Of Thee I Sing Book Poster Image

Of Thee I Sing

Educational, inspirational profiles of 13 American heroes.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Profiles the lives of 13 inspirational Americans, from Jane Adams to George Washington, offering up plenty of facts on each.

Positive messages

This book educates readers about famous Americans of both genders and multiple ethnic/racial backgrounds, and it reminds kids that they can also make a difference in their world.

Positive role models

Readers learn about different ways to make a difference, from Cesar Chavez, who fought for farm laborers' rights, to Maya Lin, who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The book offers plenty of diversity -- both in terms of what these heroes look like and the work that they did.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this inspirational picture book written by President Barack Obama for his daughters focuses on the lives of 13 American heroes. The list is quite diverse -- both in terms of what these heroes look like and the work that they did. Short profiles range from Cesar Chavez, who fought for farm laborers' rights, to Maya Lin, who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The president's book will educate young readers about America's heroes and remind them that they can also make a difference in their world.

What's the story?

In this letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama calls out the girls' winning attributes ("Have I told you that you are creative?") and connects them to one of 13 American heroes. "Creative," for example, launches into a short bio about painter Georgia O'Keefe, who "helped us see big beauty in what is small: the hardness of stone and the softness of feather." The book includes further biographical information about each of the selections.

Is it any good?


Adults who read OF THEE I SING aloud to their kids shouldn't be surprised to find themselves choking up. Not only are many of the heroes profiled incredibly brave and amazing, but also, Obama does what all parents want to do: Remind their kids about how much they love them and inspire them to be the best selves they can be. The ending line may be a bit obvious ("And have I told you that I love you"), but you may be too teary by that point to see it clearly. Overall, this is an inspiring and educational book.

An award-winning illustrator provides beautiful paintings of the book's subjects. Especially fun (and poignant): On the left hand side, he represents them as children, standing along with Sasha, Malia, and a growing chorus of other future heroes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the heroes profiled here. Which Americans had you heard of before? Who would you like to learn more about?

  • Parents with older kids might want to point out that many of the heroes profiled here were controversial figures in their time. What made them controversial? Why do you think Obama decided to include them?

Book details

Author:Barack Obama
Illustrator:Loren Long
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publication date:November 16, 2010
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):3

This review of Of Thee I Sing was written by

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Parent of a 4 year old Written bymama2D January 1, 2011

Reviews, not politics, please!

I don't think it's fair or informative for kjrutherford of Indiana to review this book because s/he hasn't read it. S/he says s/he's basing the opinion on a couple of negative reviews at amazon.com. I just checked amazon where the book has 86 5-star reviews, 6 4-star reviews, and 3 1-star reviews (and no 3 or 2-star reviews). In fact, kjrutherford is taking advantage of this review space to plug Lynn Cheney's books for kids. I think the "review", along with my critique of it, should both be removed to make way for comments from people who have actually read the book and have something constructive to say about it that would assist readers.
Parent Written byPitIggyMom February 25, 2011
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byBorax December 24, 2010

Greek myths have better moral lessons

What a tedious book. It's self-consciously earnest and worthy, and for most kids totally forgettable. Parents are buying this so they can mold their kids politics, not because it might inspire them or--God forbid--give them some pleasurable reading. We got this from a friend who is obsessed with making her kids into extensions of her own ideas. And no, this has nothing to do with my political views. I just don't know what kind of parent would give their kid a book by any politician. Weird.