution
I recommend this book for 8-12 year olds, particularly on Constitution Day. Jean Fritz, who is known for her children’s books about American history, wrote the book. Award-winning artist Tomie dePaola provided the entertaining illustrations. While the subject is serious and the content rich with information, the author and illustrator tackle the serious subject matter with enough humor to keep the readers’ interest. (Putnam Publishing Group. 1987. ISBN: 0399214038)
7. The United States Cookbook
As the subtitle states, this children’s cookbook contains recipes for “Fabulous Food and Fascinating Facts from All 50 States.” For each state, there’s a map, illustrations of several state symbols, information about the state, fun food facts about the state, plus a recipe related to the state. Recipes include key lime pie from Florida and Swedish meatballs from Minnesota. The cookbook also contains sections on cooking skills and safety rules. (John Wiley & Sons, 2000. ISBN: 9780471358398)
8. Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art
The poems in Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art are a product of author Diane Siebert and her husband's ten-year journey all around the United States. The artwork by Stephen T. Johnson is as diverse as the places portrayed in the poetry. A double-page spread at the book's beginning shows a map of the United States, surrounded by small boxes, each with the name of a poem and a spot illustration, with a red line leading from the box to a red dot on the map showing the location in the state the poems is written about. I recommend the book for children 10-14 and as a read aloud for children 6 and older. Look for this book at your local public library. (Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780811850568)
9. American Tall Tales
The nine stories in Mary Pope Osborne’s 115-page collection of American tall tales feature, among others, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, John Henry, and Sally Ann Thunder. A U.S. map shows the location of each tale. Each story includes historical notes and contains a number of colorful wood engravings by Michael McCurdy. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. ISBN: 0679800891)
10. Uncle Sam and Old Glory
Delno C. West and Jean M. West provide a brief look at 15 different American symbols, each illustrated with a handsome woodcut by Christopher Manson. The symbols include the American flag, Smoky the Bear, the Liberty Bell, and Uncle Sam. While I would not have selected all of the symbols chosen, I’d recommend the book. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. ISBN: 0689820437)
11. My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States
This book of poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins is divided into sections representing different regions of the U.S., each with a map and information about the states. The illustrations, paintings by Stephen Alcorn, and the poetry, such as Nikki Giovanni’s “Knoxville, Tennessee,” create a sense of place for the reader. (Simon & Schuster, 2000. ISBN: 0689812477)