Of Thee I Sing
By Kate Pavao,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Educational, inspirational profiles of 13 American heroes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Profiles the lives of 13 inspirational Americans, from Jane Adams to George Washington, offering up plenty of facts on each.
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.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
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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.
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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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- Author: Barack Obama
- Illustrator: Loren Long
- Genre: History
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: November 16, 2010
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 3
- Number of pages: 40
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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