Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 141: Of Thee I Sing

I can't think of a better book to feature this President's Day that Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing.  Before I go any further, however, I first have to ask that people put all of their political leanings aside and consider the book for what it is: a letter from a father to his daughters that highlights the accomplishments of thirteen Americans whose ideals and actions helped shape America.  The book starts off with a sentiment that I feel every day when I look at my children; one to which I hope every parent can relate:  "Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?  How the sound of your feet running from afar brings dancing rhythms to my day?  How you laugh and sunshine spills into the room?"  We are then introduced to the notable historical figures by a question that begins, "Have I told you that you are..." followed by an adjective or characteristic that describes their influence and accomplishments.  Before introducing Georgia O'Keefe, he poses the question "Have I told you that you are creative?"  Before Jackie Robinson, we are asked, "Have I told you that you are brave?" With each short biography, we are introduced to some of America's most influential men and women in a way that is informative yet accessible even to preschoolers.  "Have I told you that you are strong?  A woman named Helen Keller fought her way through long, silent darkness. Though she could not see or hear, she taught us to look at and listen to each other.  Never waiting for life to get easier, she gave others courage to face their challenges."  Among the other thirteen historical figures featured in this book are the two presidents for whom we observe this national holiday, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as Albert Einstein, Sitting Bull, Billie Holiday, Maya Lin (who designed the Vietnam Veterans and Civil Rights Memorials), Jane Addams, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Neil Armstrong.  The heroes featured in this book were chosen because their strength, courage, and determination are traits that Obama sees not just in his own children, but in all children.  Additional information about each of the thirteen people appears at the back of the book, as well, making it a perfect little introduction to biographies for young readers.

The jacket cover describes this as a beautiful book "about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.  It celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation's founders to the generations to come."  In today's divisive political climate, I think we could all take more time to recognize and appreciate what unites us.  And besides, don't we all, as parents, hope to see our children grow up feeling empowered, confident, inspired, and unafraid develop their own inner talents? And oh, the illustrations!  Loren Long's imagery is absolutely stunning, and I just love the way he captures the spirit and personalities of the children and the notable Americans they admire.  Seriously, the book is worth reading just to see his illustrations alone.  I'll definitely have to go out and find some of his other works.

This book has no political agenda, and one needn't agree with the President's policies to appreciate the beautiful message that it conveys.  Let me also just say now that this book was written before Obama became President, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to a scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers through the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that works with veterans.  If you are looking to read a book in honor of President's Day, this is one we highly recommend.


Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds said...

Hmmm... this really got me thinking. I have seen this book on the shelf everytime I go to the children's section of the book store but I have never even bothered to pick it up for the simple fact that I am not a "supporter". Thank you for this great review. I will definitely pick this up the next time I am looking at children's books. Which will probably be soon, I'm sure ;)

Lauren said...

Hi Becky! Thanks so much for your comment. I'm sure there are many people out there who have never picked it up for the same reason. I'm glad you'll give it a look next time. It's really a wonderful tribute to some truly amazing people. Enjoy!

:) Lauren

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