America the Beautiful

Book review by
Marigny Dupuy, Common Sense Media
America the Beautiful Book Poster Image
Inspiring book can be shared by the entire family.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while most children are able to sing parts if not all of this famous American hymn, many have little idea what the words mean. This illustrated version gives not only all four verses, but also strong images of American life that will help make sense of the song.

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What's the story?

The well-known national hymn, "America the Beautiful," was written by Massachusetts poet and professor of English, Katharine Lee Bates, in 1893. A graduate and later department head of Wellesley College, she was inspired by the view from the top of Pike's Peak while on a trip to the west. The poem was published first in a church publication, but gained rapid popularity. With the tune written by Samuel Ward, it is one of the most familiar and beloved, patriotic American songs.

There is a page at the back of the book that gives information about each of the sixteen illustrations and another with Samuel Ward's music to the song.

Is it any good?

The images in this stunning book are beautiful, powerful, and inspiring. Illustrator Chris Gall is the great-great-grandnephew of poet Katharine Lee Bates and grew up with her original lyrics hanging on his wall. A talented illustrator, he used digitized hand engravings to create boldly colored images of American life, history, and symbols. Some of the images include the Statue of Liberty and Sacagawea, the WWII Tuskegee Airmen and the rescue workers raising the flag on Sept. 11, 2001, and a young couple working on their family farm.

While designed in children's picture book form, this book can be shared by the entire family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their feelings about America. Does this hymn strike a chord with you or help you see the country in a different way? If you're already familiar with the words, do the images enhance or change your appreciation of the song?

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